Chile can’t forget Pinochet’s coup: a Carabinero killed, hundreds of protestors injured and arrested
A Carabinero was shot dead, scores of people were injured and 255 others arrested in violent protests marking the 39th anniversary of the military coup that toppled Chilean elected Socialist president Salvador Allende in 1973, reported the Ministry of Interior on Wednesday.
Three police officers and a 16-year old remain in serious condition in hospital after having received gunshot wounds, said the Carabineros chief General Luis Valdes. He added that militants burnt a bus and four cars, and damaged several hundred other public transport vehicles during a full day and night of rioting.
Valdes identified the dead officer as Corporal Christian Martinez Badilla, 27, who was shot when he tried to prevent the looting of a supermarket in the Santiago suburb of Quilicura. The general said the use of guns is becoming more common in street disturbances and underlined that 83 of the people arrested are minors.
“Minors armed with guns participated in the protests” he said. “I want to appeal to parents to take responsibility for the hate they have transmitted (to their children) in the days prior to these sensitive anniversaries”.
On 11 September 1973 a military coup headed by General Augusto Pinochet ousted President Allende, who pledged to resist but following the bombing of the Government Palace in downtown Santiago committed suicide. A fact that was proven by Chilean Justice, with the help of local and foreign forensic evidence, since many of his followers believe he was killed when troops stormed the palace.
During the 17-year bloody military regime thousands of dissidents and followers of the government of President Allende were killed, disappeared and many thousands more tortured or exiled. It was also a period when all Socialist economic experiments were banished and a crude, draconian (right contacts) capitalism was implemented, helping to concentrate wealth and opening the economy to the world.
President Sebastian Piñera, a billionaire whose business interests thrived during the 1973-1990 Pinochet dictatorship, condemned the policeman’s death and vowed to do everything possible to apprehend those responsible.
“All these actions only produce pain, death and destruction,” he said early Wednesday after returning to Santiago from the Asia-Pacific Summit held in Russia. “How many more Carabineros must die before we understand that violence and rioting leads nowhere but chaos and anarchy. We must as a community, learn to respect the rule of the law and the law enforcement officers”.
Deputy Interior minister, Rodrigo Ubilla, said Tuesday’s violence “shows there is a group of Chileans who believe the commemorations of September 11 are synonymous to violence, looting and the killing of a Carabinero who lost his life protecting the public”.
Chile’s first conservative administration since the restoration of democracy in 1990 did not mark the anniversary of Pinochet 11 Sept. 11, 1973, but left wing and radical groups and civic organizations paid tribute to the victims of the military regime during a ceremony at the Salvador Allende monument, opposite the presidential palace.
Relatives of some of the roughly 3.500 people believed to have been killed or disappeared by the Pinochet regime held candlelight vigils Tuesday night in Santiago.
All but nine of the 76 officers and agents from the dictatorship convicted of human rights violations are behind bars, though they are being held in “special” prisons that are considerably more comfortable than ordinary penitentiaries.