The Chilean government announced Sunday that the deceased dictator General Augusto Pinochet will be receiving honors of a former Commander in chief of the Army, and not of head of state or national mourning.
General Pinochet ruled with an iron fist from 1973 until the first elected government in 1990, retaining the post of head of the Army. Government House spokesperson Ricardo Lagos Weber made the announcement late Sunday evening following an urgent cabinet meeting in President Michelle Bachelet's home. President Bachelet will not be present at the funeral of the former dictator and will be represented by Defense minister Vivianne Blanlot, said Lagos Weber. Pinochet is to be mourned at the Chilean Army's Military Academy until Tuesday midday when a religious service will he held. His last will was that his remains be cremated. Lagos Weber said the government had authorized flags at half mast in Army barracks and other military institutions. He also said the government respects the pain of the Pinochet family and "will take all necessary measures to ensure the rule of the law in such situations, and will watch over so a climate of peace and equanimity prevails". Thousands of anti-Pinochet protesters took to the streets in the centre of the capital, Santiago, with tear gas and water cannon used to disperse crowds. Cheering opponents of Gen Pinochet attempted to reach the presidential palace, but found police barring their way. Sporadic clashes broke out, with Chilean TV showing images of fires burning along one of Santiago's main avenues. Deputy Interior Minister Felipe Harboe called on both sides to a "quiet and peaceful night" with no acts of violence. "We don't want people to look ahead, and not let the past overcome them", said Harboe adding that he appealed to parents' responsibility and cooperation "so that young people, your children, are not involved in violent acts".