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Chilean presidential front-runner heads ceremony at former Pinochet detention centre

Thursday, September 12th 2013 - 01:02 UTC
Full article 17 comments
Bachelet and her mother (L) were imprisoned and tortured at Villa Grimaldi in 1973 Bachelet and her mother (L) were imprisoned and tortured at Villa Grimaldi in 1973

Former Chilean president and current front-runner in the November election Michelle Bachelet headed a ceremony at former detention centre Villa Grimaldi as part of the country’s commemoration of the coup led by General Augusto Pinochet against Socialist president Salvador Allende on 11 September 40 years ago.

Bachelet, who was imprisoned and tortured at Villa Grimaldi, said she was back at the former detention centre “as a survivor.” Around 4,500 people are estimated to have passed through Villa Grimaldi, nowadays a park, between 1974 and 1978.

“I am back here as a survivor. Park for Peace Villa Grimaldi is here to say that we hope to build a country that is able to move forward in a fair, equal and peaceful way and that is only possible if we advance in truth, justice, reparations and commitment”, Bachelet declared.

Her mother, Angela Jeria, was also detained at Villa Grimaldi. Her father, a military man who remained loyal to the constitution, was tortured by the dictatorship and died as a consequence.

Meanwhile a protest in central Santiago added to the commemorative events with 1,000 people lying down in a “corpse line” to symbolize those that disappeared during the dictatorship.

Special television shows, plays and recitals also remembered the 11 September 1973 coup, a dark day in the country’s history.

The Assembly of Secondary Students (ACES) has called on students to occupy schools today in the memory of those killed during the dictatorship. According to a report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1991, at least 307 teenagers were murdered by the state. Separate investigations have proved that schools were spied on by the Education Ministry, which also monitored some of the students closely.

More than 8,000 anti-riot officers are patrolling the streets of the country’s capital to try to prevent the violent clashes that usually take place on the coup’s anniversary every year.

“We are especially concerned with security,” Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick told network 24 Horas. The anti-riot police “have set up a special operation, especially in symbolic places,” he added.

Meanwhile, Chilean judge Mario Carroza began issuing subpoenas in a case that will try to determine how the coup was conceived. Carroza has also investigated the circumstances that led to Allende’s death on the day of the coup and is currently probing the death of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.

He has spent the last eight months trying to determine who participated in the coup’s planning and how long it took to organize. Carroza asked the Police’s Human Rights Department to investigate “the period prior to the military coup and to verify if illegal actions took place”

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

Top Comments

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  • Mr Ed

    Bachelet was able to flee to the safety of East Germany, which was rather strict about border controls, but let in and out those it favoured and trusted. Has Bachelet ever commented on or commemorated the victims of Communism? It would be nice to know, so that no misleading impression might be given of her views.

    As for Bachelet's father being loyal to the Constitution, perhaps the writer meant to say 'Allende'. The Chilean Congress had ruled Allende's régime unconstitutional in August 1973.

    Sep 12th, 2013 - 02:31 am 0
  • Gonzo22

    Pinochetists are not happy at all.

    Sep 12th, 2013 - 08:13 am 0
  • Condorito

    @1 Mr Ed
    “The Chilean Congress had ruled Allende's regime unconstitutional in August 1973”
    You are quite right.

    Re Bachelet: She is too smart politically to alienate the left by openly criticizing the socialist ideology or legacy.

    However, actions speak louder than words and given that her and her “socialist” predecessors pushed forward and deepened Pinochet's liberalizing economic reforms with great zeal, there can be no doubt that Bachelet views socialism as a sheepdog for herding all the leftie sheep to the ballot box.

    PS: I have this idea that when she is back she might start testing the water on the part-privatization of CODELCO.

    Sep 12th, 2013 - 09:00 am 0
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