SANTIAGO – People across Chile honored President Salvador Allende on Sunday, marking the 43rd anniversary of the coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who overthrew him.
The main ceremony was held at the La Moneda presidential palace, which was bombed by warplanes during the September 1973 coup.
“Forty-three years have passed since the flame of democracy was momentarily extinguished in this very palace, imposing a dictatorship, state terrorism and arbitrariness in the heart of our fatherland,” President Michelle Bachelet said.
Wreaths were placed at the foot of Allende’s statue in the Plaza de la Constitucion and human rights groups organized the traditional march to the Cementerio General, where the late president is buried.
Millions of people have been born in Chile since the coup and the 1990 restoration of democracy, but it is essential that all generations know about what happened during the dark years of the Pinochet dictatorship, Bachelet said.
“We have an obligation to our children and those who have passed on to give the memory (of the coup) the place it deserves. To give justice the depth and space it deserves, to honor our dead, their names and struggle,” Bachelet, a former political prisoner, said.
Sen. Isabel Allende, daughter of the late president, said Chile still had to “do much more” to achieve justice, calling for the closing of Punta Peuco, the special prison where about 100 former armed forces members accused of human rights violations are being held.
“The violators of human rights should not enjoy special privileges because they are the people who committed the most serious violations,” the senator said.
Salvador Allende took his own life as troops stormed the presidential palace on Sept. 11, 1973, and the coup was followed by 17 years of harsh military rule under Pinochet.