SANTIAGO – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet became emotional on Friday as she recalled how her father, an air force general, was tortured to death under the 1973-1990 Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.
The head of state spoke at a ceremony to acknowledge the responsibility of the Chilean state for the unjust treason convictions of 83 air force personnel who refused to support the Pinochet-led coup of Sept. 11, 1973.
On Monday, Chile’s Supreme Court overturned the 83 convictions in compliance with a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
“We are here today to recognize this responsibility and make amends to the victims with measures allowing the restoration of their violated dignity,” the president told an audience that included comrades of her father, Gen. Alberto Bachelet, who died March 12, 1974, of a torture-induced heart attack.
“You were unjustly tried and convicted. They took from you what you loved the most, they called you traitors. Today, thanks to your effort, courage and tenacity – excuse me for becoming emotional. Thanks to your effort and courage, things are returning to their proper place,” she said.
“Allow this president of the republic, daughter of an air force general who was with you in the same cells, from her role in government, but also from the depth of her personal history, to recognize what you have accomplished with one final word: thanks, many thanks,” a tearful Bachelet concluded.
One of the affected officers, Lt. Col. Ernesto Galaz, said that the voiding of the decades-old convictions constitutes “spiritual and emotional reparations.”