SANTIAGO – Chile commemorated on Tuesday the 45th anniversary of the 1973 coup d’etat, a date that still divides many in this country and which was recalled with tributes to toppled former President Salvador Allende.
The political parties and the government opted to undertake separate events to recall the military uprising headed by Gen. Augusto Pinochet and which resulted in Allende’s suicide and a dictatorship lasting 17 years.
The center-left opposition and human rights organizations took to the streets to pay tribute to Allende, who on the day of the coup barricaded himself in La Moneda Palace as bombs fell on the building.
The government of conservative President Sebastian Piñera, in contrast, opted for a sober ceremony inside La Moneda.
One of the day’s main events was that organized by the Salvador Allende Foundation and having the participation of relatives of the deposed president and representatives from across the political spectrum, from Communists to Christian Democrats.
Sen. Isabel Allende, the daughter of the late president, said that it was a date of “memories, feelings and emotion” that made her feel proud.
“I think that we’ve held a republican, centralist, broad event where together we’ve re-encountered the values of truth, justice and strengthening of democracy,” she said.
Carmen Frei, deputy leader of the Christian Democrats and daughter of Allende’s predecessor as president, Eduardo Frei Montalva, said that the consequences of the 1973 coup remain extant within the current political and social milieu.
“We still don’t know where hundreds of disappeared detainees are and all the crimes committed still have not been cleared up. The pacts of silence, unfortunately, remain in place and in thousands of homes truth and justice are still being awaited,” said Frei, whose father’s 1982 death has been attributed to poisoning by Pinochet’s agents.
Before the tribute, representatives of the leftist political parties congregated outside Morande 80, a side door to La Moneda that Allende had used to enter and leave the building, and through which his body was removed on the day of the coup.
The chairmen of the Socialist Party, Alvaro Elizalde, and of the Party for Democracy, Heraldo Muñoz, placed red carnations on the symbolic door and later traveled to the monument and statue honoring Allende on Constitution Square.
A few feet away, inside La Moneda, Piñera headed a low-key official ceremony very different from the tributes organized over the past four years by his predecessor, Michelle Bachelet, whose father, an air force general opposed to the coup, was tortured to death in one of Pinochet’s prisons.