September 10, 2005

Chile's "9/11"

Sept. 11 a Dark Day in Chile, Too:

Sept. 11 is dark day in Chile too: the anniversary of Gen. Augusto Pinochet's bloody military coup. And as in the past, it finds Chileans not just sad, but angry.

Violent protests have broken out in several cities, leaving four people injured and at least 20 detained. The government warned of "zero tolerance" for anyone who tries to incite unrest Sunday.

"This is not the Chile we want to build," said President Ricardo Lagos, urging his South American nation to remain calm this weekend.

Pinochet seized power Sept. 11, 1973, toppling democratically elected Marxist President Salvador Allende, who committed suicide during the military bombardment of the government palace.

The general went on to govern Chile for 17 years. During that time, 3,197 people were killed for political reasons, according to an official report prepared by the civilian government that succeeded Pinochet in 1990. More than 1,000 others — the "disappeared" — remain unaccounted for and were presumably murdered after being picked up by Pinochet's security forces.

But while hundreds of former military officers are being tried on human rights charges, only a few have been convicted, including four generals. Pinochet himself has been indicted twice and still faces hundreds of lawsuits, but has been spared trial because of his poor health.

[...]"One works hard to get a human rights violator indicted and then he is pardoned," complained Lorena Pizarro, who heads a group of relatives of dissidents who disappeared at the hands of Pinochet's security forces.

"Those who are guilty must be punished," she told The Associated Press. "We will continue to fight to gain even more convictions."

Posted by Kyer at September 10, 2005 10:13 PM | TrackBack