Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet remains in military hospital in Santiago, reportedly improving after heart surgery. But in the streets of the capital both pro and anti-Pinochet protests are being marshalled by the police in an attempt to avoid clashes. “He’s still the same assassin, still the same thief, still the same person who tortured people in this country,” said one angry young man.
Despite security forces’ efforts, the rival groups are clashing as Pinochet’s supporters gather outside the hospital in a vigil for their former leader, and arrests are being made. Many are furious that this latest health crisis means it is unlikely Pinochet will ever face all the trials against him stacking up in the courts. Doctors are optimistic for his recovery:
“The General is awake, conscious, and communicating. he has spoken, for example, to the Archbishop of Santiago who came to visit him”, says one of the medical team. Yesterday many Chileans were angered when an appeals court lifted Pinochet’s house arrest after a week for a bail of only 1800 euros.
“Pinochet’s not the victim of misfortune or any plaintiff’s prosecution. Instead he is the criminal, who committed the most horrible crimes that our history can recount” says one lawyer attempting to prosecute him. Pinochet is 91 and has been ailing for years, although his critics claim this is play-acting. Now, with the end seeming near, a new row is boiling about what sort of funeral to give him when he goes.