Calm has returned to the streets of Chile a day after violent clashes sparked by the death of Augusto Pinochet. The demise of the former dictator has rekindled divisions in the country. On the one side there are those who are mourning the demise of a hero, on the other, those rejoicing at the passing away of a brutal dictator.
“For those people who were here and who suffered so much back in ’73 it’s a kind of celebration. For them it’s a happy day,” said one man in Santiago.
But another added: “Today it is a major time for reflection for all Chileans, because a big man has left us, a man who brought freedom to our country, managed the transition, handing it over to the same Socialists that are here today starting with the President down.”
With emotions running high, skirmishes broke out with police as those celebrating Pinochet’s death tried to march to the Presidential palace.
The centre-left President Michelle Bachelet, who survived the dictator’s torture chambers, has called for calm and unity: “In the last hours we have seen gestures of division which we do not like, but I know that we have as a country, as a society, ethical strength to rediscover each other, that is the greatness of our country.”
But for many in Chile the scars left by Pinochet’s bloody 17-year regime will take a long time to heal.
Some fear the quiet that has returned to the capital could be shortlived.