Chilean authorities are hoping for a return to calm now that the last public events surrounding the death of Augusto Pinochet are over. The former dictator’s funeral at the Military Academy where he began his career, was attended by several thousand supporters. Denied a state ceremony, he was given full military honours. The government representative, defence minister, Vivienne Banlot, was booed by the crowds in yet another example of Pinochet’s power to divide in death as in life. For that reason too, there will be no grave, he chose cremation.
If the funeral was for those who still see Pinochet as a hero who saved the country from Marxism, then a gathering in the capital, Santiago, was for those for whom he will always be a ruthless murderer. His detractors tossed a mock-coffin into the Mapocho River, where the bodies of many dissidents were thrown during his 1973-1990 regime. Once again, the demonstrations ended in violent clashes with police. Such scenes have become familiar since Pinochet had a heart attack on December 3. He died on Sunday aged 91. It is hoped now the funeral is over, the deep rift Pinochet’s rule caused in Chile’s society can at last begin to heal.