In Chile, dozens of protesters have been arrested after clashes with police on the 40th anniversary of General Pinochet’s 1973 military coup. Police used water cannon and fired tear gas as protesters threw stones and erected barricades. In the capital Santiago a bus was set on fire; 8,000 extra police were called in to maintain order.
During the 17 years of the Pinochet regime, around 40,000 people were arrested and tortured, and more than 3,000 were killed, their bodies often dumped at sea or buried in unmarked graves. More than 1,000 civil rights cases dating from that time are still going through the courts in Chile.
Many people gathered in the football stadium in Santiago to remember the victims, and to protest against the violence unleashed on opponents of the regime.
A relative of one of them said: “Her story is still alive and continues in this stadium because we have not yet reached the truth. In the meantime, this open wound does not heal. And that is why we’re here, because I think it is important that we make that clear, so we do this every year.”
The country remains divided over Pinochet’s legacy; reconciliation between his supporters and his detractors remains problematic. Although most people deplore his human rights record some people believe that Pinochet saved the country from poverty, civil war and Cuban-style communism. There is also a lack of consensus over the question of compensation for victims’ families.