Thousands of chileans commemorate the coup bearing faces of the murdered and disappeared

Javier Martin

Santiago de Chile, Sept 10 (EFE).- Thousands of people marched through the streets of Santiago de Chile on Sunday, holding up to the gray sky photos of compatriots and relatives who were killed or disappeared, in the annual demonstration to commemorate the military coup by General Augusto Pinochet against the democratic government of socialist Salvador Allende, whose 50th anniversary falls on September 11 this year.

At the head of the march, between songs by Victor Jara and other leftist anthems, was the President of the Republic himself, Gabriel Boric, along with members of his government, such as spokeswoman Camila Vallejo, leaders of the Communist Party of Chile, leaders of the associations of victims and disappeared detainees, and prominent figures such as the Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, who succeeded in arresting the dictator.

The most emotional moment took place at Morandé 80, the entrance to the Palacio de la Moneda, the presidential palace, through which the corpse of President Allende emerged after the bloody battle with the coup forces, and in front of which the annual march had never passed.

It was at that moment that an emotional Boric joined the stream of joyful and emotional demonstrators who were moving toward the Recoleta Cemetery, amid shouts of “Salvador Allende, present” and “Prisoners and disappeared, present”.

RIOTS DID NOT SPOIL THE CELEBRATION As every year, the march ended with isolated groups of radical youths dressed in black confronting the Carabineros riot police both inside and outside the cemetery. Trucks with pressurized water and armored vehicles with tear gas were confronted by rocks, sticks and Molotov cocktails. No injuries were reported.

Authorities told Efe that a dozen people were arrested, among them vandals who took advantage of the celebration to break into butcher shops and other businesses.

The most unusual attack took place in the Palacio de La Moneda itself, where a group of hooded men, whose political and ideological affiliation is unknown at this time, broke the glass fence surrounding the front of the government building and tried to climb over the walls and even enter the cultural center.

The action forced the intervention of the Carabineros, who had already halted the march and split it in two shortly after it began.

EMOTION AND REMEMBRANCE “Today, the relatives of the disappeared detainees , of those tortured and politically executed by the dictatorship, participated in a march that, after a long time, was allowed to pass through Morandé 80,” said Boric through social networks.

“I was proud to participate with them because I am convinced that we are here today thanks to their tireless struggle for truth and justice. We still owe them a lot as a country and this is the underlying purpose of the National Search Plan,” he said, referring to the plan presented last August 30 and considered one of the major milestones of his difficult administration.

The president expressed his desire to make this 50th anniversary an act of reconciliation and unity of the Chilean people, even promoting a joint declaration of all political forces. But both the right and the ultra-right chose to distance themselves from it and also said they will not participate in the event to be held on Monday at La Moneda, which will be attended by world leaders such as Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

The commemoration has once again divided a country in which denial has grown in recent months, as has the number of people, both public and private, who not only justify the military coup, but also believe that it saved Chile from communism and that the brutal repression of the dictatorship was a necessary evil.

EMOTIONAL MEMORIES “They killed my father, they made him disappear. I don’t want that to happen again, I don’t want my son to go through the hell we went through,” Marcela, daughter of a former leader of the Revolutionary Left Movement, one of the most repressed parties, told EFE.

“It’s a question of humanity. Those who tortured and killed were not human, they were beasts. But those who now, with so much evidence and so much pain, continue to deny or justify what happened, are the same. Or those who say it was a necessary evil. They are inhuman,” she added. EFE jm/ics

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