40 years after Pinochet coup, thousands march for rights in Chile

40 years after Pinochet coup, thousands march for rights in Chile

SANTIAGO - Agence France-Presse
40 years after Pinochet coup, thousands march for rights in Chile

Activists of the Chilean Human Rights organization "Detained and Disappeared People" take part in a demonstration in Santiago on Sept. 8 in remembrance of late President (1970-1973) Salvador Allende, who died on September 11, 1973 during the military coup d'etat led by general Augusto Pinochet. AFP photo

Thousands of Chileans marched for human rights Sept. 7 on the 40th anniversary of the coup that brought dictator Augusto Pinochet to power.

Some of the 60,000 carried pictures of their kin who were abducted or killed by the state and held signs with slogans such as "40 years after the coup, nobody and no one has been forgotten." After a two-hour march, one group of hooded demonstrators set up barricades and squared off with police, some of whom were hit with stones and sticks. Police subdued the protestors with tear gas and water cannons.

The march ended at a cemetery with a memorial to the victims of Pinochet's Cold War regime.

"Forty years on, we are still demanding truth and justice. We won't rest until we find out what happened to our loved ones who were arrested and went missing" never to return, said Lorena Pizarro, leader of a relatives' rights group.

September 11 is the anniversary of the day in 1973 when air force planes bombed the presidential palace. Salvador Allende, an elected socialist president, committed suicide rather than be captured.

The governments that have ruled in the transition since Pinochet left power in 1990 have managed to reduce the South American country's poverty rate from 40 percent to 14 percent. But social disparities are stark. Besides demands for social change, pressure is mounting in Chile to unmask the whole truth about a dictatorship that left more than 3,200 dead and some 38,000 people tortured.

Pinochet died in 2006 without ever having gone on trial.