Clashes in Chile Between Protestors and Police on Anniversary of 1973 Military Coup
Protestors and police clashed in Chile on Wednesday as the country marked the anniversary of the 1973 military coup that put General Augusto Pinochet in power.
In Santiago, where 8,000 police were deployed to quell violence, a bus was set on fire. Police said that they arrested dozens of protestors for building barricades and throwing stones and gas bombs. They also reported protestors creating burning barricades in two neighborhoods within the capital.
According to Interior Minister Andres Chadwick the country's capital remains safe and the clashes occurred because "major troublemakers were trying to take advantage of the occasion."
The 1973 military coup ousted former President Salvador Allende, and set off a period of 17 years of military rule in Chile. In the past, demonstrations to mark the coup have turned violent.
The official state ceremony recognizing the coup happened on Monday, with President Sebastian Pinera trying to maintain a balanced narrative on the occasion. Pinera both criticized the 1973 coup and subsequent military rule, but noted that the ousting of Allende came about due to the "repeated violations of the rule of law" under his leadership.
During Pinochet's reign, imprisonment and torture became commonplace for many of Chile's citizens. As the state held an official ceremony, some, including former president Michelle Bachalet, visited Villa Grimaldi, a detention center in Santiago where punishments like electric shock were doled out.
The site has been turned into a memorial for the victims of the military regime. Bachalet, who plans to run in the next presidential election called the crimes committed under Pinochet's rule "a dirty wound that cannot heal."
While Chile was under military control, an estimated 40,000 people were victims of human rights abuses. 3,000 people were either killed or disappeared. Even 13 years after Pinochet left power, there are more than 1,000 human rights cases stemming from the actions of his regime still in Chilean courts.