HAVANA TIMES – With the motto “Democracy Always”, the president of Chile, Gabriel Boric, together with his counterparts from Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay, led an event on Monday the 11th at the La Moneda palace, bombed during the coup that overthrew the government of socialist Salvador Allende exactly 50 years ago.
Democracy “is a continuous construction and the only way to advance to a more just and humane society, with diversity and among those who think differently, with whom we can build a better society,” Boric said in his speech.
Among those attending the event 50 years after the coup led by General Augusto Pinochet, were presidents Luis Arce of Bolivia, Gustavo Petro of Colombia, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa of Portugal and Luis Lacalle Pou of Uruguay.
Also present were the former presidents of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, of Spain, Felipe Gonzalez, and of Uruguay, Jose Mujica.
The commemoration was marked by a strong polarization between the right, who blame Allende for creating conditions for the coup and even defend the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990), and their left-wing opponents, who denounce the assault on power and serious human rights violations under that regime.
“I remember that my father acted determined that day, but with serenity. We knew that he would not leave the Palacio de La Moneda. I’ll never forget his last hug, his warmth, his infinite love. Salvador Allende embodied hope” said María Isabel Allende Bussi.
The dictatorship left more than 40,000 victims – more than 3,000 dead or missing, and numerous wounded, prisoners and tortured -, drove thousands of Chileans into exile, disrupted the economy for many years and broke coexistence in society.
Boric said that “the coup cannot be separated from what came after,” highlighting the violation of human rights, and stating that “it does not matter the color of the regime that violates human rights, whether red, blue or black: they must be respected always, and its violation condemned without any nuance”.
Four days before this anniversary, Boric and the living former presidents Eduardo Frei, Ricardo Lagos, Michelle Bachelet and Sebastián Piñera, from different ideological currents, signed a document titled “For democracy, always”, reiterating their commitment to civility and the rule of law.
When this text was presented to the different political formations with parliamentary representation, the left and center-left parties accepted it, but the traditional right-wing formations and the newer Republican Party, considered extreme right, refused to sign it.
The Republican Party is the party with the greatest representation in the body that is preparing a new constitution for Chile, and which should be submitted to a referendum this coming December, as a way to dismantle the political intransigence that is advancing among Chileans, 70% of whom were born after of the 1973 coup.
Another example of the tension under which Chile reached this anniversary was recorded on September 10, when a popular demonstration in tribute to Allende passed by La Moneda and Boric accompanied it briefly, but it was followed by scuffles between protesters and police.
Then, excited among the protesters who went to the General Cemetery of the capital to pay tribute to Allende, people set fire to the tomb of former senator Jaime Guzmán, an ally of Pinochet, and caused destruction to the mausoleum of the militarized Carabineros Police, the main body charged with public order.
Also on the night of the 10th, thousands of women dressed in black in mourning for the victims, and with lights as torches, gathered in front of the presidential palace to demand that “never again” a dictatorship take over Chile.
In several provincial cities, in universities and other entities, and in places that were detention sites, as well as in the Santiago Museum of Memory, events were also held this September 11, to repudiate the coup d’état of 50 years ago and reiterate commitments to democracy.
Socialist senator María Isabel Allende Bussi, daughter of the president who governed with the Popular Unity (1970-1973), also spoke at the event at the doors of La Moneda. She narrated her experience of the fateful September 11 with her father.
“I remember that my father acted determined that day, but with serenity. We knew that he would not leave the La Moneda Palace. I’ll never forget his last hug, his warmth, his infinite love. Salvador Allende embodied hope,” said the senator, as her voice broke.