The Sept. 11 anniversary of Chile’s 1973 coup exploded into a night of street battles in Santiago that ended with one officer of the Carabineros dead, 26 people wounded, and 255 arrested, including 83 minors. Five public buses were set on fire to make street barricades, and more than 400 others sustained broken windows and other damage, prompting the transportation agency to shut service throughout the city. There was widespread looting through the night, and at least 58,000 homes were left without power after hooded protesters threw metal chains onto power lines. The Carabineros officer was apparently killed when he tried to stop the looting of a supermarket in the northern district of Quilicura.
Popular outrage was sparked after the Santiago Appeals Court ruled earlier that day that President Salvador Allende killed himself on Sept. 11, 1973 as troops attacked the presidential palace to oust him. Official reports, accepted by Allende’s family, stated that the death was a suicide, but his body was exhumed in 2011 to settle lingering doubts, and an examination opened by the court. Many Allende supporters, who continued to assert that he was killed by soldiers, reacted angrily to the finding.
The Allendista Socialist Party (PSA) issued a statement formally rejecting the court’s finding and pledging to press for a new investigation and prosecution of Allende’s killers. Party leader Esteban Silva said, “We cannot accept, much less on this date, that this announcement means a summary closure of the investigation… There is a great number of people who will declare that the process still cannot be closed.” Noting that the Moneda Palace was shelled by the military, he drew an analogy to the 9-11 attacks in New York, saying, “those who threw themselves from the Twin Towers into the void to avoid an even more horrible death were victims of homicide and not suicide.” (BBC News, AP, TeleSUR, Venezuela, RPP, Peru, La Tercera, Chile, Sept. 12)
Litigation and controversies over the “Dirty War” unleashed by the 1973 CIA-backed coup continue in Chile.