Chile: thousands commemorate 9-11 coup

On Sept. 11 Chileans marked the 38th anniversary of the coup d’état that overthrew socialist president Salvador Allende in 1973 and installed the 17-year dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Thousands of people gathered in the center of Santiago for a march to a memorial in the General Cemetery for the 3,225 people known to have have been killed by the Pinochet regime. The mobilization was organized by the Association of Relatives of Disappeared Detainees and the National Assembly for Human Rights.

Many marchers carried Chilean flags; some had signs calling for restoration of public education, the demand of a student movement that has closed down universities and secondary schools in a three-month strike. Camila Vallejo, president of the Federation of University of Chile Students (FECH), participated, along with other student leaders. As often happens at Chilean demonstrations, the event was peaceful until the end, when a small group of hooded youths confronted the police and agents dispersed them with tear gas and water cannons. Organizers estimated that 10,000 people took part in the march. (AFP, Sept. 11; Radio Universidad de Chile, Sept. 11)

Plans for a dialogue between student strike leaders and rightwing president Sebastián Piñera remained stalled as of Sept. 10. The students insisted that before talks start, the government should withdraw bills on education reform it sent to the National Congress. “At this point there’s no real interest in finding solutions,” according to Camilo Ballesteros, president of the Federation of Santiago de Chile University Students (FEUSACH). The government is just trying to “diminish the mobilizations, diminish their profile by sending bills to the legislature,” he said. (TeleSUR, Sept. 10)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Sept. 11.

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