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01 Jan 2002 00:00
Chile somberly marked the memory of those killed 29 years ago in and after General Augusto Pinochet’s military coup that toppled socialist president Salvador Allende and drove him to suicide.
A religious ceremony was held in memory of the some
3 000 people who died or disappeared under Pinochet’s dictatorship at the chapel attached to the presidential palace, attended by President Ricardo Lagos for the first time since his inauguration two years ago.
Outside the palace the Association of Families of Disappeared People, the communist party and survivor’s of Allende’s presidential guard laid flowers at a statue of Allende, who took his life as on September 11, 1973 as planes bombed the palace.
But, in comparison to years past, this year did not draw large demonstrations. The Interior Ministry reported only minor incidents including two small explosions on the outskirts of the capital.
The Chilean media was preoccupied with the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the United States.
Lagos, who had been out of the country on previous anniversaries, noted the efforts made since Pinochet’s 1990 departure to reconcile Chileans and bring human rights violators of the 17-year dictatorship to justice.
He called on civilians who participated in the coup to come forward and seek exoneration.
“Not everyone has admitted their responsibility, mistakes were made, atrocities were committed.
There were civilians who actively participated and I think that they need to own up and ask Chile for forgiveness,” Lagos said.
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