Pinochet mourners’ ire roused by lack of honors
SANTIAGO, Chile – Thousands of mourners honored Gen. Augusto Pinochet on Monday, many weeping as they kissed his glass-topped casket in a military ceremony that exposed deep divisions over the legacy of his 17-year dictatorship.
The ceremony followed a night of clashes that left 43 police officers injured and 99 demonstrators under arrest. The scattered fights between Pinochet’s supporters and opponents capped a jubilant evening for crowds of Chileans who took to the streets to celebrate his death Sunday at age 91.
Waiting for hours to view his coffin inside the Santiago Military Academy, people sang the national anthem and criticized President Michelle Bachelet for denying Pinochet a national mourning period and full state funeral befitting a former president.
Bachelet relegated the former army commander to his military past by ordering flags flown at half-staff only at military barracks, and sending her defense minister to the ceremony in her stead.
Like tens of thousands of other Chileans, Bachelet was herself a victim of the Pinochet security state. Her father died after being tortured by Pinochet’s forces. She and her mother were jailed, mistreated and forced into exile.