Another September 11 in Chile, but not just any other day
It is 50 years since the coup d’état and there is an important generational change on the streets, many thousands of young people who feel the need to express their discomfort with society, to express their pain at the breakdown of democracy and all that followed. So many women, beautiful, young, quick to walk, and ready to fight, with their handkerchiefs in their fists. The parties also march, and of course the groups of the Detained, the Disappeared, the Political Prisoners, and those who fight for Human Rights and continue to try to achieve justice. The older people also walk, those who still remember what they have lived, those who go with a heavy heart and a flower in their hand. There are banners, left-wing flags, and signs that say “Never again” or that ask themselves “Where are they”. There are banners of collectivities coming from the neighborhoods, from the peripheral roots where the lack of privileges in this unequal society is felt in the flesh. However, a feeling of human parity pervades the atmosphere, of brotherhood in the commemoration of this half-century.
Until the “pacos” appear. The police, behind their armored cars, their pepper spray and water jets. And the memory is transformed into a sharp confrontation. Stones against the armored cars, handkerchiefs to cover their faces against the pungent fumes. A David against the same old Goliath, of all these long years since the dictatorship until now. The state police brutally repressed, even among the paths of the cemetery, among the graves near the Memorial.
Didn’t we elect a different government, didn’t the President even march among the human rights organizations this morning, why all this fury, all this repression, all this anger, especially directed at young people? Ana María Gazmuri, the deputy for Acción Humanista described the situation as “outrageous”, and reiterated the difficulty of traveling along the authorized route “because they have repressed us. Pepper spray is being used. This can’t be.
“The march hadn’t even started and they were repressing us. It hurts profoundly that this is happening now, 50 years after the military coup,” she said.
For her part, Lorena Pizarro, a historical human rights activist, said:
It is unacceptable that the march for the 50th anniversary of the military coup has been cut short, it is a totally unnecessary provocation by the authorities. On the other hand, the level of violence against family members and left-wing parties shows a high level of infiltration.
The foreign correspondents deplore the treatment they have received: their cameras have been damaged, and a cameraman has been knocked unconscious with water jets, injuring his leg. He ended up in the Posta Central.
So far, the day has left three people arrested and three police officers injured. In addition, attacks on police stations and mausoleums have been recorded. The Palacio de La Moneda has been vandalized and there has been damage to the neighboring Cultural Center.
Who is this authority that provokes? Why does it continue to do so? How long will the Ministry of the Interior resort to the same practices? Fifty years after the coup, we continue with identical procedures of repression towards the people, towards those who remember and seek truth, justice and reconciliation. They are incited, they are violated. Fifty years after the military coup, nothing seems to have changed, our country is still extremely divided, shaken, wounded and unable to move towards a real reunion.
Pía Figueroa Co-Director of Pressenza, life-long humanist, author of several monographs and books.