Thirty nine years ago on 11 September 1973 Chile’s democratically elected President Salvador Allende was overthrown by a military coup and died among questionable circumstances.

On Tuesday Chile’s Supreme Court ended the judicial review of Allende’s death, concluding that he committed suicide. Nevertheless, many still doubt these findings, as well as the precise conditions and pressures under which this act may have taken place. There are thousands of other cases and names, however, that have been left without justice.

…unearthing the bones of those that fell victim…

Countless Chilean families have yet to receive any answers about their lost loved ones. A spate of recent documentaries and the annual anniversary protests are highlighting this one again. Among these, Nostalgia for the Light directed by Patricio Guzmán, contains moving scenes of mothers scouring the Atacama Desert, unearthing the bones of those that fell victim to Augusto Pinochet’s seventeen year long regime. As the documentary clearly conveys, the tragedy of this history lies in the fact that this desert is merely one area of many where the human remains and evidence of Pinochet’s atrocities remain concealed.

Demonstrations were held in Santiago to mark and remember the day of the coup, with reports of violent clashes developing. Police were said to have used water canons and tear gas against the crowds, who commemorated their losses through carrying photos of those who were killed or went missing during this period.  The regime saw the death or disappearance of a minimum of 3,200 people, while at least another 37,000 were either imprisoned or tortured.

…victims of the twin-towers terror attacks…

Pinochet died in 2006 without facing any convictions for the crimes committed during his tenure. Pressures are now building though upon the current government to provide answers that have long been evaded and avoided.

Every year on 9/11, while the world and its media remembers the deaths of the 3000 victims of the twin-towers terror attacks, it forgets tens of thousands of disappeared and assassinated Chileans. Numerous families, who have yet to gain peace, continue to present their questions and queries to a state that for many still stems from and represents the very repressive currents they condemn.

The uncovering of the true extent of Pinochet’s atrocities is likely to be an exhausting and long process but its one that must be undertaken. What is more, this probing and searching journey undertaken by many Chileans through their chilling wasteland deserts and history will not end until real answers are provided or found.



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