Activists in Chile are marking their own tragic history on September 11 this week. The infamous day is also the 40th anniversary of Augusto Pinchet's seizure of power from Chile's democratically elected leader Salavador Allende in a military coup in 1973, resulting in 17 years of brutal military rule. The U.S. is said to have played a role in the coup ousting Allende's socialist grip, backing Pinochet's rise to power. The day has prompted large crowds at remembrance ceremonies and political demonstrations across Chile.
The day is a sore wound in Chilean history. All told, Pinochet's military regime killed more than 3,000 people, with many bodies left in unmarked graves or dumped at sea. Beyond the death toll, estimates say as many as 40,000 Chileans suffered horrific human rights abuses during military rule in the country from 1973 to 1990. Many victims are still seeking justice.
The anniversary has prompted violent rumblings in the past; this year street protests began particularly early in the morning on September 11 and have been heavily attended. While many demonstrators focused on memorializing lost loved ones and seeking justice for the perpetrators who killed them, a large number took to the streets to demand social reforms similar to those once promised by ousted Popular Unity Party leader Allende.
Protesters lit bonfires and engaged in violent clashes with police early on this Tuesday, as police shot water cannons and tear gas. A memorial ceremony for the Allende led by some Chilean activists on Sunday also ended in clashes with police.
Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter tried to quell the upheaval, saying, "The people suffering from this violence have nothing to do with what happened on Sept. 11, 1973."
Chile's former President Michele Bachelet stands alongside her mother and wipes a tear during a remembrance ceremony on Tuesday at Villa Grimaldi compound. Bachelet's father was tortured to death for opposing the 1973 coup.
Alicia Lira, President of the Association of Relatives of Executed Politicians, embraces a woman near a memorial of photos of loved ones.
Loved ones visit memorial sites to remember the victims of Pinochet's reign.
Photos are added nearby stone memorials remebering the names of the thousands of dead Chileans who suffered under Pinochet's rule.
A woman wears a sign and holds the hand of a young girl near a memorial site for loved ones lost.
Demonstrators marched to remember the roughly 40,000 people killed, imprisoned or tortured by Augusto Pinochet after ousting Allende on September 11, 1973. They shouted calls for "truth" and "peace." After several hours of marches, police fired tear gas and used water cannons to attempt to clear the streets.
Chilean protesters donning the national colors demonstrate in the main streets of Santiago. One holds a sign (to the right) of popular singer and activist Victor Jara, who was killed by the military following the 1973 coup. Jara's loved ones and fans are still actively seeking justice to identify and punish the individuals responsible for his murder.
Police take hold of two individuals during clashes. Police fired tear gas and high-pressure water hoses to attempt to scatter crowds.
Demonstrators clash with police.
A woman clashes with police during demonstrations outside government buildings in Santiago.
Hooded demonstrators set small bonfires across protest areas, including this service station during Tuesday's disturbance.
Hooded demonstrators burn a policeman's cap during demonstrations in Chile on Tuesday.
Police shoot water cannons upon protesters and also make arrests to disperse demonstrations in Santiago.
Bonfires were set in the streets during 9/11 demonstrations in Chile. Images of the American flag allude to allegations of U.S. involvement in backing Pinchet's 1973 coup.
A tank moves towards the Presidential palace in a September 11, 1973 photo during the coup against President Salvador Allende's government that led to Pinochet's rise to power.
This 1971 image of former Chilean President Salvador Allende has become iconic as Chileans remember the anniversary of his ousting and death. Chile's supreme court only recently closed the books on the official invesitgation of his death, ruling it a suicide.
President Sebastian Pinera draws an audience for a commemoration address from La Mondea Presidential Palace on September 10, 2013 in Santiago, Chile.
The government led a commemoration ceremony in memory of those who lost their lives during military rule under Pinochet. Pinera requested Chileans turn to peace, but clashes raged on.