Chileans march on September 8, 2013 in Santiago to remember the victims of a US-backed coup that overthrew Chilean President Salvador Allende and brought General Augusto Pinochet to power on September 11, 1973.
Chileans have marked the 40th anniversary of a CIA-backed coup that overthrew the South American country’s democratically elected President Salvador Allende and brought General Augusto Pinochet to power.
On Wednesday, tens of thousands of Chileans marched in and around the capital Santiago to remember the 40,000 people killed, imprisoned or tortured by the military dictatorship of Pinochet after he toppled the socialist Allende on September 11, 1973.
That day, Allende took his own life as Pinochet’s troops stormed the La Moneda presidential palace following an aerial bombardment.
The Central Intelligence Agency played a key role in the events leading up to the September 11 military coup and later helped the junta establish one of the 20th-century’s worst dictatorships in Latin America.
"After 40 years, the time has come not to forget but rather to overcome the traumas of the past," Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said during a ceremony held in the capital to mark the coup.
"The best legacy we can leave our children is a country reconciled and at peace,” he added.
Pinera stated that reconciliation will require Chileans "to continue on the path of truth and justice."
The president condemned those responsible for human rights violations during Pinochet’s despotic rule until 1990.
On Sunday, more than 60,000 Chileans marched to honor the victims who were killed by the Pinochet regime.
Many of the people carried pictures of their relatives who were abducted or killed during the Pinochet regime and held signs with slogans such as "40 years after the coup, nobody and no one has been forgotten."
Sunday’s two-hour march ended at a cemetery with a memorial to the victims.
"Forty years on, we are still demanding truth and justice. We won't rest until we find out what happened to our loved ones who were arrested and went missing" never to return, said Lorena Pizarro, leader of a relatives' rights group.
More than 3,200 people were killed and about 38,000 others were imprisoned and tortured on political grounds under the Pinochet regime.
Pinochet died in 2006, aged 91, without ever having gone on trial for the atrocities he had committed during his 17-year rule.
The 1973 Chilean coup is referred to by many in Latin America as the “first 9/11.”