Monday, 15 December 2008

New museum in memory of Pinochet

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by Kathryn Hadley

The Pinochet Foundation Museum in Santiago, Chile, was inaugurated on Friday December 12th, two days after the second anniversary of Pinochet’s death, by family, friends and supporters of his regime. The museum was officially opened to the public today. More than 150 people have already registered to visit the display of the dictators’ medals, sabers, books, his collection of toy soldiers, his desk and uniforms, which include the last uniform that he wore as commander in chief of the Chilean Army. The museum is devoted to the memory of the dictator. Its construction was sponsored by the Pinochet Foundation, which includes supporters and former aides to Pinochet, and was to a large extent financed by private donations.

Its inauguration has, however, sparked considerable controversy and opposition from victims of the dictatorship. In 1973, General Augusto Pinochet led a military coup against the socialist government of Salvador Allende ushering in 17 years of dictatorship. According to official reports, 3,197 suspected leftists were assassinated before he left power in 1990 and approximately 28,000 were tortured. Pinochet died on December 10th, 2006. Shortly before his death, he recognised the human rights abuses committed during his rule. He never issued an official apology, however, and was never put on trial.

Tito Tricot, an academic who was tortured under Pinochet’s regime condemned the inauguration of the museum:

"Any monument to a dictator is shameful to the memory of all those who fell in the fight against the dictatorship […]. It is a reflection of what is going on in this country, of a negotiated, agreed transition, in which justice has not been done […]. It is offensive to me. Shameful."

Supporters of the former dictator still claim, however, that Pinochet saved Chile from being transformed into a communist dictatorship and credit him for successfully rebuilding Chile’s allegedly broken economy following Allende’s presidency.
For more information on the memory of Pinochet's dictatorship read our article

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