President Bachelet commemorates September 11: “There are still a lot of questions to be answered, about many more people”
In the ceremony to commemorate a new anniversary of the Coup d’état and the death of former President Salvador Allende, the President of Chile announced that a bill will be put up for immediate discussion to raise the bar of secrecy on the information collected in the report of the Valech I Commission; a Rehabilitation Mechanism for Victims of Political Imprisonment and Torture, Forced Disappearance and Political Execution will be presented; and an agreement will be signed with the Legal Aid Corporation of the Metropolitan Region to allow law students to give legal aid to victims' family members.
This morning, President Michelle Bachelet led an ecumenical ceremony in memory of former President Salvador Allende Gossens and his staff members on the 44th anniversary of their deaths.
During the commemoration, attended by relatives of the former President and senior government officials, the President, accompanied by the Interior and Public Security Minister, Mario Fernández, unveiled a plaque recording a change in the name of the “Entre patios” Salon to “Democracy and Memory”.
After an ecumenical prayer, President Bachelet and the relatives of former President Allende went to the second floor of the north-east wing of La Moneda Palace, where they laid flowers at the Memorial Plaques. They also visited the White Salon, where the leader of the Popular Unity Government is thought to have spent the last minutes of his life.
“September is a harsh, honest mirror in which we recognize ourselves as Chileans, year after year. And more than usual this September, when a suspicion which had been gradually forming among us has become a certainty: the dictatorship perpetrated, in the most shameful and cowardly manner, the murder, the magnicide of former President Eduardo Frei Montalva, as the courts have now established”, said President Bachelet at the start of her speech.
She went on to say that regrettably “there are still a lot of questions to be answered, about many more people” and stated that “this is an overdue debt which we want to continue to pay with the instruments available to the State”.
On this point, she noted that this week she will send forward a bill for immediate discussion to raise the bar of secrecy on the information collected in the report of the Valech I Commission, to make this information available to the courts so as to move forward in trials which may currently be stalled.
Turning to the subject of reparation, she will present a Rehabilitation Mechanism for Victims of Political Imprisonment and Torture, Forced Disappearance and Political Execution, which, through an advisory commission, will review the information on individuals who were rejected by the Valech II Commission.
She also reported that in the coming months she will sign an agreement between the Human Rights Unit of the Interior Ministry and the Legal Aid Corporation of the Metropolitan Region to allow young law students to give legal aid to victims’ family members, supporting their access to justice and promoting reparatory and memorial work among recently qualified lawyers, which should be passed on from generation to generation.
“I will not allow the legitimate desire for justice and reparation of thousands of Chilean families to be made to appear revanchist. We all want to move on to a new phase of civic coexistence, but this demands truth and implies justice; not covering up things which, regrettably, have been covered up for too long”, the President stressed.
Finally, President Bachelet said that “we cannot allow personal beliefs, in politics, religion or values, to override our respect for the civic modes of coexistence of other people. The democratic institutions of Chile serve to unite the country, and it is wrong to use them as an excuse for division. Those who do not respect a diversity of views and persist in intolerance are not helping to make Chile the friendly, civilized community that we want”.
At the end of the ceremony, President Bachelet and the relatives of Salvador Allende visited his monument, located in Plaza de la Constitución in downtown Santiago, where “Last Words”, by the artist Álvaro Silva Wuth, was on display.