With a long delay and amid much controversy, Gabriel Boric’s government has finally published its commemorative program for the 50th anniversary of the September 11, 1973 coup.
The start of the activities, under the slogan “Democracy is memory and the future,” took place on Wednesday, during the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, with the launch of the National Plan for the Search for Truth and Justice, aimed at shedding light on the fate of the Chilean desaparecidos.
The culmination of the commemorations will of course take place on September 11, when the government will receive Latin American and other heads of state and government at La Moneda. Three other important moments are planned during the day: an event with Salvador Allende’s family members and associates in the presidential palace; the signing of the “For Democracy, Today and Always” pledge, to which the government has invited representatives from all political sectors; and the reading aloud by ministers of the names of public officials executed and made to disappear during the 17 years of the dictatorship.
Before that, among several other initiatives, the government will put forward its human rights agenda on September 5th, and the “Dialogues for Memory and Democracy” will take place on the 8th, a space for civil society to meet and reflect on the breakdown of democracy and the challenges of the present and future.
However, the launch of the calendar of activities does not erase the criticism directed at the government by parts of the left and human rights organizations, not only for its repeated delays but, first and foremost, for its ambiguous stance on the coup and the events that preceded it, beginning with Boric’s call for a reinterpretation of the pre-coup events involving Unidad Popular that wouldn’t be “only from a mythical perspective.” Such hedging is all the more serious in the face of an unprecedented wave of revisionism in the country.
In early July, the coordinator of the commemorative activities, Patricio Fernández, ended up under the spotlight and was forced to resign following some unfortunate statements which tended to some extent to relativize the seriousness of the coup. He said that one could continue to debate “why it happened and what the reasons were,” but “what we can agree on is the unacceptability of the events following the coup” – as if it were possible to separate the coup itself from the horrors that ensued.
This stance, while rejected by Boric himself, was in line with the one taken by a number of right-wingers, such as former President Sebastián Piñera, who claimed the coup had been “unavoidable” after the Unidad Popular government’s violations of the Constitution, aimed at establishing “a Marxist dictatorship” in Chile.
How far revisionism has come in Chile can be seen in the victory of the right-wingers on August 22, when, amid indignant protests from the majority in the Chamber of Deputies, they managed to read out the resolution of August 22, 1973 in which the lower house denounced a supposed “serious breakdown of the constitutional and legal order of the Republic” by the Allende government – an explicit green light for the armed forces to carry out the coup that would take place shortly thereafter.
According to Socialist Deputy Daniel Manouchehri, with this gesture, the right-wing representatives “are telling us that they would repeat the same crimes today. They should be ashamed of this paean to criminals, murderers and rapists. The right is regressing back to Pinochetism, and this is bad for Chile.”
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