Pinochet’s ghost haunts divisive Chilean election


SANTIAGO (Reuters) – At a rally for right-wing Chilean presidential candidate José Antonio Kast on Thursday night time, dozens of supporters gathered round a truck mounted with audio system to take heed to the nation’s nationwide anthem.

After the tune ended, they added a flourish in unison: “Viva Pinochet,” or, roughly, “Lengthy Stay Pinochet.”

They had been referring to Augusto Pinochet, the army normal who overthrew the nation’s democratically elected authorities in a bloody 1973 coup. Throughout his 17-year reign, extra then 3,000 folks had been killed or disappeared and tens of hundreds tortured.

But 31 years after Pinochet relinquished energy in 1990, his ghost stays potent as voters head to the polls in a divisive election on Sunday. That’s partly due to a presidential candidate who has defended facets of his legacy.

Kast, an ultra-conservative former congressman who has a slight lead within the polls, raised eyebrows throughout a gathering with overseas correspondents earlier in November, saying Pinochet’s regime couldn’t be thought of a dictatorship on par with the present governments in Nicaragua and Venezuela. Pinochet handed over energy peacefully, he argued, and the political opposition was not shut down.

He has since partially walked again these statements, however his place clashes considerably with that of his leftist opponent, 35-year-old lawmaker Gabriel Boric, who has pledged to dismantle Pinochet’s neoliberal legacy – and even with most mainstream politicians on Chile’s Proper.

Nonetheless, lots of his backers are firmly behind the previous normal, who died in 2006 with out going through justice. In seven Reuters interviews with Kast supporters, all however one supported Pinochet. Polls present a sizeable minority of voters on this nation of 19 million folks nonetheless admire the previous dictator, crediting him with spurring financial progress through free-market reforms whereas imposing order.

“We’ve a convention that goes again a few years,” mentioned Braulio Wilckens Claussen, a 36-year-old machinist who can be voting for Kast. “Assist for Pinochet has woken up. Assist for liberty has woken up.”

Patricia Munoz, a 64-year-old Kast supporter from the upscale Santiago district of Vitacura, agreed.

“I preferred Pinochet as a result of he was powerful,” she mentioned. “If Pinochet did unhealthy issues, it is as a result of folks had been doing unhealthy issues.”

(Reporting by Gram Slattery; Modifying by Daniel Wallis)

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