A proposed law presented by Chilean parliament member Karol Cariola of the Communist Party, and signed by several other members of parliament, would remove all monuments and dedications to members of Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship, which violently ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990.
The law would “arrange for the removal of those monuments that exalt the figures of people who were part of the military dictatorship, and where appropriate, rename those spaces located in national assets that currently pay homage to said people.”
“Today there are still public spaces, including spaces belonging to the state... that bear the names of military dictatorship members, accomplices in the dictatorship,” Cariola said according to the Chilean paper La Nacion
A military government led by Augusto Pinochet assumed power in Chile in 1973 following the U.S.-backed coup against the democratic socialist President Salvador Allende on September 11. Cariola said that the coup “was one of the most painful and difficult moments in the history of our country.”
“For this reason, it is not possible, for example, that there is a sign on the road that bears the name of Augusto Pinochet,” she said.
Another parliament member, Cristina Girardi who is backing the proposal, said that the continued existence of monuments to Pinochet is the same as if statues of Hitler were put up in Germany.
“Imagine what the German people would think if someone raised a statue of Hitler? That simply is unthinkable in those countries that have honestly assumed the responsibility that they had regimes which were absolutely genocidal,” Girardi said.
She called on Chile to “have conscience” that a genocide occured in Chile, and that there was a “systematic elimination of selected people that didn't think the same as the dictatorship of Pinochet and the Junta.”
Although it has been over a decade since Pinochet died, and several since the fall of the military government, the legacy of the 1973 September 11 coup still lives on in more than just statues and monuments.
With a constitution and legal structure that is still derived from the Pinochet period, many social movements are calling for a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution, which they say enshrines the archetypal neoliberal model that was imposed on the country by the United States.