SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on Thursday asked anyone with information about those forcibly “disappeared” by the country’s 1973-90 dictatorship to come forward and help heal the country’s wounds.
Pinera also criticized Chile’s judicial system and the media for being complacent about abuses committed after Gen. Augusto Pinochet seized power in a coup that ousted Marxist President Salvador Allende. Chile’s government estimates 3,095 people were killed under Pinochet, including about 1,200 who disappeared.
“Truth is lacking for example when it comes to knowing the circumstances of how they died and the places where the persons who are still disappeared are buried, because that will bring relief not only to their family members but all of society,” Pinera told foreign correspondents at a meeting in La Moneda presidential palace.
“Anyone who can collaborate so we can get closer to the truth should come forward and disclose the information.”
Pinera’s is Chile’s first democratically elected conservative president in more than 50 years. Members of the two parties that make up his center-right coalition supported Pinochet’s dictatorship and several Pinochet-era officials now serve as lawmakers. Some of them have been asking for forgiveness ahead of the 40th anniversary of the coup next Wednesday.
Pinera’s government officially recognized 9,800 more victims of the dictatorship in 2011. That increased the total list of people killed, tortured or imprisoned for political reasons during Pinochet’s regime to 40,018.
“I think it’s good to remember, not to revive the same complaints, hate and divisions that caused so much suffering, but on the contrary, to learn together from those mistakes and light up the path into the future,” Pinera said.
“Truth and justice are two moral imperatives of any society that had to live moment as traumatic as those that were lived at that time. And of course, there’s still a lack of truth and justice.”