Some 5,000 people, including friends and relatives of the victims of the dictatorship, participated on Sunday in a procession at Santiago's General Cemetery to commemorate the 39th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 1973, military coup in Chile, but the event ended with several violent incidents and a number of arrests.
The march, which began around 11 a.m. (1400 GMT) a few blocks from the center of the capital, was conducted without problems, but a few minutes after the start of a cultural event at the cemetery entrance, some 50 masked people began to cause disorder and clash with police.
Members of the Carabineros (Chile's militarized police) responded with tear gas and water cannon to defend themselves from the shower of projectiles thrown by the masked protesters, many of whom threatened members of the media who were on the scene.
Authorities also had to put out bonfires that had been lit along the main avenue leading to the Memorial to the Disappeared Detainee at the cemetery and police made several arrests, although no official announcement was made on that subject.
An hour after the procession - in which high school leaders also participated - ended, dozens of demonstrators, most of them masked, entered the cemetery where, amid the graves and mausoleums, they continued their confrontation with police until about 2 p.m. (1700 GMT).
The procession on Sunday kicked off the commemoration of the 1973 coup that suppressed Chilean democracy for 17 years, and on Tuesday various groups will place floral offerings at the Morande 80 entrance at La Moneda Palace, which was habitually used by late President Salvador Allende, who died in the coup.
Also on Tuesday, relatives and members of the Socialist Party will visit the monument to Allende, which stands next to the presidential residence, along with staging other demonstrations.
The president of the Relatives of the Disappeared Detainees Group, or AFDD, Lorena Pizarro, called on the current government "to end impunity and police repression and move forward in truth and justice."
During the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, according to official figures, some 3,200 Chileans died at the hands of agents of the state and of those 1,192 are still classified as disappeared detainees.
In addition, more than 30,000 people were tortured or were jailed as political prisoners by the military regime. EFE