Socialist President Salvador Allende remains a symbol of the fight against injustice, his daughter said here Wednesday on the 40th anniversary of the coup that toppled Chile's elected head of state and launched 17 years of harsh military rule under Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
Sen. Isabel Allende, accompanied by her niece Maya Fernandez Allende, a candidate for Congress in the November elections, presided over the family's traditional commemoration at the monument to her father opposite the presidential palace in Santiago.
Partisans of Allende, who took his own life as troops stormed the presidential palace on Sept. 11, 1973, and relatives of people killed under Pinochet flocked to the monument during the course of the day.
Her father was a "principled leader, a social fighter who was always faithful to his word," Sen. Allende said.
Salvador Allende "would have felt proud to see the students in the street, demanding free, public education," she said, alluding to a series of mass student protests that began in 2011.
"We have the opportunity to work in a unitary way ... to win the next elections and lay down a broad, deep path of greater equality," the Socialist senator said, urging a vote for New Majority standard-bearer Michelle Bachelet in the Nov. 17 presidential contest.
That sentiment provoked boos and angry shouts from some in the crowd, reflecting the Chilean left's disappointment with Bachelet's performance during her previous term as president, in 2006-2010.
Sen. Allende, the cousin of acclaimed author Isabel Allende, told supporters that incumbent right-wing President Sebastian Piñera telephoned her Wednesday to express sympathy for the Allende family.
Though expressing appreciation for the president's gesture, she countered his plea earlier Wednesday for an end to "hatreds and legal actions" by insisting that Chile needs "truth and justice."
The 1973-1990 Pinochet regime killed more than 3,000 people, jailed around 38,000 others for political reasons - torturing most of them - and forced tens of thousands into exile.
In recent years, Chilean courts have begun to hold agents of the dictatorship accountable.
The issue of the coup hangs over this year's presidential race, which pits Bachelet against Evelyn Matthei, candidate of the governing rightist coalition.
The daughters of air force generals, Matthei and Bachelet were childhood friends, but their paths diverged sharply after the putsch.
While Bachelet's father, who opposed the coup, died as a result of torture by his brothers-in-arms, Matthei's dad became a member of the junta.
Bachelet and her mother were also tortured by Pinochet's secret police, but colleagues of her father ultimately managed to have them released and allowed to leave the country. EFE