The Caupolican theatre in Santiago is symbolic. It was the site of antigovernment rallies during the Pinochet dictatorship. It was were President Frei Montalva rejected the institutionalization of the regime following the fraudulent constitutional plebiscite of 1980.
And on Sunday it was the site of a tribute to Augusto Pinochet. The event attracted about 1000 die hard Pinochetistas, including former members of his government and some family members.
1) Is it worth banning such events? Would it not be better to let these people fester in their own memories of torture and general mayhem?
2) This is the second such tribute in less than a year. Why is it that Pinochet supporters suddenly feel emboldened to hold such public displays of affection for the dictator? Is there something this government is doing, or not doing, that is contributing to this renewed sense of pride?
3) Is the presence of 1000 people, most of whom are the same mix of former government members and older, middle class women who took to the streets when Pinochet died, a signal of a renewed Pinochetismo, or the last gasp of a dying breed?
4) Why did the police arrest the anti-Pinochet demonstrators but escort the Pinochet supporters out a back door and then supply buses to transport them away from the theatre?
5) Why is no one pressuring the owners of the theatre? In North America, it seems to me, when these types of events occur or threaten to occur, the first recourse is to pressure the venue.
6) Is reconciliation possible? Is it even desirable? Yesterday, government spokesman Andrés Chadwick, a cousin of the president, a member of the UDI, and, together with fellow ministers Lavin, Longueira and Dittborn, one of the 'stars' of an infamous picture with Pinochet, declared he regretted his support for Pinochet in light of what he now knows of the human rights abuses committed under the regime. Perhaps events such as the Pinochet tribute provide valuable learning opportunities, no matter how painful the process may be.