SANTIAGO, Sept. 9 -- Chilean President Sebastian Pinera called for the unity of the people to prevent a repeat of history, as the nation commemorated the 40th anniversary of the 1973 military coup on Monday.
During a ceremony at the presidential palace of La Moneda, following the re-inauguration of the central Constitution Square here, Pinera stressed the importance of nurturing democracy and the rule of law.
He said the nation's judicial powers were partly to blame for the rupture of democracy during the military dictatorship, since they failed to uphold their constitutional duty to investigate abuse, as were media outlets that failed to objectively report what was happening at the time.
He also extended a mea culpa, saying "those of us who could have done more for human rights also bear a burden of responsibility."
To promote healing, Pinera proposed having "shared responsibility," if not equal responsibility.
He first acknowledged the serious crimes committed by the military regime of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, then said the coup was sparked by deep divisions in the Chilean society in the 1960s.
"On Sept. 11, 1973, a violent military coup brought to an end (the government of) Popular Unity and initiated 17 years of military rule. Nevertheless, it was not sudden or surprising, but the foreseeable, though not inevitable, outcome of the long and painful suffering of the values of the Chilean society," he said.
Pinera praised the process of democratic transition that began in 1990,
after Pinochet relinquished power, and called on the older generations to avoid passing on their pain and hatred to the younger generations.
"Unfortunately, we cannot bring back the dead or recover the missing, but we have to do everything we can to make progress in the area of truth and reconciliation," said Pinera.
The president urged Chileans to mark the 40th anniversary of the military coup peacefully and with a sense of unity.