Pinochet's funeral draws 60,000

Sixty-thousand mourners stood somberly at the military funeral for former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet in Santiago Tuesday morning.
Sixty-thousand mourners stood sombrely at themilitary funeral for former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet in Santiago Tuesday morning.
Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who was the dictator of Chile from 1973 to 1990, died Sunday from heart complications at the age of 91. ((Claudio Santana/Associated Press))

Family, friends, military leaders and supporterssurrounded Pinochet's coffin, which was draped in a Chilean flag andtopped by a military cap, sword and jacket.

The funeral, held in a sunny outdoor courtyard at the Santiago military college, did not include state honours. It was led by Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, who told the crowd that Pinochet was an exemplary former head of state.

Pinochetdied Sunday at the age of 91following complications from a heart attack. He was head of the army when, supported by the United States, he led a violent coup to oust the elected socialist government of President Salvador Allende in 1973.

In the 17 years that Pinochet ran the country, until he resigned in 1990, about 35,000 Chileanswere tortured,more than 3,000 disappeared — apparent victims of politically motivated executions —and hundreds of thousands fled into exile.

Following the funeral,Pinochet's coffin was to beflown by helicopter to an undisclosed location. His family, fearingthe tomb would be vandalized,has chosen to cremate Pinochet's remains. Only six per cent of Chileans opt for cremation.

Thousands lined up to walk past casket

Roughly 20,000 people spent hours waiting in the sun Monday outside themilitary collegewaiting for a chance to walk by the former general's glass-topped casket. Three masses were held in front of his casket.
A supporter of former military ruler Gen. Augusto Pinochet faints after seeing Pinochet's coffin at the Military Academy in Santiago. ((Claudio Santana/Associated Press))

Darkness didn't diminish the lineups, so Pinochet's family decided to keep thefarewell line going through the night. Many people wept as they kissed the casket.

Draped in a Chilean flag, Paula Riquelme said she came out of loyalty to Pinochet.

"I'm proud to be Chilean and I want the world to know the good things he did for us," she said.

Death sparked protests

Pinochet'sdeath sparked celebrations and violent protests across the country.

While Chilean President Michelle Bachelet quickly declared there would be no state funeral or national mourning period, Pinochet's supporters stood vigil outside the hospital where he died and the military college where his body was taken.

Pinochet's friend, Sergio Diaz, said it waspetty of the government to deny the former dictator a state funeral. Even if officials don't agree with his actions during his time in power, they should respect protocol, history and tradition, he said.

Chilean Interior Minister Belisario Velasco said Pinochet didn't meet the criteria for receiving such honours.

Pinochet, he said, was a right-wing dictator who gravely violated human rights and made himself wealthy in the process.

With files from the Associated Press