SANTIAGO, Chile – President Michelle Bachelet on Monday urged Chileans "to work for a better and deeper democracy" during a ceremony to mark the 33rd anniversary of the bloody military coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
Bachelet also paid tribute to Salvador Allende, the freely elected Marxist president toppled by Pinochet on Sep. 11, 1973.
The president, a member of Allende's Socialist Party, placed a red carnation at the site in La Moneda presidential palace where Allende committed suicide with a submachinegun presented to him by Cuban leader Fidel Castro rather than surrender to the military.
Chileans, Bachelet said, must work for "a country with greater justice and solidarity, which is the reason why those who fell here fought," a reference to several of Allende's followers, mainly his bodyguards, who fell opposing the coup.
"We have to reflect and keep in mind that it is indispensable to work for a better and deeper democracy," she said.
Two of Allende's daughters, Isabel, who is now a congresswoman, and Carmen, attended the ceremony along with several former aides.
As the ceremony took place, police clashed with masked demonstrators some 20 blocks away from the palace in front of a university campus.
The date of the anniversary of the coup has triggered violent protests in the past. On Sunday clashes between demonstrators and police erupted during a march of several thousand people to the city's main cemetery to pay tribute to the 3,197 people who were killed for political reasons under Pinochet.
The government said Monday that five police officers were injured and 72 people were arrested in Sunday's clash.
Pinochet, meanwhile, remained secluded at his guarded mansion in a Santiago suburb, and the supporters who in previous years used to go there to greet him, were nowhere to be seen. He is under indictment for human rights abuses and tax evasion.