The Americas

Chilean ex-President Aylwin dies, led return to democracy

  • FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2006 file photo, Chile's former President Patricio Aylwin, center, attends a ceremony marking the 33rd anniversary of the military coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet, at La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, Chile, sitting between Chile's President Michelle Bachelet, left, and Congresswoman Isabel Allende, daughter of Salvador Allende, the president who was toppled in the coup. Aylwin, who lead Chile's transition from military dictatorship to democracy, died on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, according to the Interior Minister Jorge Burgos. He was 97. (AP Photo/Santiago Llanquin, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2006 file photo, Chile's former President Patricio Aylwin, center, attends a ceremony marking the 33rd anniversary of the military coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet, at La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, Chile, sitting between Chile's President Michelle Bachelet, left, and Congresswoman Isabel Allende, daughter of Salvador Allende, the president who was toppled in the coup. Aylwin, who lead Chile's transition from military dictatorship to democracy, died on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, according to the Interior Minister Jorge Burgos. He was 97. (AP Photo/Santiago Llanquin, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this March 11, 1990 photo, Chile's newly sworn-in President Patricio Aylwin acknowledges the crowd as Gen. Augusto Pinochet looks on, at Congress in Valparaiso, Chile. Aylwin, who lead Chile's transition from military dictatorship to democracy, died on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, according to the Interior Minister Jorge Burgos. He was 97. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

    In this March 11, 1990 photo, Chile's newly sworn-in President Patricio Aylwin acknowledges the crowd as Gen. Augusto Pinochet looks on, at Congress in Valparaiso, Chile. Aylwin, who lead Chile's transition from military dictatorship to democracy, died on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, according to the Interior Minister Jorge Burgos. He was 97. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this March 11, 1990 photo, Chile's newly sworn-in President Patricio Aylwin acknowledges the crowd outside La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, Chile. Aylwin, who lead Chile's transition from military dictatorship to democracy, died on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, according to the Interior Minister Jorge Burgos. He was 97. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

    In this March 11, 1990 photo, Chile's newly sworn-in President Patricio Aylwin acknowledges the crowd outside La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, Chile. Aylwin, who lead Chile's transition from military dictatorship to democracy, died on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, according to the Interior Minister Jorge Burgos. He was 97. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)  (The Associated Press)

Chile's first elected president after 17 years of brutal dictatorship has died. Patricio Aylwin was 97.

President Michelle Bachelet praised him as a man who "helped rebuild a democratic country" and said he will have a state funeral. She declared three days of national mourning after Tuesday's death.

Aylwin was at the center stage of Chilean politics for over half a century, serving as president from 1990 to 1994 and as a senator and seven times head of his centrist Christian Democratic Party.