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50 Wounded, 200 Detained in Protests On Coup Anniversary

September 12, 1988

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) _ At least 50 people were injured during anti-government demonstrations marking the 15th anniersary of the military coup that installed President Augusto Pinochet, police said today.

The protests, which occurred mostly in slums and working-class neighborhoods of the capital, ended early today after more than 200 people were taken into custody, police said.

Sparked by the anniversary Sunday, the protests included the stoning of Pinochet’s motorcade during a campaign tour on the anniversary of the 1973 coup that ousted the elected government of President Salvador Allende, reporters at the scene and Radio Cooperativa said.

Police fired buckshot and used tear gas and water cannon to disperse bands of protesters who hurled stones and erected barricades of burning tires in the poorer residential zones ringing Santiago. Some 50 people suffered bullet or buckshot wounds, police said.

In ceremonies marking the anniversary, Pinochet declared Sunday, ″I am ready to give my last breath to my country,″ and urged citizens to vote to give him eight more years of rule.

Pinochet is the only candidate in the presidential referendum, set for Oct. 5.

Shortly after the speech, nearly 5,000 protesters in the coastal resort of Vina del Mar battled riot police following the largest ever memorial service at the grave of Allende, who perished in the coup.

Reporters said Gen. Pinochet’s bodyguards opened fire after his motorcade was stoned in Cerro Navia, a working-class suburb north of Santiago. They said at least four protesters suffered bullet wounds.

Police did not report any injuries or arrests in Cerro Navia, but said 142 people were arrested in Vina del Mar when people tried to march from the cemetery into the resort’s center.

Pinochet was booed by hundreds of people when he arrived in Cerro Navia.

Many hurled rocks at his motorcade, and Radio Cooperativa said Pinochet’s bodyguards fired shots into the air as vehicles maneuvered around barricades of burning tires.

Earlier in the day, in a nationally televised speech marking the Sept. 11, 1973, overthrow of Allende, Pinochet said Chileans were morally bound to support his sole candidacy in the presidential plebiscite.

The 72-year-old army commander said citizens face a choice in the yes-or-no ballot between ″consolidating the democratic society contemplated in the country’s constitution or destroying 15 years of patriotic labor for Chile.″

If a majority vote against his continued rule, an open election will be held next year and he will hand power over to the winner in 1990.

Whether Pinochet wins or loses the vote, elections for a Congress are planned for 1990. But the legislature will be virtually powerless to amend an 8-year-old constitution that gives the armed forces freedom from civilian control and a role in national policy-making.

Pinochet said his new government would be fully democratic. ″All sectors will be present,″ he said.

But he attacked those who ″do not recognize the political system in effect, aligning themselves with totalitarian groups.″ A coalition of 16 parties, from the political center-right to the Socialist left, are campaigning actively for his defeat in the referendum.

A leader of the opposition coalition, Genaro Arriagada, called Pinochet’s speech ″mediocre.″

″Pinochet must be judged by his merciless exercise of power, and not by his words,″ he said.

A government press office statement said police found and deactivated a time bomb in a car across from the building where Pinochet spoke.

The statement did not explain how the car and its contents avoided earlier discovery by police, who had combed the area intensively and were seen to be towing away other cars hours beforehand.

In Vina del Mar, 75 miles northwest of Santiago, police used tear gas, water cannon and nightsticks to break up the nearly 5,000 demonstrators who tried to march through the streets after the tribute to Allende, a Marxist.

Reporters saw a few demonstrators injured, including a young man bleeding from the head after being clubbed by two policemen. Authorities did not report any injuries but said 142 people were detained.

According to the government, Allende shot himself in the head with a carbine as the Presidential Palace was in flames and under attack by troops. Allende had declared he would not allow himself to be deposed and taken out of the palace alive, and the military version is accepted by most Chileans and historians.

The military government had barred the placing of a tombstone to mark Allende’s grave, but on Sunday there was a small marble plaque from the Socialist Party.

During the graveside ceremony, many mourners wept. After hearing a recording of Allende’s last speech to the nation, people in the crowd chanted, ″We can feel it, we can feel it, Allende is here.″

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