Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Pinochet victim likely to be next President of Chile: "Current polls on the Dec. 11 election show Michelle Bachelet ... with a staggering 24-percentage-point lead on her closest rival."

"In January 1975 Bachelet was arrested by a Chilean military squad. As a member of the outlawed Socialist Party, Bachelet was part of an underground resistance and one of thousands accused of being an enemy of the military government led by Army General Augusto Pinochet. Bachelet found herself under surveillance and then the military sought to eliminate her."

""Our room had bars on the window," said Bachelet. "We had four or five bunks, and we were eight women. The beds were full, sometimes two women slept together, we didn't all fit . . . We were blindfolded all day, we took them off, but obviously when the guards arrived we lowered the blindfolds. If not, they beat us."

"The 1973-1990 Pinochet government killed approximately 3,000 Chileans. Many of them, including Bachelet's boyfriend, simply "disappeared" and their bodies have never been located. Bachelet's father Alberto, a general in the Chilean Air Force, was accused of working with the socialist Allende government. He was tortured by his colleagues until his heart collapsed. He died in a public prison cell.

"Bachelet's mother, Angela Jeria, was kidnapped together with her daughter and locked in a cage for five days without food. Their cellmates were raped by guards."

"Thanks to their family connections to top military officials, Bachelet and her mother were spared death. Instead they were beaten, then exiled to Australia with orders not to re-enter Chile. Bachelet, ever the rebel, quickly helped organize Socialist Party resistance groups and secretly planned her return to Chile."

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