September 6 – Anniversary of a Quashed Holiday

Posted on September 6, 2018

What happens to a holiday celebrating a dictator who no longer rules a nation?

It used to be that Chile celebrated the "Day of National Liberation" every September 11, by order of the dictator Augusto Pinochet. Since Pinochet was a military general, I'm thinking it was military parades?

Pinochet ruled Chile for about 17 years. He trampled on human rights, persecuting and imprisoning and torturing and even executing people who criticized him or disagreed with him. Like, a lot of people: he imprisoned tens of thousands and executed thousands! Pinochet was also guilty of corruption - he amassed many millions of dollars while in power.

Did you know that
Chile has had a
female president,
Michelle Bachelet,
two different
terms since the
Pinochet regime?
In 1990 Pinochet was replaced, and in 1998 he was arrested on multiple charges. He spent most of the rest of his life under house arrest.

In 1998, Chilean lawmakers decided that the Day of National Liberation should be done away with. They substituted in another holiday, not tied to the dictator: Day of National Unity, which was to be celebrated the first Monday of September. 

The first celebration of the Day of National Unity was on this date in 1999.

It was supposed to be a day of reconciliation between supporters of Pinochet and people who despised him. It was supposed to be a day of remembering the victims of Pinochet's persecution.

But the holiday never caught on. The main thing that occurred was clashes between groups who disagreed about Pinochet's leadership and legacy. After three no-so-great "celebrations," lawmakers decided to end the holiday.

A nation that evaluates its holidays - and changes them when appropriate - that makes sense! 

Anyway, Chile didn't need to worry overmuch about getting rid of a holiday early in September, because Chile's Fiestas Patrias are coming soon, as you can see here and here. These holidays take almost a week, with this year's celebrations stretching from September 15 to September 19.

Also on this date:

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