General Augusto Pinochet had handed the presidential sash over to an elected civilian, Patricio Aylwin, though he would remain as army commander for another eight years. To celebrate Chile’s return to democracy, the new government held a celebratory inaugural in Santiago’s Estadio Nacional, the site where thousands of political prisoners had been detained, tortured and in some cases, executed in the aftermath of the 1973 military coup.
It was an extraordinary public event, and this video clip of the scene is worth seeing even if you don’t speak Spanish. Watch for the moment when Aylwin calls for “a climate of respect and confidence amog all Chileans, whether civilian or military.” At the mention of the military, there are boos and jeers from some spectators, but Aylwin seizes the moment and says, forcefully, “yes, my compatriots—civilians AND military. Chile is one nation.” He pauses for a few seconds then says, “the sins of a few cannot affect all. Chile is one nation.” There is a thundering round of applause.