Relief in Sweden over Pinochet’s death

On September 11th 1973 General Augusto Pinochet seized power in Chile in a military coup. On the same day, 22 year old mayor Freddy Weitzel was thrown in jail by the junta.

“I feel relieved that he is dead. I can’t say happy… but really, I am happy!” said Weitzel to TT on the telephone, 33 years after the day when Pinochet became synonmous with dictatorship, disappearances and murder.

A few hours after the news of the ex-dictator’s death, Wetzel sat in his apartment in Stockholm following the events on television. The pictures stirred up many memories.

“We have always had a shadow over Chile. That shadow is Pinochet. And you can’t say that Chile is a democratic country since we still have some laws which Pinochet introduced and which they haven’t been able to change,” said Weitzel.

For Freddy Weitzel himself, the military coup meant three years in prison in southern Chile and a broken family. His older brother Patricio “disappeared” and after several months his dead body was found.

“He was murdered,” said Freddy Weitzel, who holds Augusto Pinochet responsible for the murder of his 25 year old brother.

Like hundreds of other Chileans who moved to Sweden, Freddy Weitzel reported the general to the Swedish police.

“The prosecutor couldn’t do anything, but it was symbolic,” he explained.

Today, Freddy Weitzel is chairman of the Chilean Association in Sweden, where he was given asylum after his years in prison.

His crime was representing the Radical Party, which according to Weitzel is comparable to Sweden’s Social Democrats and was not accepted by Pinochet’s military junta.

When asked who else journalists should contact for comments on the former dictator’s death, Freddy Weitzel answered without hesitation:

“Harald Edelstam, who was Swedish ambassador in Chile during the dictatorship! But you won’t be able to, unfortunately, since he’s now dead. But he helped me and hundreds of others to Sweden.”