Augusto Pinochet Pinochet stirs controversy from grave as home becomes visitor attraction





On a tree-lined street in a quiet suburb of north-east Santiago, the two-storey house looks like any middle-class family home. Yet 2244 O'Brien Street is one of the Chilean capital's most controversial addresses: the former home of one of South America's most notorious dictators, General Augusto Pinochet.

Today, two years after the death of the notorious dictator, the house is opening as a visitor attraction.

Displays include an extensive collection of model soldiers, a throne-like chair used for afternoon breaks, treasured statues of Napoleon, and the uniform Pinochet wore when leading the 1973 coup that overthrew the Marxist president Salvador Allende.

The centrepiece of the museum, in the affluent neighbourhood of Vitacura, will be the general's fully restored office. The rest of the exhibit comprises display cabinets filled with military awards and gifts received from around the world, including a samurai sword from Japan and – oddly, given famously tense relations – a medal from Cuba...

Chile is still sharply divided over the general, who died from heart complications, aged 91, on 10 December 2006. The anniversary of his death this month saw ardent supporters – who say he turned around Chile's fortunes and refer to him affectionately as "my general" – making pilgrimages to his tomb to pay respects. Opponents will never forgive the torture and "disappearances" suffered during his regime or the failed war crimes trial which disintegrated in 2000 after he was deemed to be suffering dementia.

Reaction to the museum is similarly polarised...


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