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Memories Of Bloody Coup Still Haunt National Soccer Stadium

General Augusto Pinochet's long shadow still hangs over Chile’s Estadio Nacional

A decade after General Augusto Pinochet died, Chileans still feel the legacy of his regime and its horrific actions on a daily basis—and perhaps nowhere more tangibly than in soccer. Despite the celebrations that marked Chile’s victory in the Copa América Centenario in June 2016, soccer is still a highly sensitive area of Chilean culture. At the heart of it all is the country’s national stadium, the Estadio Nacional, in Santiago.

The morning after the bloody 1973 coup that brought Pinochet to power and left democratically elected president Salvador Allende dead, tens of thousands of Allende’s supporters were detained by the military, first in another sports stadium, the Estadio Chile, and other centers in the capital. (Among those held was singer-songwriter Víctor Jara, after whom the venue was eventually renamed.)

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