New Chile museum dedicated to dictator's 31,000 victims

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That Chile is recognizing victims of its military dictatorship in a striking new "monument to memories" is positive, said Iglesias, both a victim and a historian of Augusto Pinochet's bloody 17-year rule. As a high-school student activist in Santiago in 1975, she was tortured before fleeing with her family to France.

The $19 million museum that opens in downtown Santiago on Jan. 11 is dedicated to the 31,000 murder, torture and kidnapping victims during the 1973-1990 military dictatorship of Gen. Pinochet. Museum directors are keeping a tight lid on the specific exhibits, hoping for maximum effect.

Designed by Brazilian architect Mario Figueroa, the block-like, three-story construction is sheathed in a striking green metallic screen of oxidized copper.

The opening ceremony is bound to be an emotional event for a country still in recovery from national trauma. Chileans are divided over the atrocities of the past and how to deal with them. The inauguration is sure to push those divisions to the fore.

The project was spearheaded by President Michelle Bachelet, a torture victim herself whose father, an air-force general who opposed Pinochet, died of heart failure under torture.

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