After five years of exile in Italy, one time Vice President Bernardo Leighton returned home to Chile on Tuesday (20 June).
After five years of exile in Italy, one time Vice President Bernardo Leighton returned home to Chile on Tuesday (20 June). Senor Leighton -- who served on the Christian Democrat Government of Eduardo Frei from 1964 to 1970 -- cooperated with the following Marxist Government of Salvador Allende and, when this was overthrown by the military coup of 1973, he went into voluntary exile. He has long been a critic of the present Government and had been refused permission to return until now.
SYNOPSIS: The crowd waiting to greet Senor leighton was not allowed inside the airport buildings -- but a small group of friends, including former President Frei (seen here on the right), were permitted into the arrival lounge. There have been demonstrations in Chile, supporting Senor Leighton's application to return, and the military government authorised his re-entry in May. Many of those waiting at the airport were former colleagues in the now-banned Christian Democrat party.
In 1975, while Senor Leighton and his wife Anita were living in Rome, they were attacked by unknown gunmen. The shooting incident left Senor Leighton almost deaf and his wife in a wheelchair. The crowd chanted "Leighton, Leighton" and the slogan "The spirit of Chile is, and will be, free."
When Vice President, Senor leighton was considered to be on the left wing of the Christian Democrat party. He advocated co-operation with the Marxist Allende government, to avoid a possible breakdown of the party system. The Christian Democrat party was suspended by the military junta of General Pinochet in 1973 and, along with all other political parties, banned in 1977.