Ex Chilean Junta member Fernando Matthei dies at 92

SANTIAGO – Chile’s ex commander-in-chief of the Air Force, Fernando Matthei Aubel died on Sunday at the age of 92.

Mattheri, a member of the Military Junta with which Augusto Pinochet governed from 1973 to 1990, died at the Institutional Hospital of the Chilean Air Force, “due to an infectious disease that advanced very quickly,” according to the Chilean newspaper La Tercera.

His funeral took place at the Cemetery of the Souvenir Park, in Huechuraba, Santiago. Ex-president Sebastián Piñera, Defense Minister José Antonio Gómez, Commander in Chief of the Army Humberto Oviedo, and the mayor of Las Condes and Puente Alto also attended the ceremonies besides relatives and staff of FACh.

The former pilot was the father of Evelyn Matthei, who run and lost against Michelle Bachelet in the 2013 presidential election and since 2016 is mayor of Providencia, one of the main districts of the capital Santiago.

But General Matthei will be remembered for other events which made history in Chile. Following the 1973 military coup, (he did not participate since at the time he was military attaché in London), Matthei was named Public Health minister and later, July 1978, member of the ruling military Junta, when the ex Air Force representative was forced to resign because of discrepancies with Pinochet.

In 1988, Matthei was the first member of this group to recognize the triumph of “no” in the plebiscite in which Chileans had to answer whether or not they wanted Pinochet to remain in power.

Another standing event of his career was when he was instructed to coordinate efforts to help Britain with logistics and information to defeat the Argentine invasion of the Falklands in 1982.

The Chilean Air Force also pointed out his contribution to the force and the fact that he was the main proponent and creator of the International Air and Space Fair, FIDAE, which has since been held annually in Chile and is the most important of its kind in the Southern hemisphere.