SANTIAGO – Margot Honecker, the widow of East German ruler Erich Honecker, died on Friday in the Chilean capital after a battle with cancer. She was 89.
She died at 7:15 a.m., surrounded by her loved ones, family members told Canal 24 horas television.
Erich Honecker (1912-1994) led the former German Democratic Republic from 1976-1989.
East Germany provided asylum to Chileans who fled their country during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of the late Gen. Augusto Pinochet, including Michelle Bachelet, who is now Chile’s president.
With the restoration of democracy in 1990, some Chileans who spent time in East Germany as refugees ascended to positions of power and influence.
In December 1991, the Honeckers took refuge at the Chilean Embassy in Moscow, where they remained for 18 months under the protection of Ambassador Clodomiro Almeyda, a personal friend of the couple.
But in July 1992, the Russian government handed Erick Honecker over to Germany for prosecution for the deaths of 49 people killed while trying to cross the Berlin Wall.
Margot Honecker, however, traveled to Chile with daughter Sonia, who was married to a Chilean citizen.
Diagnosed with terminal cancer, Erich Honecker was freed from prison on humanitarian grounds in early 1993 and joined his family in Chile, where he died in May 1994. Since then, Margot lived a modest life in Santiago, getting by on a German government pension of around $750 a month.
In a rare public appearance, she defended East Germany and the Berlin Wall in a 2012 interview with German television.