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Narrow But Endlessly Deep

Narrow But Endlessly Deep: The struggle for memorialisation in Chile since the transition to democracy OPEN ACCESS

Copyright Date: 2016
Published by: ANU Press
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    Narrow But Endlessly Deep
    Book Description:

    On 11 September 1973, the Chilean Chief of the Armed Forces Augusto Pinochet overthrew the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende and installed a military dictatorship. Yet this is a book not of parties or ideologies but public history. It focuses on the memorials and memorialisers at seven sites of torture, extermination, and disappearance in Santiago, engaging with worldwide debates about why and how deeds of violence inflicted by the state on its own citizens should be remembered, and by whom. The sites investigated — including the infamous National Stadium — are among the most iconic of more than 1,000 such sites throughout the country. The study grants a glimpse of the depth of feeling that survivors and the families of the detained-disappeared and the politically executed bring to each of the sites. The book traces their struggle to memorialise each one, and so unfolds their idealism and hope, courage and frustration, their hatred, excitement, resentment, sadness, fear, division and disillusionment.

    eISBN: 978-1-76046-022-8
    Subjects: Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. On 11 September 1973, the Chilean Chief of the Armed Forces Augusto Pinochet overthrew the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende and installed a military dictatorship. He believed he had two justifications that were shared by almost all of his senior officers and many civilians. The first was that under the rule of President Allende the country had become ungovernable. The second was that Allende’s Chile might swing even further to the left to become a Cuban-style dictatorship of the proletariat. By 1990, when Pinochet stood down after an unsuccessful referendum to legitimate himself, the danger to conservative Chile had...

  2. Part I
    • The principal entertainer scheduled for the announcement of Allende’s plebiscite at the State University of Technology (Universidad Técnica del Estado, UTE) was Victor Lidio Jara Martínez, known as Victor Jara, idolised and controversial folk-singer, hero of the poor and the left, scourge of the rich and conservative. Jara was from the oppressed copper mining and rural poor. His alcoholic, abusive father abandoned the family when Victor was a child; his mother gathered herbs from the hills, while her son collected firewood and grass for the pigs. In the 1950s the family moved to Santiago.¹ In the early 1960s, he visited...

    • This chapter traces the journey of the many hundreds of bodies of victims killed in the first few months of the coup, from sites like the Stadium of Chile, to an obscure and humble precinct of the city’s principal cemetery. Doña Nena González, caretaker of Patio (Precinct) 29 carries the story. She holds all its memories. Nena has seen its every phase: evidence of secret, nocturnal burials, brazen disposals in broad daylight, of coffinless naked bodies slung two at a time into any open grave, brutal repression of demonstrators, clandestine meetings, official exhumations, investigations, mass rallies at the Patio 29...

    • Don Roberto Sanchez, first a worker, then a detainee, then a reinstated worker in the National Stadium of Chile, comes from Temuco. Born in about 1951, he recalls a strangely ambiguous relationship with his brutal stepmother. Once she floored him with a crack on the head with her shoe, then revived him in tears. Small, tough and nuggety, at 17 Roberto told her that he was off to seek his fortune, like so many young men for centuries before him, in Santiago. His stepmother cried and gave him a packet of money to look after himself. It was many years...

    • Londres 38 – the English equivalent would be ‘38 London Street’ – is the only chapter in which no single individual carries the narrative. The reason is that, whatever divisions existed amongst the survivors and families about the future of the building, by 2008 the dichotomy that had emerged was between the Bachelet-led centre-left coalition and the Allende-era radical left; and in particular, the remnants of the revolutionary party known as the MIR. The struggle to memorialise Londres 38 is a different kind of struggle to the others.

      Towards the end of 1973, the dictatorship government realised that the occupation...

    • In the district of Ñuñoa, 10 kilometres from the CBD of Santiago, stands a former House of Torture known by its street address ‘1367 José Domingo Cañas’.

      Our exploration of the memorialisation of this site turns, far more than any other, on the relationship between the only person known to have been tortured to death within its walls, and the maternal aunt of that victim. She was Lumi Videla Moya and her aunt, Dr Laura Moya Diaz. The museum and display located on the site of what was, before the coup, a substantial suburban house is very largely the product...

    • Jacqueline Paulette Drouilly Yurich lived with her family in Temuco, southern Chile, for much of her short life. Hers was a comfortable, middle-class family that followed a life of sensibility and poise. French as well as Spanish was spoken at home. Her father was a member of the Socialist Party, her mother rejoiced in graceful soirées.

      In 1971, in what was to prove a fatal act, Jacqueline joined the MIR in part through the encouragement of her boyfriend, later husband, Marcelo Salinas Eytel. Her younger sister believes that her heart was never quite in the cause. In 1973 she returned...

    • This chapter sets in opposition not so much two women, nor even their two different ideologies, but their two differing conceptions of how life should be lived. The two conceptions encompassed conflicts in housing, family values, politics, memory and, above all, in memorialisation: who should be remembered, and why, and where – and if at all. The ideological as well as physical conflict occurred in 5 hectares of what, in the early 1970s, had been a primary school, then an Air Force maintenance depot, then a base for the state security service, the CNI.

      Josefina Roxana González Rodriguez grew up...

  3. Part II
    • Following a pattern developed in Argentina, Chileans have developed a strategy for punishing Pinochetistas whom the state refuses to name, still less punish, but whose identity is well known. This public spectacle of formal denunciation is known as afuna.

      In preparation for each denunciation, the ‘Funa Commission of Chile’ posts on the web the chosen gathering point, though the exact destination or target is not divulged. The crowd, ranging from 50 to several hundred, assembles with placards, flags, a loudspeaker, video cameras and perhaps something for thefunistato stand on when the moment comes. The leader shouts: