It is difficult to express what this 50 year anniversary means to me. The story begins before the military coup. It goes back to the Popular government when we were all smiling and happy. Yes, we argued like crazy, but the discussions came from the heart, guided only by the idea of wanting things to happen faster and better for our people.

Who didn’t help people hit by the cruel winter get out of the shanty towns, teach people to read, defend the distribution of food through the family baskets to make sure people had what they needed.

Who didn’t live in shanty towns, walk through the countryside, hills, mountains and sea motivating the young and old, explaining our plans, singing around the bonfires that were made in every place where the night would catch us.

Yes, with miniskirts, jeans, beards, smiling, we loved, made babies and built, although for a short time, a better world. I am not versed in writing or poetry, nor am I very intellectual. Political analyses are too big for me. I believe that my story is no different from that of many who have walked my path, only that some have stumbled over bigger stones.

Life throws us surprises, and what a massive surprise we had!

I was never clairvoyant like some people, I never imagined how horrible everything was going to be with the military dictatorship. Yes, a rap on the head, may a few days in prison, exile, but what came…the lowest of human expression, the army and those who thought they were characters in a spy movies, with the cynicism of defending a paper democracy, brutally destroyed the lives of all those who wanted a better world. Many have analysed and continue analysing why and how what happened, what could have been done better to avoid the coup of 11 September 1973, what was done wrong.

I just feel analyses have not protected me from rage and pain. Pain of the losses, of the injustice that does not end, of the betrayal we suffered and the losses we had – and we continue to have. And Lady Justice flirts with us but does not deliver what she promises.

I know the good ones from the bad ones when I see them, like in the old films, and I have tried to live these 50 years next to the  good ones. But now things are more complicated, the good ones have turned out to be not so good and the bad ones have turned out to be rotten!

Yes, in my shared history I had to become a gypsy, looking for place to stay every night, carrying children and friends with me, I’ve been unemployment, not had anything to eat, have had to count the spoonfuls of sugar I could put in my tea every day. And then I took a trip to a country that looked very attractive on posters, postcards, and films. I thought I was coming for a short time – to recover, to heal wounds, to be able to sleep without fear, to not have to wait up listening out for familiar footsteps coming home safe and sound after clandestine meetings – and then to go back. Ha! Here we are, the family with roots in a country that theoretically and legally is theirs but emotionally it will be generations before they feel the sense of belonging on their skin. On  the journey some roots were unexpectedly severed.

Yes life throws surprises our way.

As soon as I arrived in the UK I noticed that the poor, even though they wore shoes, trainers or heels, had the same facial expression. And I sought out the side of the good, the exploited, the homeless, those who crossed seas and walked for miles trying to survive wars they didn’t start, famine they didn’t cause and protection they didn’t have back home.

There were moments of progress.

Who did not rejoice at the arrest of Pinochet in London? That was a big surprise for him and his followers who thought he was untouchable! 
Who did not cry out for justice on the picket line.
Who did not participate in the campaign for the extradition of the murderer to Spain.
Who did not cry listening to the testimonies of the torture of the survivor.
The crimes that the military tried to hide came to light and many young people knew the true history of the dictatorship, the true history of the military coup. But they defeated us. They rescued the dictator. But we put up a fight!

I believe or hope that I will die with my boots on, next to the good ones, who take to the streets to protest to protect the world, next to those who stubbornly are not letting history be erased. The torture, disappearance, displacement and forced exile that Chile suffered must not be erased.

I don’t think we are heroes, but we were protagonists of a story that we cannot let slip into the manipulative shadow of the media, weak governments and those who seek to control how that story is told.

We have to tell our story.

We are proud of that history and the legacy we are leaving behind.

We are proud that we have not abandoned the search for our victims, and above all we are proud to demand justice and punishment for the culprits who thought they were the masters of life itself.

Let’s protect our history, stitch by stitch, remember our victims and plant tree after tree for each of those who disappeared or were executed.

We will never stop telling our story.

The pain and the search for justice unites us, but more importantly we know that we are on the side of the good guys even if sometimes that good guys give us sad surprises and their actions and choices leave us with a bitter taste of defeat. We must move forward, or these 50 years have been wasted. We are sure that the good guys always win. Even when life throws us surprises, we must move forward!

Categories: Our Stories


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