As I was looking through articles and sites I came across two sources that caught my attention, both eyewitness accounts of life under Pinochet’s rule. The first one is the experience of the coup from an American that was working in a university in Chile, and the second one is an interview with Isabel Allende, a relative of former president Salvador Allende. I decided to use Isabel’s account because it demonstrates how people who were considered “enemies of the country” lived in fear, especially someone like her, who was directly connected with the opposition.
The title itself of the interview demonstrates the emotion that Isabel brings, “Life under Pinochet – Isabel Allende: ‘The day we buried our freedom’”. From the very get-go we see that it’s going to be packed with intensity. The interview can be found on a non-governmental organization website, amnesty.org that focuses on international human rights.
Many already have the conclusion of the brutality of Pinochet’s dictatorship, and though this isn’t an interview from someone who was directly physically tortured by the dictatorship, it nevertheless brings into light how it was to be under the detrimental receiving end. Isabel includes anecdotes about how the atmosphere was after the coup, how simple divisions of national politics turned from inconveniences to anxieties. How any rumor of being a sympathizer of Allende could result in detention and torture, amongst other things. And being the extended family of the targeted president, Isabel Allende reports that she had to be exceptionally fearful, an example that she mentions was a new friend she had made after the coup was in reality an undercover cop.
While those who agreed with the coup were delighted, Isabel explains that anyone that supported Allende’s government, if they had not been already captured, had to be very discreet, as she said, “Those who supported the dictatorship celebrated the death of Allende with champagne. They justified everything…”
I think it is important to note that Isabel Allende was a sympathizer of Salvador Allende however, and that meant that she probably did not discuss with Pinochet supporters her situation. Therefore, not only was she not able to defend herself from persecution, but perhaps not all supporters of Pinochet definitely agreed with the violence that followed from the coup.
In the project, as we explain the events that happened in Chile, it would be interesting to add pieces of Isabel Allende’s interview to the video, since it will provide insight of a person that experienced the conditions first hand. Especially with the amount of passion that she answers, it can be used to connect the audience to the material. Yet, it will be necessary to make sure that the emotional responses from Isabel Allende does not get in the way of an objective project.
I came across the full online book, The Cold War in the Classroom, edited by Barbara Christophe, Peter Gautschi, and Robert Thorp, which aims to study international textbooks and educational databases as places that introduce socio cultural issues and its opposing arguments. The readers are meant to to see how differing opinions are shaped out of a direct result of varying global and local perspectives.
I decided to use solely chapter 11, Dictatorship and the Cold War in Official Chilean History Textbooks, written by Claudia Castro and Teresa Oteiza. With regards to the overall purpose of the book, the authors analyse how Chilean textbooks address dictatorships in Latin America. However, I find this chapter to be particularly useful because Castro and Oteiza dive deep in explaining the roles of key figures in Chile and the process of events that pertained to the ‘golpe de Estado’. I also find this source to be unique because it takes factual biases from education sources, textbooks and what-not, and explains the polarizing values and moral judgements. The authors acknowledge the different views, but instead of necessarily agreeing with one, they address how it has affected Chile and its people. Not to say that the chapter is not opinionated, as it is a challenge to confirm anything to be completely unbiased, but nevertheless it seems to attempt to be objective as much as possible.
As a first step, I think this source would be helpful for all the group members to understand the basics of the reign of Terror that happened in Chile, from what led up to the removal of the social government to how the dictatorship was carried out for seventeen years. After having a concrete basis, looking at the differences and similarities of accounts of events that the source provides will ensure that we deliver a well informed presentation. I honestly hope that the chapter will help as an unbiased tool, reminding us of how Chile decides to remember the past. Castro and Oteiza write about the violent coup d’etat and dictatorship as how it has been seen by Chileans now, highlighting how the events that took place are negotiable in official textbooks.
(it slipped my mind to post this on the blog last week)