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    South by South America Tour – Chile Part 5

    Sunday, August 25, 2019
    Santiago, Chile

    A fanciful building in Yungay, Santiago, Chile.
    A fanciful building in Yungay, Santiago, Chile.

    The first display one encounters at the Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanas in Yungay, Santiago, Chile.
    The first display one encounters at the Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanas in Yungay, Santiago, Chile.

    In mid-afternoon, I hopped on the subway and rode it three stops west to the Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanas, which memorializes the human rights violations of Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship that ruled Chile from 1973-1990. As soon as I stepped up out of the subway stairs, boom!, there it was: a huge, hulking green rectangle laying on its side. Inside, the place boasted three whole floors chock-full of buttery displays emblazoned with bold, modern graphic and photographic elements printed on glass panels.

    A collection of posters protesting Augusto Pinochet's 1973-1990 military dictatorship in Chile at the Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanas in Yungay, Santiago, Chile.
    A collection of posters protesting Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990 military dictatorship in Chile at the Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanas in Yungay, Santiago, Chile.

    A collection of photos taken during Augusto Pinochet's 1973-1990 military dictatorship in Chile at the Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanas in Yungay, Santiago, Chile.
    A collection of photos taken during Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990 military dictatorship in Chile at the Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanas in Yungay, Santiago, Chile.

    Numerous display cases contained vintage newspapers and magazines covering the event, as well as the clothing, handwritten letters, children’s toys and other memorabilia from the prisoners. Various screens and kiosks scattered throughout the museum also looped video of news coverage of the event from the time period. The centerpiece was a gigantic mural comprised of framed photos of people who were murdered by the junta on a wall that vertically spanned all three floors. It was hard to hold back tears when confronted by such a moving display. If you ever visit Santiago, Chile, the Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanas is a must-see.

    A collection of children's toys from the time of Augusto Pinochet's 1973-1990 military dictatorship in Chile at the Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanas in Yungay, Santiago, Chile.
    A collection of children’s toys from the time of Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990 military dictatorship in Chile at the Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanas in Yungay, Santiago, Chile.

    A large mural depicting the actions of Augusto Pinochet's 1973-1990 military dictatorship in Chile at the Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanas in Yungay, Santiago, Chile.
    A large mural depicting the actions of Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990 military dictatorship in Chile at the Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanas in Yungay, Santiago, Chile.

    “The military dictatorship of Chile was an authoritarian military regime that ruled Chile for 17 years, between September 11, 1973 and March 11, 1990. The dictatorship was established after the democratically-elected socialist government of Salvador Allende was overthrown in a coup d’état on September 11, 1973. During this time, the country was ruled by a military junta headed by General Augusto Pinochet. The military used the alleged breakdown of democracy and the economic crisis that took place during Salvador Allende’s presidency to justify its seizure of power.

    A magazine announcing the rise of Augusto Pinochet's 1973-1990 military dictatorship in Chile at the Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanas in Yungay, Santiago, Chile.
    A magazine announcing the rise of Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990 military dictatorship in Chile at the Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanas in Yungay, Santiago, Chile.

    Another vibrant mural in Yungay, Santiago, Chile.
    Another vibrant mural in Yungay, Santiago, Chile.

    “The dictatorship presented its mission as a ‘national reconstruction.’ The coup was the result of multiple forces, including pressure from conservative and women’s groups, certain political parties, union strikes and other domestic unrest, as well as international factors. According to an article written by lifelong CIA operative Jack Devine, although it was widely reported that the CIA was directly involved in orchestrating and carrying out the coup, subsequently released sources suggest a much reduced role of the US government.

    A street performer practices his craft at the Plaza de Armas in Santiago, Chile.
    A street performer practices his craft at the Plaza de Armas in Santiago, Chile.

    Pole position with rainbow in Santiago, Chile.
    Pole position with rainbow in Santiago, Chile.

    “The regime was characterized by the systematic suppression of political parties and the persecution of dissidents to an extent unprecedented in the history of Chile. Overall, the regime left over 3,000 dead or missing, tortured tens of thousands of prisoners, and drove an estimated 200,000 Chileans into exile. The dictatorship’s effects on Chilean political and economic life continue to be felt. Two years after the regime’s ascension, radical neoliberal economic reforms were implemented, in sharp contrast to Allende’s leftist policies, advised by a team of free-market economists educated in US universities known as the Chicago Boys. Later, in 1980, the regime replaced the Chilean Constitution of 1925 with a new constitution. This established a series of provisions that would eventually lead to the 1988 Chilean national plebiscite on October 5 of that year.

    Photogenic buildings at the intersection of Avenidas Bandera and Moneda in Santiago, Chile.
    Photogenic buildings at the intersection of Avenidas Bandera and Moneda in Santiago, Chile.

    The Basilica de la Merced in Santiago, Chile.
    The Basilica de la Merced in Santiago, Chile.

    “In that referendum, the Chilean people denied Pinochet a new mandate, opening the way for the re-establishment of democracy in 1990. Consequently, democratic presidential elections were held the following year. The military dictatorship ended in 1990 with the election of Christian-Democrat candidate Patricio Aylwin. However, the military remained out of civilian control for several years after the junta itself had lost power.”—Wikipedia. Stepping up out of the subway station back at the Plaza de Armas, I was stunned to see a street performer dressed up like a Buddhist monk who was covered head to toe in gold paint, sitting and striking various poses while loud, dark, dissonant drones blasted from a speaker under his seat. After that eye and ear full, I ended the day with a stroll down Avenida Bandera, the whole length and width of which is completely covered in colorfully painted geometric shapes.

    Words and photos ©2019 Arcane Candy.

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