Thursday, July 14, 2016

Museum Of Memory And Human Rights (The Pinochet Dictatorship) - Santiago Chile

We had never heard of Augusto Pinochet and his dictatorship until we started looking into going to Chile.  We wanted to learn more while there so we made or way to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights which is dedicated to those who were tortured and/or killed under Pinochet's reign.

But in order to get to the museum we had to pass a few things of note along the way.

I could look at those snow covered mountains everyday and never get tired of them!  They can be seen from just about anywhere in the city.

Andes Mountains Seen from Museum of Memory and Human Rights Santiago Chile

If the mountains don't do anything for you, maybe some sun streaks, a fountain, and a mural are more to your liking.

Fountain and Mural at Quinta Normal Park Santiago Chile

And we have arrived.

Museum of Memory and Human Rights Santiago Chile

The museum was very informative and had audio guides in English, thankfully because we don't speak Spanish. Here is some of what we learned.

Salvador Allende became president of Chile in 1970.  He was the first communist president to ever be elected by a democracy.  Apparently, Allende and his Marxist ideas scared the American government and they did everything in their power to oust him.

I still a little foggy on why this bothered the American government.  It is outside my realm of knowledge and even though I have read articles trying to understand, it still is not clicking.

Despite my lack of knowledge, the fact still remains that Chile started having problems because of actions by the American government.  They withdrew aid from Chile and trade was limited or refused among other things.  The economy tanked.  Chileans workers began strikes.

It all came bashing together on September 11, 1973, when an American-backed coup lead by Augusto Pinochet took place.  President Allende committed suicide in the presidential palace as opposed to surrendering and the seventeen year military reign of terror under Pinochet began.

Anyone who was against Pinochet was either murdered or captured and tortured. Another term they used was "forced disappearance".  I am sure they never reappeared! Families were torn apart and forever broken because of this man.

The museum described several of the torture methods used and it was horrifying to hear!  I will not go into the details because they were pretty disturbing. There are plenty of people still alive who lived through the torture and they have told their stories through different outlets.  A movie has even been made called Colonia (The Colony).

It wasn't like the world didn't know this was happening (except for us apparently, but in our defense we were just kids at the time!)  There were protests around the world and even in Chile against Pinochet and his regime. This shows some of the posters used during the protest.

Posters of Protest Against Pinochet Museum of Memory and Human Rights Santiago Chile

In 1983 Chileans decided enough was enough and they really started to protest. Finally, in 1988 Pinochet allowed there to be a vote to determine if he would continue to be president or not. 

Pinochet lost with 55% of the people wanting him out.  I can't wrap my head around the fact that only 55% said he should go!  I just don't understand.  

It still took until 1990 for Pinochet to step down but he still kept the position of head of the army up until 1997!!  AND then after that he became a senator for life!!!  He actually step down from the position in 2002 due to health issues.  These health issues kept him from going to trial in hundreds of cases filed against him.  

Legal actions were getting closer and closer to him but in 2006 he passed away at age 91 in Santiago before anything could happen.  Not everyone was so lucky though.  Just recently the former army commander was arrested for his contributions to deaths during that time.

One last picture as a memorial to those that lost their lives.  It is believed that anywhere from 1,200 to 3,200 people were murdered, up to 80,000 people were sent away, and up to 30,000 tortured.  The Chilean government's official count of deaths and forced disappearances is 3,095.

This is in memory of them all, no matter the count.

Photos of Missing or Killed Under Pinochet at Museum of Memory and Human Rights Santiago Chile

It was really an eye-opening museum.  I am glad we had the opportunity to visit.

I know this wasn't a bright happy post, but history does go dark at times and we still need to see it.  But, I promise my next post will be much lighter when I share with you our trip to a lovely outdoor sculpture park and the six-story mall that is housed in the tallest building in all of Latin America!

Until then!


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