With a few days until the fortieth anniversary of the coup d'etat that put an end to the government of Salvador Allende, there are many media outlets which, using collective memory and unpublished archive footage, attempt to remind and instruct new generations about the human rights violations that occurred during the military government of Augusto Pinochet through reports and documentaries. These have not been free from controversy.
Already in its debut, the program “Chile, The Prohibited Images” [es] (“Chile, las imágenes prohibidas” in Spanish), broadcast by the television station Chilevisión, showed through high audience numbers that many Chileans are interested in revisiting and understanding what occurred between the September 11, 1973 coup and the plebiscite that returned Chile to democracy in the end of the 1980s. However, the opinions generated by the audience have been varied, as much in favor as opposed.
Without going farther than the the broadcast of the first two episodes on August 14 and 21, the program received more than 100 complaints before the National Television Counsel (CNTV) [es], the institution in charge of “ensuring the proper functioning of the Chilean television through institutional policies that tend to guide, encourage and regulate the activity of the actors involved in television” [es].
The complaints against the program stated that it generated “hatred and division in the country,” because it delivers, according to 40 of the claims, “a biased view of history” [es]. This argument was ultimately dismissed given the liberty of expression to which every citizen is entitled.
This idea was discussed in the blog El huevo revuelto [es] (The Scrambled Egg) on August 29, when columnist Marcel Castro (@marcelocastrob) [es], taking the flag of the opponents of the program, referred to the complaints before the CNTV:
Pero no todo es color de rosa, o más bien rojo, para ellos, ya que acumulan más de 80 denuncias en el Consejo Nacional de Televisión, sólo el capitulo del 14 de agosto tuvo 62 reclamos, 40 de ellos por que “el programa presenta una visión sesgada de la historia”, cosa que es verdad, ya que muestra lo que le conviene a los bolcheviques, y otros 22 denuncios por “provocar odiosidades y división en el país”. Estas ultimas siguen vigentes ya que las otras 40 fueron desechadas debido a la libertad que tienen los realizadores de mostrar lo que a ellos se les plazca.
But not everything is rose-colored, or red, for them who have already accumulated more than 80 complaints before the National Television Counsel. Just one episode on August 14 had 62 complaints, 40 of them because “the program presents a biased view of history,” something that is true because it shows what suits the Bolsheviks, and another 22 complaints for “provoking hatred and division in the country.” These last remain valid even though the other 40 were dismissed due to the film makers’ freedom to show what they want to.
Reaffirming the biased-view argument, Natalia Ramos Briones (@nataliaramosb) [es] commented on her Twitter account that this is the result of confusion between the view of the writer and journalistic thoroughness:
No confundir mirada de autor con rigurosidad periodística. De lo contrario es una mirada incompleta, sesgada, ignorante #imagenesprohibidas
— Natalia RamosBriones (@nataliaramosb) September 8, 2013
Don't confuse the view of the writer with journalistic thoroughness. On the contrary it is an incomplete, biased and ignorant view.
Going along with the view against the television program and alluding to the program's name (“Chile, The Prohibited Images”), various Twitter-users published images that the Chilevisión program had not shown and that, in their opinion, were part of the “other side of the coin.” [“La moneda” refers to both a coin and the Presidential palace in Chile].
Lino González A (@LlinoGozalez) [es] shared through his Twitter account an image shown in the program “The 1000 days” [es] (a program with a similar theme broadcast by Channel 13). The photograph shows opponents of Salvador Allende who protested the scarcity of food and the economic inequality under his government (1970-1973).
— Llino González Q. (@LlinoGonzalez) August 26, 2013
“ENOUGH Mr. Allende.” The prohibited images that are not shown on the other channel
In a similar way, the image of two Chilean Carabineros [police officers], in which one checks the vital signs of the other who was injured during protests, was tweeted by the accounts @SeptiembreOnce [es] and Don Corleone (@Don_Corleone_) [es]:
foto q jamas aparecera en imagenes prohibidas xq no les conviene mostrar la verdad absoluta sino lo q quieren nomas pic.twitter.com/BeZ4ymcS3S
— La 11 de Septiembre (@SeptiembreOnce) August 23, 2013
Photo that will never appear in Prohibited Images because it isn't convenient to show the whole truth but rather just what they want to show
— Don Corleone (@Don_Corleone_) August 25, 2013
THIS PHOTO WILL NEVER BE SEEN IN “CHILE PROHIBITED IMAGES” from @Chilevision
On the other hand, addressing the root of the complaints from opponents of the program, the journalist Federico Zurita Hecht published in his blog [es] and in the Revista Intemperie [es] an article titled “Five false reasons to censor ‘Chile, The Prohibited Images’,” [es] among which the following stand out:
Primero El mencionado argumento de “la otra cara de la moneda” estaría sugiriendo que tanto las imágenes de represión en las poblaciones, en los funerales de las víctimas y en la visita del Papa, como los testimonios sobre la muerte de funcionarios de la Vicaría y sobre el incidente que terminó con Carmen Gloria Quintana y Rodrigo Rojas envueltos en llamas, corresponden a mentiras, porque habría otra supuesta versión (que incluso se sostendría en algo que ocurrió antes de 1973) que demostraría que esas medidas violentas fueron más bien una acción justiciera.
Segundo La idea de “la otra versión” sugiere que las seis mil personas asesinadas por los aparatos de inteligencia de la dictadura habrían formado parte de un plan tenebroso para devolver al país a la “dictadura marxista”. Esta idea que está implícita en la crítica al programa del que aquí hablo tampoco tendría sustento, porque la elite de la eventual “dictadura del proletariado” no podría haber sido tan grande (si ni siquiera hoy la elite empresarial que estrangula al resto del país, es tan grande), y porque finalmente muchas de esas seis mil personas no tenían vínculos con las estructuras de poder.
Primero The argument mentioned as the “other side of the coin” would suggest that in the images of repression of the population, the funerals of the victims and the Papal visit, as much as in the testimonies about the death of Vicarage officials and about the incident that ended with Carmen Gloria Quintana and Rodrigo Rojas in flames, correspond to lies because another alleged version (that includes something that happened before 1973) demonstrates that these violent methods were more a justified action.
Second The idea of the “other version” suggests that the 6 million people killed by the dictatorship's intelligence forces were part of a dark plan to return the country to the “Marxist dictatorship.” This idea that is implicit in the criticism of the program I do not discuss or support here, because the elite of the eventual “dictatorship of the proletariat” could not have been that big (nor is today the business elite that strangles the rest of the county that big), and finally because many of these six million people had no connection to the power structures.
The article continues:
Tercero Las palabras “la otra cara de la moneda” nos informan que se da por aceptada la idea caricaturesca que instituciones estadounidenses formularon sobre el marxismo y que difundieron ampliamente en Latinoamérica. De esta forma, Chile, las imágenes prohibidas intentaría ocultar esa otra cara en la que los marxistas se presentan como seres despiadados en su esencia.
Cuarto Cada vez que alguien reclama que se debe contar “la otra versión de los hechos”, además de abandonar la discusión original y suponer ridículamente que hay un plan maestro formulado por un movimiento marxista caricaturesco, propone que las formas de pensamiento de izquierda son homogéneas y que todos quienes adhieren a estas creencias quieren replicar lo hecho por Stalin en la URSS.
Third The words “the other side of the coin” [or presidential palace] inform us that the ridiculous idea that U.S. institutions formed around Marxism and spread amply around Latin America has been accepted. In this way, Chile, The Prohibited Images would attempt to hide this other side of the Marxists presenting themselves as essentially ruthless beings.
Fourth Each time that someone claims to tell “the other version of the facts,” more than abandon the original discussion and ridiculously suppose that there is a master plan formulated by a ridiculous Marxist movement, they propose the leftist way of thinking is homogeneous and that everyone who adheres to these beliefs want to replicate what was done by Stalin in the USSR.
Reactions on the part of those in favor of the program after the announcement of the complaints before the CNTV counsel soon became apparent. This was expressed by Marcelo Gomez (@MarceloGomezG) [es], who said the the complaints seemed to make little sense and then made a simile with another dictatorship:
Denunciar a CHV por #ImágenesProhibidas es como si alguien denunciara a NatGeo por los reportajes sobre Hitler y la Segunda Guerra Mundial.
— Marcelo (@MarceloGomezG) August 23, 2013
To denounce CHV for #ImágenesProhibidas is like denouncing National Geographic for its reports about Hitler and WWII.
The Twitter account Difamadores (@Difamadores) [es], which describes itself as a space for “humor, politics and critical journalism focused on society,” did not let the situation pass and related the authors of the complaints to supporters of right-leaning politics:
Fachos denuncian q se muestran las imágenes prohibidas de la dictadura y no a los q los protagonizaron… Sacosdewea. http://t.co/CYPEahjnyr
— Difamadores (@difamadores) August 25, 2013
Fascists denounce the showing of the prohibited images from the dictatorship and not from those who started it… Sacosdewea.
In the opinion of Don Jorgetaker (@Jorgetaker) [es], those who make the denunciations against the television program are adherents to Pinochet:
Todavía quedan calcetineras del viejo Pinocho –> “Imágenes Prohibidas” de Chilevisión acumula 83 denuncias en CNTV http://t.co/A3F308vvlR
— Don Jorgetaker (@Jorgetaker) August 23, 2013
There are still fans of old Pinochet –> “Prohibited Images” on Chilevisión accumulates 83 complaints in CNTV http://t.co/A3F308vvlR
Andrea Zamora (@negracuriche) [es] signaled he feels ashamed about the number of complaints against the program:
— Andrea Zamora (@negracuriche) August 23, 2013
For Cecilia C.B. (@ceciliacarolina) [es], the meaning of the complaints is a lack of acceptance or a distaste for the historical truth:
“Imágenes Prohibidas” de Chilevisión acumula 83 denuncias en el CNTV http://t.co/mbRIEkNKkW /Increible,hay gente q no le gusta la verdad
— Cecilia C.B. (@ceciliacarolina) August 23, 2013
“Prohibited Images” on Chilevisión accumulated 83 complaings in CNTV http://t.co/mbRIEkNKkW /Incredible, there are people that do not like the truth.
Right or wrong, the complaints against the program suggest that Chile is still divided by an event that marked its history 40 years ago and continues dividing society today. Recognition? Historical memory? Reconciliation? Chilean society is anxious to heal its wounds.
The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it.