‘Never Again': Chileans Look Back on Coup, 40 Years On

Bombing of La Moneda, September 11, 1973. Image from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license CC BY 3.0 CL

Bombing of La Moneda on September 11, 1973. Image from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license CC BY 3.0 CL

Forty years ago today, Chilean socialist President Salvador Allende was overthrown in a coup d’état which marked the beginning of a 17 year-long military dictatorship led by Augusto Pinochet.

After 40 years since the coup and 23 since the country's return to democracy, Chileans reflected on the coup and on what the country must do to reach reconciliation.

Blogger Camila analyzed the anniversary media coverage on September 11, 2013 and on “moving forward” as a society:

¿Como vamos a olvidar y dar vuelta la página, si cada año los medios de comunicación nos bombardean con información negativa? Acepto que hay que avanzar, acepto que la violencia de nada sirve, acepto que lo sucedido fue culpa de ambos sectores políticos por diferentes factores conjugados, pero NO acepto los comentarios irrespetuosos y sin análisis del corte de “Olviden el tema y punto”. Hay muchos factores en juego. Un poco de respeto por las víctimas de el genocidio que vivimos hace años atrás. Podremos recién avanzar y olvidar cuando seamos una sociedad unida de verdad que busque develar la verdad y prestar un hombro a aquellos que hoy sufren por el vacío que ha dejado la partida de uno de sus seres queridos, pero mientras sigamos estando en esos polos de “Sin perdón ni olvido” y “Olviden luego” sin prestarnos ayuda seguiremos siendo unasociedad dividida y estancada.

How are we going to forget and turn the page, if every year the media bombards us with negative information? I agree that we must move forward, I agree that violence is useless, I agree that what happened was the fault of both political sectors due to different factors, but I do NOT accept the disrespectful comments made without analysis, the “Forget it, period” kind. There are many factors at play. A little respect for the victims of the genocide that we lived years ago. We will only be able to move forward and forget when we're a truly united society that seeks to uncover the truth and provide a shoulder to those who now suffer from the void left by the departure of one of their loved ones, but as long as we remain in these extremes of “without forgiving nor forgetting” and “forget already” without helping each other we will remain a divided and stagnant society.

On Twitter, Camila G Arriagada agreed that the country should work towards unity:

I agree with the phrase “neither forgiving nor forgetting”, but I do think that 40 years later we must work towards unity in the country

But Teresa Quirino wrote that justice must come before reconciliation:

There will never be reconciliation if these is no justice! It has already been 40 years and there are still people who haven't paid for their crimes from September 11

Meanwhile, PelaoAndrew tweeted that what happened before the coup must also be taken into account:

To talk about history it's not enough to know only what happened 40 years ago…you also have to see what happened a little before

And some supporters of Augusto Pinochet, like Felipe Abalos, shared a different perspective:

40 years ago today freedom triumphed over hate and class struggle. I just want to say thank you President Pinochet.

User @May_Grondona, like many others, called on fellow Chileans to make sure that something like the coup on September 11, 1973 doesn't happen again:

40 years later we are called to give future generations memories and not grudges, so that something so horrendous doesn't happen again.

On El Mundo Sigue Ahí (The Word is Still There), blogger Roberto Arancibia [es] reflected on the coup, which he experienced as a 17-year-old student, and on this 40th anniversary. He wrote:

Los medios nos inundan de resúmenes y programas especiales, los protagonistas de la historia entregan sus declaraciones, reconocimientos y verdades a medias. Algunos piden perdón. Algunos lo celebran, otros lo lamentan. Otros sólo “conmemoran”. Y los que quedamos, los que vivimos todo esto, de este lado y del otro, somos los testigos de un período difícil, somos un par de generaciones marcadas por la fecha, por la figura del General y todo su entorno. Generación X. Con 13 años de toque de queda metidos en el cuerpo, en la adolescencia, en la adultez. Y entremedio gente que desaparecía, profesores, amigos o parientes.

The media has flooded us with summaries and special programs, the protagonists of history make their statements, their acknowledgements and half truths. Some ask for forgiveness. Some celebrate, others mourn. Other just “commemorate”. And those of us who are left, those who lived through it all, from this side and the other, are witnesses of a difficult time, we are a couple of generations marked by a date, by the image of the General and everything around him. Generation X. With 13 years of curfews on our body, during our adolescence, during our adulthood. And in the meantime people disappearing, professors, friends or family.

Arancibia concluded:

Pero somos sobrevivientes, lo que no es poco. Y nadie, de verdad, nadie salió ileso.

Dejar los rencores, enseñar a respetar, tratar de entender el dolor y dar un abrazo a quien lo necesite. Sobre todo dejar de negarlo. No permitir que suceda de nuevo.

¿Será ese el camino? ¿Quién necesita venganzas? ¿Podremos superarlo?
Sobre todo, nunca más.

But we are survivors, which is not a minor thing. And no one, honestly, no one came out unhurt.

Leaving behind grudges, teaching respect, trying to understand pain and lending a hand to those who need it. Above all stopping denying it. Not allowing it to happen again.

Is that the way? Who needs revenge? Can we overcome it? Above all, never again.


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