Friday, 13 September 2013

From Ross in Chile on 40th anniversary of the Allende murder & the quilt in Nairobi commemorating the events

My friend Ross is currently living in Chile and writes below with reference to the 40th anniversary of the murder of Allende and the rise to power of the American-backed Junta and, eventually, Pinochet.  In 1985, I was one of twenty women funded by the Australian government to attend the United Nations Women's Forum in Nairobi, Kenya which ran in conjunction with the Women's Conference.  The pictures below are of a quilt displayed at the Forum by women of Chile.  

I am not a great photographer but have learned a lot with digital technology.  I don't know what sort of camera I had when I was in Nairobi - probably some sort of instamatic!!!

The circular building with people in it represents the coliseum to which people were taken immediately after they were rounded up.  Many of these people were never seen nor were they heard from ever again.  Because of this, you can see the women with their placards depicted as they searched for their loved ones. 

Hi Friends, Septiembre en Chile is one of those interesting months where a lot of emotion flies about.

It kicks off with Sept 11. It seems the CIA likes this date for staging coups and other covert wars. It's the 40th anniversary since the military coup overthrew the democratically elected socialist leaning government of Allende who died in the coup. 40,000 people were rounded up disappeared and died.

Even though elections have returned emotions still run high although most of the population are now too young to have serious trauma from this. Still it is a day and night when gangs of youth go out to burn things and to disrupt power substations and loot shops. This has little to do with the coup and more to do with the general frustrations of youth for whom the privatised education system to expensive and the chance to find a decent paying job to be out of their reach. Educated teachers are very low paid and on contracts with no job security from year to year.
All this serves the corporate status quo very well.
September 11 is a day of mourning for those hopeful of a more equitable and compassionate society.

By contrast September 18, Independence marks a week of wild festivities and traditional music and costumes. Everyone dresses up and forgets about the harshness of life for a whole week. It marks a more positive expression of life without any threat to the power structure.
In many ways both the anger and the celebration reveal that Latinos are passionate about life in all its fullness. By contrast Anglo/British culture seems dull and boring to them, a life only half lived. Maybe we have traded passion for stability and conformity. We are afraid of passion lest it get out of control and cause harm in some way.
This month I try to understand the culture in a deeper way. The economic system here is much the same, but its too easy to assume that Latinos think the same way about things as I do. There are many cultural subtleties. Latinos don't always say what they think head on. There's a lot of hinting which is confusing for the Australian mind, which is so direct and in our view honest. But our honesty is often seen as rude and critical here. It requires wisdom and skill to adapt a virtue like honesty and not let that cause offence.
So I continue studying the culture and Spanish, and teaching the kids and of course they are teaching me all the time.


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