The National Monuments Council has approved adding seven memory sites related to the dictatorship to the list of national historic monuments. They include prisons and police stations used for torture and repression. The decision is part of commemorating the 1973 military coup.
Chile’s National Monuments Council approved seven requests by civil society organizations to declare memory sites from the Pinochet era as national historic monuments, implying legal protection by the state.
The locations are the former Arica prison (Arica y Parinacota Region), the base of the 23rd Copiapó infantry regiment (Atacama), the Puente El Ala memorial (Ñuble), the compound of the national information center in Talca (Maule), a mass grave near La Serena, the Pisagua prison camp (Tarapacá), and Ancud police station (Los Lagos).
The sites were used as torture centers and clandestine prisons between 1973 and 1990.
In a statement, Culture Minister Jaime de Aguirre said, “these declarations demonstrate the government’s commitment to historical memory. They represent an act of reparation and justice for the people who passed through those enclosures, and in general, for the victims of the dictatorship.”
The sites in Arica y Parinacota, Atacama and Ñuble are part of government plans to have at least one memory site in each of Chile’s 16 regions, as commemorating the 50th anniversary of the coup is underway.
In March, the government published the official version of the coup. In it, President Gabriel Boric wrote that “even though the forces that put an end to democracy on September 11, 1973, now seem distant, we observe a daily disruption by new trends that threaten that same democracy. This commemoration is therefore also an occasion to reflect on the risks and threats that our democracy suffers today, and to renew our absolute commitment to it.”
Alluding to threats to democracy, daily La Tercera quoted the coordinator of the memory site network, Marcelo Acevedo, as saying that “we are convinced that the memory sites are one of the axes for the guarantees of non-repetition, and, therefore, they must be strengthened from Arica to Punta Arenas … [We] celebrate this milestone and commitment.”
Matthijs is a newly graduated journalism student from Groningen, the Netherlands. As a starting journalist and aspiring foreign correspondent, he decided to extend his 6-month university exchange in Chile to do an internship at Chile Today. He enjoys writing about a broad range of topics, but international relations, politics and conflicts are his key interests.