Chilean Palestinians Mark the 72nd Anniversary of the Nakba

SANTIAGO – May 15 is an important day for Chilean Palestinians as it marks the Nakba, or “the catastrophe,” after the 1948 declaration of the State of Israel in Palestine. Here, members of the community have launched initiatives to celebrate their heritage. As part of the observance, the 2017 film “Cuatro Colores” will be freely available online.

For many Palestinians the Nakba, commemorated on May 15, does not relate solely to the 1948 declaration of the State of Israel, but instead to the many decades of Zionist-led destabilization of Palestine that began in the 1880s. It was at this time that the first large scale movement of Palestinians began, with many relocating, for safety, to Chile. The largest flux of refugees occurred between 1947 and 1949, during the wars that led to the declaration of the State of Israel. Since then, there has been a steady flow of migration owing to worsening conditions in the occupied regions.

The Palestinian community in Chile remains strong, with many still holding keys as symbols of houses left as part of the Nakba. The remembrance of the Nakba is in essence a resistance to the Zionist movement. The hope is that by keeping the memory of the catastrophe and subsequent occupation alive it compels the Israeli state’s inability to completely colonize Palestine, as it seems they desire. By resisting attempts to erase Palestine, the hope is such that the right of return may one day be possible.

In normal times, the spirit of Palestinian culture is epitomized by Club Palestino and the associated sporting teams. At La Cisterna stadium in Santiago, the Palestinian flag hangs proudly in the presence of football matches, but during the pandemic it has of course been all too quiet. Instead, cultural activities to remember the Nakba and resist colonization have taken place online. Organizations such as the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement have held global online concerts and talks.

In Chile, the filmmakers Artefacto Visual have made their 2017 documentary “Cuatro Colores” freely available for viewing until Monday on the streaming platform Vimeo. The documentary (with subtitles in Arabic and/or English) was filmed over four years in Chile and Palestine and intertwines the history of Palestine and the Chilean football team with the tragedy that occurred during the occupation. It is recommended viewing for those interested in the link between Chile and Palestine or interested in the history of the football team Palestino or the history of Palestine.

Chile Today spoke with the producer and screenwriter of “Cuatro Colores,” Mario Cuche, to understand the motivation for making the film. “The initial concept for the film came from longtime Palestino fan, Carlos Medina. He came to our production company and taught us about how Palestino matches are shown live in Palestine. We hadn’t thought of this, we found it crazy to think that 13,000 km away in Palestine people are watching this Chilean team’s campaigns. We found this amazing, we just thought that someone has to tell this story.”

Mario tells us that the reception of the film has been fantastic globally, winning several awards at film festivals. However, in Chile, there was somewhat less support from film festivals and cinemas, with most screenings occurring at universities.  The importance of the football club as a center for the Palestinian community is clear and it is important that those associated with the club continue to carry out activities to support the Palestinian cause as they have done for several years.

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