Memories of Chile’s Coup d’État

SANTIAGO – On the 46th anniversary of the 1973 Chilean coup d’état, the Museum of Memory and Human Rights staged a daylong memorial. Not everyone is able to visit the memorial, so for the second year in a row the memorial was also brought to them. Using both live performances and live streams, the memorial let people experience the coup in real-time.

Forty-six years after the Chilean coup d’état, in an interview with TVN’s 24 Horas, Director of the Museum of Memory and Human Rights Francisco Estévez encourages people to ask themselves, “How do we preserve democracy? How do we always defend human rights?”

All day, on its website and Facebook page, the museum broadcast a live stream of a radio transmission of the events of the coup as they happened in real-time on Sept. 11, 1973. 

Named “Tuned into Memory” and developed by the museum alongside Wolf BCPP, the broadcast encourages people to listen as if they were present during the coup, receiving updates from the radio, the way most Chileans would have received the news of the actual coup.

Through this combination of technology and history, the coup is brought to life in a way that connects those too young to have lived it. The title of the radio transmission also emphasizes the political significance of the event: they are not just tuning into the memories of the people who saw and heard what happened first-hand, but also the political climate of the country. 

Watch here last years video report from ChileTodayNews:

A Visit to the Museum

Those able to attend the museum experienced a live commemoration. Faces of the disappeared lined the entrance to the building, the date of their detention written underneath to serve as a visual reminder of those who were lost. People can sit and listen to the radio transmission in the outside amphitheater but also watch a variety of performances.

In one of the performances, 12 women danced to the music being played over the radio. The women incorporated chairs into their performance and communicated the struggle and isolation of the people of the time through strained and desperate movements. The women sat in pairs, either facing each other or back-to-back, and tried to reach out to each other until the performance ended with all the women slumped over, heads bowed low. This impactful performance demonstrates that a person does not need to live through an event to channel its emotional significance: the dancers portrayed a personal struggle that went beyond a simple understanding of the great scale of the coup.

Young students also sold handmade cloth prints, hung from a clothesline, the word “coup” emblazoned on the front in big red unapologetic lettering. Students kept making more prints using a large manual screen printing process. 

The involvement of so many young people demonstrates the resolve that this day will not be forgotten.


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