Today marks the 50th anniversary of the military coup d’état in Chile. One of the most atrocious acts of the Pinochet dictatorship will have been sexual crime. This is how Chilean women remember and commemorate him today in La Moneda.
“I’m excited, I came on the subway with a lump in my throat: imagine! All this full of women with candles,” one of the thousands of protesters who surrounded the outside of the center told her companion. La Moneda palace on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Augusto Pinochet’s coup d’état.
Dressed in black, with a candle, in silence and with a white sign hanging that said “Never again,” the participants formed a line that extended along the Alameda, the capital’s main avenue, and advanced towards the around the presidential building until the surrounding plaza was completely filled.
“The women of Chile, once again, as always, teaching us all a lesson. Never again,” the Chilean president, Gabriel Boric, the first president born after the military rebellion, celebrated at the end of the event on his networks.
Miriam Astudillo, 69, arrived with her daughter and sister-in-law at the meeting point: “Every September 11 we remember everything we suffered and that we experienced firsthand with a 20-year-old brother who was detained and tortured for a full month. That’s hard to forget,” she told EFE while waiting in line.
Today’s call, launched by several women’s and human rights groups that were grouped together under the Women x Never Again platform, was the first act of memory of a massive September 11th exclusively for women.
“It is very symbolic to invite women to participate massively during these dates and this has been the great act that has been done outside of March 8 or relevant days for women,” Paula Ortega, 26, who attended with her fellow activists from the 8M Coordinator from the town of Melipilla, a rural area of the metropolitan area, told EFE.
“When women mobilize it is incredible”
While the women slowly paraded to their positions, the organization was responsible for remembering that the walk should be done “in silence and in remembrance of the dead, missing and tortured women.”
The coup began a cruel 17-year dictatorship that left more than 40,000 victims, including at least 3,200 murdered opponents.
“It is a symbolic way of saying that we are here, facing this horrible moment that I wish had never happened in Chile,” commented Rosana Vicentelo, another participant who turns 60 today.
Today’s event exceeded all expectations, both of the organizers and the participants. An hour and a half after the start of the activity, there were still women lining up to stand somewhere on the scene.
“I never thought so many people would have arrived, when women mobilize it is incredible; We want to do something and we achieve it,” added Vicentelo.
Since 2018, when the so-called Feminist Spring took place in Chile, with massive protests and takeovers of universities to protest against abuse in educational centers, the movement for women’s rights has grown and women usually respond en masse to the main calls, like the last March 8.
However, despite the large influx, the South American country arrives divided at the commemoration of September 11.
The traditional right, grouped in the Chile Vamos coalition, announced this week that it will be absent from official events on Monday, which will be attended by several presidents from the region. They also did not agree to sign a joint declaration for democracy and human rights.
Days before, in Parliament, a representative described the sexual violence suffered by thousands of detainees during the dictatorship as an “urban legend.” According to figures updated by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, 3,399 women declared having been victims of torture between 1973 and 1990, and almost all of them were subjected to sexual violence.
Yesterday’s march culminated with the reading of a manifesto by the Never Again, with phrases and ideas associated with the protection of historical memory, democracy and peace: “Never again the end of memory. Never more brothers betrayed. Never again betrayed hearts. “Never again a dictatorship,” he closed the speech read by the organizations, applauded and celebrated by the crowd.