The long shadows of Augusto Pinochet: Peace Boat passengers meet survivors of the other 9/11 in Valparaíso, Chile

Photo: When Peace Boat docked at Valparaíso, Chile last week, a group of passengers met with former prisoners under Chile's military dictatorship, which lasted from 1973 to 1990. Photo by Airi Katsuta.
When Peace Boat docked at Valparaíso, Chile last week, a group of passengers met with former prisoners under Chile’s military dictatorship, which lasted from 1973 to 1990. Photo by Airi Katsuta.

For most North Americans, the mention of 9/11 evokes grey airplanes against white cirrus; slow television seconds; and the obscene inward folding of metal and glass.

This collective memory is video-looped on CNN specials, honored by fire-fighter parades and nurtured at candlelit vigils, so that peripheral details – whether we were at biology class that day, or had told an ex we still loved them – can stick to its sides like post-it notes.

But 9/11 has entirely different associations in Chile, more difficult to pin to a central image. For Erika Arbulu, who met with a Peace Boat group when the ship docked in Valparaíso last week, the day began with radio interference, and then military songs over the transmitter.

At 7 am on September 11, 1973, Admiral José Toribio Merino’s navy captured the Chilean port city of Valparaíso. At 8 am General Augusto Pinochet’s army – secretly backed by the CIA – moved on Santiago. And by 2:30 pm, Chilean jets had bombed their own presidential palace and Salvador Allende, —> Read More Here

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