Chilean-dictatorship exhibition comes to Toronto

25 Junio 2015 / Ethan Lou

An exhibition with pieces from Chile’s renowned Memory and Human Rights Museum is coming to Toronto.

roving exhibition about Chile’s years under military dictatorship has come to Toronto, where many refugees from the regime ended up settling.

A showcase created by Chile’s Museum of Memory and Human Rights opened Wednesday, featuring photographs and posters from the period following a coup in 1973.

Of the 8,000 refugees Canada took in, most went to Toronto and Montreal.

Museum director Ricardo Brodsky and Maria Luisa Ortiz, its chief of collections and research, explained some of the exhibits to the Star.

Prison in a stadium

Chile’s national stadium was turned into a prison camp following the coup by Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

A Swedish-made poster shows a scene at the stadium with the words Stoppa Matchen!— stop the match — a reference to the stadium’s use for soccer before the military dictatorship.

A Coca-Cola bottle is seen below the tennis racquet’s shaft, representing the large corporations that some opponents of Pinochet viewed as supporting the regime.

A home for the exiled

Thousands fled in the wake of the 1973 coup. A poster made by the French solidarity movement, one of many that sprang up around the world, reads: “Chile — hosting refugees,” encouraging countries to take in victims of the regime.

The crisis had a direct result in Canada of prompting the government to create a formal refugee policy, which had not previously existed.

‘For a dignified return’

A painting made by Chilean artist Gracia Barrios in 1989, toward the end of Pinochet’s rule, reads: “For a dignified return” — a call for Chileans who had been forced to flee to return.

The badge seller

By the 1980s, Pinochet was so unpopular, anti-regime rallies were commonplace.

This picture was taken during one such march in the capital city of Santiago. A woman with three young children is seen selling badges for the plebiscite of 1988, which finally removed the dictatorship from power.

The plebiscite on whether Pinochet’s rule should be extended for eight more years was won by the “no” side, with about 56 per cent of the vote.

No amnesty

Pinochet passed a 1978 amnesty law that effectively prevented prosecution of those involved in human rights abuses. The picture shows a march by prominent Chileans against that law.

The long-haired, moustached man in the middle is Lautaro Carmona Soto, who currently holds a position equivalent to an MP in Canada. To his left is Father Jose Aldunate, a human rights activist, and Arturo Barrios, then president of the students’ federation.

Chile moved to formally repeal the law only last year, though judges have been circumventing it.

Democracy at last

A crowd gathers in 1990 at Chile’s national stadium — then no longer a prison camp — to celebrate the end of the military dictatorship. Pinochet’s regime had detained more than 40,000 people in the stadium.

The women in front are relatives of people who were “disappeared” — allegedly killed — during the regime. They hold posters of their loved ones.

‘Where are they?’

In a photo taken following the dictatorship’s fall, people protest the human rights abuses of Pinochet’s regime. They hold posters of their loved ones who disappeared under the junta; the posters show pictures of the victims and the words Donde Estan?— “Where are they?”

More than 3,000 people disappeared during Pinochet’s rule. The banner in front reads, “The truth is not negotiable.”

Pinochet still held power after he was voted out, though he was eventually placed under house arrest. He died in 2006, with 300 criminal charges still pending.

The exhibition, at the Beit Zatoun Gallery, will remain through Friday, followed by an opening in Hamilton’s The Peal Company on the evening of July 3.

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