First Response: Chile’s Lazy Denial

I will admit that I did not enter this week’s reading with much knowledge of fascism and populism in Chile or South America generally. My knowledge mostly focused on the so-called “global north.” Therefore, I assumed that most countries dealt with past human rights violations a similar way. At a most simplistic level, they either attempted to deny it like the Armenian genocide, downplay it like slavery in the US, or build monuments and learn from it like in Germany.

However, Chile did none of these. In Teresa Meade’s article, she spoke of how the mass torture and killings in Chile have partly been swept under the rug. The right-wing party does not want to mention them so as not to need to take credit for the deaths, and the left-wing parties would like to govern without confrontation and admitting torture and murders without prosecuting them would be untenable. Thus, they have simply disregarded it, like a story that is neither good not bad, simply forgotten after reading it. It was unbelievable to me that this could be swept under the rug for convenience. How will Chile and the world learn from its past if it is not mentioned? If they had actively been denied like the Armenian genocide, then there would be a public discourse about them. This could be used as a method of education.

Luckily, It is true that some groups have attempted to bring these actions into the spotlight. However, they do not have the funding or the institutional aid in Chile for them to be very successful. For example, I had never heard of them before this week’s reading.

It is essential for us to know there past so that we do not make the same mistakes twice. Hopefully, Chile will continue moving in the correct direction. Yet, there is still much work to do. Chile is a demonstration that we cannot be ambivalent in the search for truth. We must actively educate ourselves and others about the past so that we may have a better future.

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