How should we remember Tragedy?

What struck me most from the readings on Chile and the torture state created by the military taking power was that there is no right way to deal with tragedy.

In Germany, they have decided to commemorate the deceased by maintaining concentration camps and administering tours to teach people of their tumultuous past. They have chosen to remember to ensure that it never happens again. In Chile, however, the government have tried to minimalize the commemoration of those who disappeared, who were tortured and raped, and murdered by the police regime. But the people have gone about commemorating themselves by the writing of books, publishing newspaper articles and making sure there witness accounts are published to show the world what actually happened in the 1970s in Chile. This struck me particularly when reading about the ‘Peace Park’ in Santiago at the old Villa Grimaldi, which was a torture site for activists and Socialist/democratic sympathisers. Meade noted that without Matta, an ex-prisoner, as a tour guide, she would have been able to gain little insight into what once lay inside Villa Grimaldi. This was because the ‘Peace park’ was marked vaguely and had no intent to teach when it was established. Originally they tried to convert the site into condos, and it was only when the media picked up on its heritage were they stopped. Matta received no institutional funding and  no government assistance, but decided to commit his life to ensuring people know about Chilean torture.

Why Chile has decided to react in this way to the debaucheries of their past? Even when a socialist, Ricardo Lagos, returned to power in 2001, the war criminals remained unprosecuted and the ‘disappeared’ was contained to a wall of mausoleums.

In reading about Nieves Ayress and the documentation of her torture in Chile, I also thought it was interesting how it was not until her story was published in the Washington Post that it gained importance. Her story got refused in Chile. This makes me question the corruption that must exist within Chile- the leader of the military coup, Pinochet, got disposed by referendum rather than overthrown by force, making the prosecution of war criminals less prolific. However, now there has been so much literature published surrounding Chilean atrocities, I do not understand how these villains still walk free.

What is stopping Chile from exposing its past and its war criminals? Is there still tension in the country surrounding the decade of the disappearing people?

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