Posted by Anna Rappoport- MA Candidate at CLACS at NYU
It is easy to interact with memory in Santiago- every neighborhood displays it proudly. From street art in Barrio Brasil and Barrio Yungay, to the polished, classically inspired architecture that surrounds La Moneda. However, public representations of memory regarding the events of September 11th, 1973 and the eighteen years of dictatorship that followed are often tucked away- representative of many Chileans “out of sight, out of mind” attitudes. Looking even further outside the capital- where the majority of atrocities under the dictatorship occurred- proved even more difficult.
Chile is one of the few Latin American countries that has actively supported sites of memory throughout the country, lending governmental and financial support for the creation of museums, memorials, preservation of sites of torture and detainment, and other public spaces that commemorate the gross human rights violations of the Pinochet regime. While many sites began through the preservation efforts of victims’ family members and survivors, the government has incorporated many into DIBAM (Directory of Libraries, Archives and Museums) or Chile’s National Patrimony. My project enabled me to travel to the Region Metropolitana to explore the numerous sites of memory around the region, and I particularly focused on the Museum of Memory and Human Rights and the Paine Memorial, located about 30 minutes south of Santiago.
Paine is a small agricultural town best known for their watermelons, however prior to the Agricultural Reform that occurred in 1972, struggled with the extreme inequality of the latifundio system. Aided by Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR), some of Paine’s campesinos joined together to reclaim the lands they worked from the latifundio owners. When Pinochet took control of Chile in 1973, the latifundio owners and carabineros hunted down Paine’s campesinos, MIRistas, and sympathizers that took over the lands. 31 years after these unjust murders, the Paine Memorial was conceived.