By Rosario Pipolo
I arrived in Santiago de Chile early in the morning. I walked along Avenida Libertador ‘O Higgins before sunrise light up the capital of the country ended up in the hands of the military coup on September 11, 1973. I waited for the sunrise in front of La Moneda Palace. I saw the riot, the burning building, I relived the end of Salvador Allende’s Chile. There was a policeman going back and forth recalling buried nostalgia of Pinochet dictatorship.
This was my journey of memory I had been waiting for a long time, before I had seen the movie Garage Olimpo by Marco Bechis at Venice Film Festival; before I had been finding out the ogre Pinochet’s rise to power, sustained by Western countries; before I had been looking for documents and files on the genocide of desaparecidos. All of us we were accomplices, some more, some less.
I have historical hard feelings about this crime liquefied in indifference of Chileans, who avoided to answer on the subject without taking it upon themselves to express a clear point of view. September 11 disappeared in the tunnel of indifference, didn’t it?
On the other hand, all of Chileans in exile met in my life, including the musical band of Intillimani interviewed in Milan more than ten years ago, showed me the contrary.
A florist gave me a white carnation and I thanked her in my broken Spanish: “I’m an Italian with the courage of an exiled Chilean coming back home”. Yes, I felt so along the avenues of the General Cemetery looking at the desert clod of crosses without names and pits dug in the ground dried up by the tears of mothers, children, girlfriends who didn’t see their loved ones come back, “missing”, in one of the cruelest genocides of the Twentieth century.
I put the carnation on the tomb of Salvador Allende (1908-1973), in the silence of a Friday morning, among the souvenirs of a deep reflection ending in a conversation between me and the owner of the old bookshop Luis de Rivano, where I found a couple of publications of the 60s by the Chilean President killed by military power. I wanted to smell the scent of paper before the dictatorship, scroll ink words dreaming of a different Chile.
It was an ax chopping my 40 years the emotional impact with Museum of Memory and Human Rights. A journey within a journey among depositions, videos, documents, preserved nowadays in the only place where it lives Chilean memory and horrors of the dictatorship.
I still feel an exiled Chilean coming back home, but without finding people I left. I got lost in the streets of Santiago, listening to the songs of Los Prisioneros, the music band hostile to Pinochet regime, whose album Pateando Piedras remains the soundtrack of my memorable trip.
Leaving Santiago, I was stuck in the middle of the night crossing the Andes mountains, not far from the Argentine border for customs control. I ate a sandwich and point up at the sky. The stars gazed at me: they were the eyes of those who had broken life, making us believe they were missing. Desaparecidos remain the worst remorse of our conscience.
Rosario Pipolo is an Italian journalist, blogger and social media specialist. He lives and works in Milan.