This Means So Much: Chile's Copa America win goes beyond sport

I am not Chilean, and I don't pretend to be.

But that doesn't mean I can't hold allegiance to Chile. I spent six months there last year - a long time in the life of a 21-year-old - and, thanks to the people that I met, developed a legitimate sense of belonging in Santiago.

I lived with Chileans. I went to school with Chileans. I went drinking, and hiking, and rock climbing, and bike riding, and shopping with Chileans. I am not Chilean, but, for those six months, that was easy to forget.

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you remember itAnd you share the pain and sorrow, as well as you can manage.

Ximena will never return to Estadio Nacional because she was there, once, in 1973. She was fortunate to be on the outside, perilously looking in; had she been on the other side of its doors, she may not have reemerged.

On September 4, 1970, socialist candidate Salvador Allende was democratically elected as president of Chile.

On September 11, 1973, Allende died under mysterious circumstances after delivering his very last speech, in the face of a brutal coup d'etat by General Augusto Pinochet and a junta of right-wing economists and military leaders. Pinochet would hold the position of dictator until 1990. In those seventeen years, an estimated 3,000 Chileans were executed or declared 'disappeared', and another 200,000 were exiled. Those tortured, humiliated and murdered were everything from left-wing politicians to artists to intellectuals to musicians to young students.

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Some words from Allende's final speech:

"Trabajadores de mi Patria, tengo fe en Chile y su destino. Superarán otros hombres de este momento gris y amargo en el que la traición pretende imponerse. Sigan ustedes sabiendo que, mucho más temprano que tarde, de nuevo se abrirán las grandes alamedas por donde pase el hombre libre, para construir una sociedad mejor.

¡Viva Chile! ¡Viva el pueblo! ¡Vivan los trabajadores!"

"Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Go forward knowing that, sooner rather than later, the great avenues will open again where free men will walk to build a better society.

Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!"

Estadio Nacional was, unthinkably, used by Pinochet and the persecutors of the dictatorship's terror as a detention center. A prison. A torture den.

And on Saturday, the Chilean national team won a match there that comes as close as anything ever has at appeasing the tragedies of the 1970s.

Any Chilean you speak to who was alive in the '70s will have a story of their experience. Many were exiled, and later returned. Many went far, far away, and will never come back. Some have relatives that were abducted. Others no longer speak to their families - differences in opinion regarding the coup are too extreme to be ameliorated, even forty years later. Some, like Ximena, ran away from home as a teenager in '73, appalled at her mother's support for Pinochet's coup and madly in love with a man with similar troubles. While some are capable of forgiveness - Ximena and her mother see one another often, now - others cannot fathom the meaning of the word. The stains are too deep, for many.

memory

"A people without memory is a people without future."Remembering

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Obsessive music fan, unable to play a single note. Student; traveler of the world; amateur MacGyver; old soul; reader; walker.
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