Forty-five years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to roam around freely in Latin America—unless the other me had had a taste for military dictatorship tourism, and I don’t think she would have.
Forty-five years ago, the US-backed Plan Cóndor implemented a campaign of political repression and state terror involving intelligence operations and assassination of opponents in most of South America.
Forty-five years ago, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay were right-wing dictatorships and the governments of Colombia, Peru and Venezuela were sporadic members of Operation Condor as well. Things weren’t any better in Central America, by the way.
I love exploring today’s South America, but it also makes sense to look at what it was just a few decades ago, if only to see how much a country can change, for the better or for the worse.
In Chile, all it took was a military coup (with US help) overthrowing Allende on 11 September 1973. Allende apparently committed suicide as the armed forces were bombarding La Moneda and Augusto Pinochet took control of the country.
Followed years of terror until the election of a “transition” president in 1988. Dozens of history books and documents will give you a better overview of these years and Chile’s present that, as an outsider, I can only touch upon.
Today, Argentina, Chile and many other Latin America countries are trying to deal with their past. In Argentina, I visited the ESMA, in Santiago, I went to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights. It’s not a fun place but it gave me hope—things can change for the better.