Santiago, Italia (2018) - full transcript

After the coup d'État of the Democratic government of Allende, the embassy of Italy in Santiago played a major role in helping the opposers of the regime, and extradited many of them Italy....

The united Left

will never be defeated.


The candidate, Salvador Allende!

With the poet, Pablo Neruda!

Neruda, Neruda, the people salute you!

The Unidad Popular years

were like a waking dream.

A whole country, a whole society
in a state of love.

There was an intensity to life...

that lives on now.

It's that eternal instant

of the moment when hope
is not for tomorrow,

but for today, now.

It was a great moment for us,

the most important moment
experienced by my generation

because we thought

we would make this country happier,

that illiteracy would be wiped out,
that the land would go to the peasants,

that the workers
would have a better life...

We did all we could
to change the country

in what we saw
as a highly positive way.

We worked with the peasants
and students.

Those were unforgettable times for me.

I learnt everything I know
during that time.

It was a wonderful experience.

The country was advancing
and, of course, anyone aged 18, 19 or 20

advanced with it.

It was a country in love

with Allende
and with what was happening.

Fantastic, fair, beautiful...

- And you?
- I was there, among the people.

I recall I was shooting a film
called The First Year

that related all the events,
month by month, over a year,

Allende's first year.

It was amazing,
one long celebration.

In the countryside, cities and homes,

there was a joy
I had never seen in Chile.

It was Che Guevara's idea
of a new man

with the possibility
of emerging from underdevelopment,

of resolving the injustices here

that were simply terrifying.

Terrible infant mortality...

I worked at that time in schools,

initially in primary schools.
I had just begun.

Some children were too ashamed to come
as they had no shoes.

Things no one can really imagine
these days.

The other aspiration

was to provide education
for all children.

Education in Chile was free,
unlike now.

It was free under Allende,

at universities,

middle schools, primary schools.

It was a race

to figure out
what was happening, how, etc.

You wanted everything
but you also began to realize

that, politically,
things take time, right?

It led to a split.

There were two views.

One said
we had to "avanzar sin transar",

strike while the iron was hot,
while the others were saying

we had to go slowly
so as not to alarm the bourgeoisie.

The bourgeoisie must be treated well.

That is a very old view,
as old as the hills politically,

for one side of the Left.

We Socialists,
the majority of the Socialist Party,

were for this policy
of "avanzar sin transar",

without compromise.

You have already partly felled the tree.

Do you straighten it or chop it down?

We felt we had to chop it down.

Humanist, democratic Socialism

was Allende's goal.

It would distinguish
the Unidad Popular government

from the other forms of Socialism
at that time,

with their hierarchical regimes,

highly authoritarian
and dictatorial.

For the first time ever,

a Socialist,
with his Marxist ideology,

attained power
through a democratic vote.

Before, it had been done by force.

It struck the world
and terrified the Americans.

Declassified CIA archives,

the Church Report
to the US Senate,

provide clear proof

of the US efforts

to prevent Salvador Allende's election

by financing

key newspapers like El Mercurio

and other elements of the Chilean Right

to prevent Salvador Allende
from being elected.

Once he was elected,

the Americans' very own documents prove

that American funding was fundamental

in the ensuing conspiracy
and sedition in Chile.

In the declassified documents,

Kissinger says.

"Chile is a small Latin American land,

even if it's a major copper producer,

but the main problem
with Allende's experiment

is the fact that this experiment,

this example, can serve
in France and Italy

where there are strong Communist parties

that could propose
this political program

with left-wing sectors
of the Christian Democrats

or other forces in France."

The conservatives

could not admit there was a Socialist

who immediately began by freezing prices

and gave half a liter of milk a day
to every Chilean child.

All these social measures
that no one had thought of before.

Nationalizing copper...

He nationalized it
without compensating the Americans

because he said
they earned so much from our copper

they deserved no compensation.

That, of course, outraged the Americans

and their government too.

And so all this created
a situation of social conflict,

social, not political,

as the country
found itself split in two.

There was no bread, sugar, oil,
electricity, etc.

No gasoline.

The Right had begun
to block everything.

As they owned the factories,

they did not distribute
what the people needed.

The government imposed a freeze
on food prices.

Meat could only cost so much,

bread and cigarettes too.

Basic items for the population.

With prices frozen,
the sellers turned to the black market.

You couldn't find anything.

Consumer goods
were out of reach to everyone...


...except on the black market
for twenty times more.

They controlled every media
and we had none.

The right-wing press
launched an aggressive campaign

to give an image of misgovernment,

an image of the inability to govern,

a continual denigration
displayed in all newspapers,

with huge headlines on every news stand.

It was a message to the people
continually repeating,

"This government isn't working
and will bankrupt the country."

Those of us with the government
had no way to retort.

We had no media on our side.

I tell you, comrades,

comrades of so many years,

I tell you with calm,

with absolute tranquility,

I am no apostle,

nor am I a messiah,

I have no vocation to be a martyr.

I am a social fighter

with a task to complete,

entrusted to me by the people.

But let it be understood

by those who would turn back History

and betray the will of Chile's majority:

even without the vocation of a martyr,

I will not take a step back.

Let them understand,

I will leave La Moneda

once I complete the mandate
the people gave me!

I have no other alternative.

Only by riddling me with bullets

can they curb my determination

to implement
the people's program!

Trying to change the country
in those conditions,

with so many enemies,

the financial sector, the military,

the Americans,

television and everything,

was tough.

We knew that in the end

they would intervene by force.

I learned at that time that democracy
is a good thing

as long as it serves the mighty.

I must say,
even though I was very young,

I had a slight tendency

to minimize things.

Three times already in Italy,

I had been through coup alerts.

Once, in a Turin pastry shop,
we ate no end of sweets

because this secret group

had convened in a pastry shop.

And so I tended to say, "Fine,

they say we have coups at home,
but nothing happens."

Today, after so long,
how do you view your years of activism?

What a question...

I've never asked myself that,
and that's fine.

How do I view my years of activism?


If there's something

good about this life, it's being able

not only to earn it decently,
which is a lot, a huge thing,

but also to do it for so many others.

Mistakenly or not.

SEPTEMBER 11, 1973

I was at home that day
with the Chilean family hosting me.

I got up early as usual to call
my paper, Lotta Continua, in Rome,

taking into account the time difference.

I had some great meetings lined up.

So many meetings,
I felt like a great journalist.

One was at the presidential palace,
La Moneda,

where they would give me
an accredited journalist's card.

However, from early morning,

strange announcements
began to be heard on the radio.

Communication with Valparaiso
was cut.

The President arrived unusually early
at La Moneda.

Special communiques
were expected.

And the coup actually began
on the radio.

of the Government Junta of Chile.

Santiago, September 11, 1973.

The Chilean armed forces and police

that the President of the Republic

must forthwith transfer his mandate

to the Chilean armed forces and police.

This declaration

demands the President's resignation.

I refuse.

I inform the nation

of the unthinkable behavior of soldiers

who flout their oath and their duty.

I hereby state my determination

to continue to defend Chile.

We heard Allende's first message.

We were surprised.

We told ourselves,
"It's serious.

The coup d'état will really happen."

At our office,

we heard Allende's other two messages.

At first, we had a feeling...

of astonishment.

And then of fear.

Both, little by little.

What to do?

There were five of us there,
in the office,

and we couldn't decide.

And so I told the cameraman,
Jorge Miller,

"Let's go to La Moneda

to see if we can film things."

We went 200 meters or so
and there was shooting from all sides.

The windows in the houses opened

and people applauded

the gunfire.

Then the planes flew over

and, each time,
it was like a goal had been scored.

It was awful.

The Palace of La Moneda

must be evacuated

before 11 AM.

If not,

it will be attacked
by the Chilean Air Force.

How old were you in September '73?

I was seven.

Do you remember that day?

Yes, I remember it perfectly.

Both my mother and my father

were teachers in state schools.

They had just separated.

They had to separate
right before the coup!

So, along with my two brothers,

I was living with my mother
in a house in Conchali.

The planes started flying over
really low

and my brothers and I
climbed onto a low wall

to wave to them...

My mother grabbed hold of us
and shut us inside the house.

She took all her books...

It still upsets me.

She took her books,
put them on the patio,

poured gasoline over them
and burned them.

A mass of people, walking,


All in silence,

a mass of people walking

from the city center

towards the south.

They didn't run.

But that silence...

Then the planes came...

I saw the planes bomb La Moneda.

That was something

I'd never imagined.

What citizen could imagine

their own air force bombing
the seat of government?

Workers of my country,

at this ultimate moment,

the last time I can address you,

I have faith in Chile and its destiny.

Other 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!

These are my final words

and I am certain

that my sacrifice will not be in vain.

Allende's speech

was a powerful farewell.

We experienced it politically.

We knew from listening to him

there would be no resistance,
be it military

or political.

We didn't know then
that Allende would die

but listening to him,

knowing him.

We knew that a period
was coming to a close.

He preferred,

above all, to avoid civil war.

We didn't understand it at the time.

With our revolutionary passion,
we'd have fought.

But he stepped aside to end the debate.

Without a president,
there are no loyalists and so on.

Only the future.

The army took me prisoner

and so I returned to Chile Film
as a prisoner.

I had only just left.

Then, over a tiny radio
belonging to the caretaker,

we all learnt in dismay,

the soldiers, the sergeants,

the prisoners like me,

the caretaker,

everyone who was there,

Allende was dead.

I remember one thing.

The commander of the unit
holding me prisoner

took off his helmet and said,

"Shit, what are we doing?"

They are now putting the body

of ex-President Salvador Allende

in an army ambulance.

We are outside La Moneda.

We saw him and can confirm
that his face was blown away.

I tend to believe the hypothesis

that was also put forward
by his people, the GAP,

that he killed himself.

He had no choice.

They were coming in,
they bombed the palace...

I have always stated
the President was murdered.

I have stated it publicly, always.

I have stated it in a film,
Allende in His Maze,

and in another,
Allende, the Time of History,

in which I say,
"No, he was murdered."

I think history will show
in 20, 40 or 50 years

that it was a murder

because the evidence is there.

You first think
he wouldn't choose suicide.

He'd die in combat, etc.

Then again, suicide was normal.

They bombed the palace,

He wouldn't go to prison.

He said on radio,
"I won't leave the palace alive."

The armed forces and the police

have acted today

solely with the patriotic goal

of taking the country

out of the extreme chaos

created by the Marxist government

of Salvador Allende.

The junta

will maintain judiciary power

and supervision
of the National Audit Office.

The houses

will be in recess until further notice.

The situation marked a rupture

with a whole democratic life

that suddenly turned
into a dictatorship.

That was impressive.

We had no experience
of the military

or of dictatorial or harsh regimes.

This country that was so free

was suddenly transformed
into a hellish land.

Only soldiers on the street.

All night, there were helicopters
with bright spotlights

flying over Santiago's streets...

to see who was out.

From a certain hour at night
until a certain hour in the morning,

no cars were allowed out,
only military vehicles.

That, of course,
created a climate of fear.

Everyone knew

which vehicles

were used by the DINA,
the secret police.

People were afraid.

If ever your doorbell rang at night

that was a sign of the worst.

You were afraid to go out.

If you went out to shop,
you'd go straight home.

You didn't walk around.
You stayed shut in.

That was the new life, shut in.

When they came for me
five days later, they took me

to the police station
and then the National Stadium.

In actual fact,

there are two camps with detainees.

The National Stadium one

is particularly full,

with a number
of just over 7,000 people.

To meet the commander,

I mistakenly entered,

instead of his building,
the stadium itself.

I entered the stairs
and saw, along a wall,

a hundred people, hands like this,
facing the wall,

all in silence, with two soldiers.

I realized I was in the wrong place.

I went to the right building
and said,

"The Foreign Ministry has allowed me
to see the commander."

Then a young lieutenant

pulled out a P38 and said,

"A man feels fulfilled with this."

It was like being in some B-movie
with Nazis.

Then two other soldiers shouted,

"One hanged himself last night."

"Great, less work for us."

That bad.

What did you know
about what was happening at the stadium?

Torture, killings...

While we were there,

we hardly ever talked
about the killings.

It was a way to defend ourselves

The days of fear, of great fear,

were the first three or four

when they kept us in the locker rooms
all the time.

We'd hear confused noises
in the hallway.

We'd hear gunshots
but couldn't tell where from.

One time,
they let us out in the hallway.

A hooded man walked past us,
a spy, an informer

who had to look at us
and pick someone.

At first, they didn't feed us.

On the third day,
they began to give us soup.

At one point, a man arrived,

made us lower our pants

and put oil on our genitals

to prevent the spread of lice
in the locker room.

No one had lice,
but they thought we did.

Some Red Cross ladies came
and threw us candy

as if we were monkeys.
It all fell to the floor.

At night, they turned on the light.

Who knows why.

A machine gun out in the corridor

was loaded and kept ready to fire.

Then, on the 15th day,

an officer called out my name.

I went out onto the field.

There were
around twenty or thirty of us.

They told us
that we were free to go.

Before we left,

an officer gave us a speech,

telling us how to behave,

to obey military orders,

to go to bed early,

to avoid all political activity, etc.

Like we were children.

We left the stadium...

I remember
we were four or five friends

and we sat down on the street,

not knowing what to do.

We had no money for the bus.
We didn't know what to do.

After a while,
we realized we had to hurry

because of the curfew.

So we got on the bus
without paying.

The driver knew
where we had been,

just like his passengers.

When we got on,
they fell silent

and looked out of the window.

All citizens are warned

that any act of sabotage

in any kind of national activity,

such as companies, factories,


or transport, etc.

will be severely punished.

What is your opinion today

of the September 11 coup

against a president
democratically elected by the people?

I think it was a good thing.
I always have.

We, the Chilean military,

generally kept well away from politics.

It wasn't our role professionally.

The military didn't go near politics.

At least my generation

and maybe the previous one.

We disliked
getting involved in politics.

But Chile was on the verge
of civil war.

Let's try to remember

how he came to power.

First, a democratic election, true,

but he won that election
with just 36% of the votes,

meaning that more than 60%...

But that's called democracy.


Yes, all right.

We were the true defenders of democracy.

Democracy was reinstated

because the military government
rebuilt it.

His program was totally unacceptable.

Implementing it would have led
to a totalitarian system.

There were so many parties.

Why a totalitarian system?

All those parties:
Socialist, Communist,

the MAPU,
the Christian Democrats...

That was at a point in time!

But where it was heading
was perfectly clear, it was...

Maybe it wasn't
a single party government,

maybe not,

but there was a single ideology,

Marxist-Leninist ideology.

Do you justify illegal detention centers

such as Villa Grimaldi

and also torture?

I do not justify torture at all.

But it was used all the same.

Perhaps it was used,
but I never saw it.

No one saw a thing!

So the press, television, public opinion

have all set out to frame the junta?

I am speaking of my own experience.

I was surprised to hear of such cases
when they were tried.

Indeed, I saw the interviews
in which they admitted to it.

It was their doing.

Neither the junta nor the government
ordered it.

The military version says,

"it was civil war.
We were forced to step in."


That's a lie.

It was simply a matter
of students, workers and laborers

getting organized to defend jobs,

along with the elected government.

Civil war was impossible.

The other side had nothing,
no army or anything.

That was the military's
most stupid mistake.

There was no need to "disappear"
thousands of people or use torture.

They had no adversary.

We had nothing
to march on La Moneda with.

The people didn't...

No doubt there were a few air guns
in factories here and there.

I don't deny that.

There was also shooting
in four or five factories.

Those were heroic acts.

We consider them as heroic acts.

Comrades who believed
with all their hearts.

And they believed
that they could resist too.

Unlike many other coups,

when they seized power,
in the aftermath,

they were determined to exterminate

all those who had collaborated
with Allende.

The methods used in that decade,

virtually eliminated

the Revolutionary Left
and its main cadres,

then the Socialist Party

and the leaders
of the Communist Party

during 1976.

The goal was total annihilation.

The assassination

of the opposition's political cadres,

defenseless people.

It's true, defenseless.

We held several meetings.

We did tiny things to protect people

and to protect each other,

to know what happened,
who was in the stadium,

if there were any informers.

I have my own view on that issue too.

I don't believe
anyone can resist torture.

So you can't really condemn someone
who ends up giving your name.

My name was given under torture, I know.

However, if it meant that comrade

received half as much electricity
to his testicles,

it is not condemnable.

I cannot say he was wrong.

When they came to get me,

they already knew I could take them
where they wanted to go.

That was the problem.

Others could have said,
"I don't know" or "I know them."

They wanted to get
to the MIR political committee.

But I never talked.
Nothing happened.

I was taken to Villa Grimaldi.

How long were you there?

That time, I spent 45 days
at Villa Grimaldi.

That means

for 45 days, you're not a prisoner,
you're just missing.

It means your family looks for you

The police haven't arrested you
so know nothing.

If you can tell me,
how did they torture you?

Well, torture is something...

I can talk about it

because we militants,
above all the women,

talk about these things

as a way to exorcize
fear and suffering.

Well, then...

in that situation,

the first strange thing

was that a woman undressed you, see?

Then they took you to a room
full of men,

three or four people,

one who operated
and others who had fun.

That's the tragic thing.

There were also women shouting

to make you lie down
on a bed base, a sort of cot...


made up of steel bands.

Very old ones that must have served
in other countries.

They tied your arms and feet to it

and gave you electric shocks,

above all to the humid areas,
the vagina and breasts.

They had questions for you.

When you were ready to talk,
you raised your hand and said so,

then they stopped to let you talk.

They began to torture me.

The thing is, in my case,

I lost a lot of blood.

At one point,

while waiting to be questioned
and tortured,

one guy tore off the tape,

removed my blindfold
and, at that point,

I said, "For pity's sake,
stop ripping off the tape!"

The guy looked at me and said,

"You're tearing out my eyelashes!"

And my friend there with me said,

"What do eyelashes matter
if they kill us?"

I said, “They'll kill us,
but I want to die with my lashes!”

I was there, blindfolded,
and someone knocked on the door.

I saw one of the torturers,
one of those who had fun,

one who shouted,

"Give her more.
She knows and won't talk."

She said, "Señora Marcia,
step outside, I have a favor to ask."

I stepped out, she removed my blindfold

and I discovered she was
seven or eight months pregnant...

She was expecting
and she was knitting.

She wanted me to help.

"You can knit."

She wanted me
to help knit a cardigan for her baby.

That's why I say it was madness.

I remember sitting with her

and teaching her to knit,

thinking that just after
she might kill me.

They tortured me a lot.

When they arrested Carmen Yañez,

they sat her on the floor

and showed her
how she would end up.

They removed her blindfold

to show her how a person
who resisted ended up.

That person was me.

I sat by her and told her,
"Carmen, don't talk

or you'll live the rest of your life
with the remorse

that someone you denounced
was killed or disappeared.

That really hurts.

It's a pain
you will never manage to overcome,

so don't open your mouth

and relax
because we're going to a better place."

I don't know

whom this government
is fighting.

The Chilean people?

It's a strange thing,

an army fighting
the people of its homeland

to impose a situation by force.

The important ones,

those who did the best work
during the dictatorship

were the Catholic Church's clergy.

We had a cardinal, a wonderful person,

who was the only one

who could halt the military's excesses,

who cared
about the missing or tortured.

Churches became a refuge

for all those
who had no other possibility.

That cardinal has been forgotten.

John-Paul II let him go
as soon as he turned 75.

He was the most important personality
of the Chilean resistance for me.

At that time,

young people wanted to be priests

because it was so...

How can I put it?

The stature was so great...

This priest's moral stature.

Why are you so moved?

Why are you so moved,
thinking of that cardinal?

Because he was...

the way a cardinal should be.

I'm not a Catholic, I'm an atheist.

I have nothing to do with that.

But when...

a person...

deserves respect...

you must give it to him.


They prosecute us for torture,

because we're criminals,
because we're offenders,

because we're kidnappers,
because we're killers.

That is not so.

The army.

The officers,
the non-commissioned officers,

are professional people
who followed orders.

That said, there were some cases

handled in an irregular manner.

Yes, there were some.

But, at the same time,
the people on the other side

also killed people.

We executed some
by firing squad.

Those were executions
decided by court martial.

There were deaths on both sides.

They killed a lot of our people.

They talk about numbers...

One death is important.
Just one.

Millions died in the USSR.

If we consider military governments,
Argentina had 30,000 deaths.

Know how many in Chile?

Less than 3,000.

What charge were you convicted on?

I'm accused of homicide and kidnapping.

My line of defense
has always been perfectly clear.

I've been saying the same thing
for twenty years now.

I've been a prisoner here ten years

and I still say it.


I am innocent
of all the charges against me.

Because we have been persecuted,

judicially and politically.

So you feel you're a victim?

A victim. I am a victim.

Why was Allende so dangerous?

For me, he wasn't dangerous.

He wasn't.

Even so, bombing La Moneda...

He had violated
Chilean justice and law

and the Constitution.

Do you feel
you have done things in your life

for which you must ask forgiveness?

I, Eduardo Iturriaga,

ask forgiveness for all the bad things
I may have done.

I don't feel any hatred
for my opponents,

even though those opponents hate me.

Now, if they hear about this interview,

they'll say,
"That criminal Iturriaga."

I'm no criminal.

"That torturer Iturriaga."

I'm no torturer.

"That kidnapper Iturriaga."

I'm no kidnapper.

"Neither forgive, nor forget,"
they say.

I say,
"Yes, let's forgive each other.

You forgive and we forgive."

What do you ask forgiveness for?

You are not my judge.

You are not my confessor.

You are neither a judge, nor a priest.

I don't give interviews,
but I accepted because Señor Núñez

told me this one
would be, let's say, impartial.

Because it's not enough to give me...

to get me to read my statement,

but if you place it within a context
that prejudices us,

that prejudices us with bad words,
for example...

I'm not impartial.

I'm not impartial.


Just then, the doorbell rang.

"Shit, they followed me."

Instead, it was a nun who asked,
"Are you David Muñoz?"

"Yes," I told her.

She was in plain clothes,
with a cross here.

"We're going to try to get you
into the Italian Embassy.

My colleague is waiting outside
with a car.

You have to leave everything.

Don't bring anything and let's try."

Let me digress...

Before, thanks to my cousin
who had gone south

with his bosses' permission,

I knew
I was wanted dead or alive,

along with eight others
from my province, Cautin.

It was a difficult situation.

And so, well...

I followed this nun

into their car.

The other girl
was dressed as a nun too.

We began a voyage
around Santiago,

with me surrounded by baskets
of vegetables, fruit and bread,

until we arrived in the streets
near the Italian Embassy.

Then, the girl dressed as a nun
turned to me and said,

"Get out now

and act like a young couple.

Stroll calmly along the street

and she'll help you over the wall."

So we walked for a bit

and then she said to me,

"The wall seems lower here."

She crossed her hands for my foot,

lifted me up
and I grabbed the wall.

As I was straddling the wall,

she called out,

"Bye. Say hi to the others
I've sent over the wall before.

I'm Valeria."

We walked along the street,
several times,

always dressed differently.

Two or three times a day.

At either end of the street,

there were armored vehicles,
police armored oars.

Four men patrolled opposite
as they couldn't on this side.

I'd always been bad at gymnastics
since I was little.

I remember how a teacher told me once,

"Gymnastics will be useful one day."

And I remembered that.

We went to train
in a neighborhood stadium

with a wall like this.

We said, "This is it."
And we went for it.

We ran across the street
and climbed over the wall.

Even now, I can't figure out
how I got over

because I was left hanging
on one side,


hanging like this.

And then I saw two people
lean over and pull me up.

When I left the taxi
near the embassy,

a military jeep with officers

started coming towards me.

Two soldiers were at the gate,
one on either side, blocking it.

I immediately saw my brother-in-law
behind the gate

and I ran.

I ran a race for once in my life.

When, above all,

the Communist Party Central
Committee and Communist Youth

were decimated,
after they killed them,

the circle tightened

and someone from the Youth Directorate
told me,

"You have to leave...

We can't..."

I said,
"I don't want to leave my country."

Then they told me
I had to get into the Italian Embassy

in Santiago.

The only embassy still open

and receiving people of that kind.

So my mother came with my daughter.

I remember she had on a yellow dress

that I had made for her.

I hugged my mother

and said, "Mom,

you have to walk
around the embassy wall,

holding the little one up

because, at one point,

someone will grab her

and you have to...

If you hear them say so,
throw her over the wall."

Forgive me.

At the corner of Elena Blanco

and the street behind
whose name I forget,

on that sharp corner,

my daughter was thrown
by my mother

and Freddy, her father,

and other comrades caught her

like a bundle tossed over the wall.

When they told me
to jump over the wall,

I, who have always been useless
at gymnastics,

but with a strong survival instinct,

I drew on all my powers of agility,

peered over
and saw that there was a pool

with people sunbathing around it.

I thought, "Hey, I'm a political
refugee, not a burglar."

I thought it was a private home.

There were people...

There was a gardener there

and everyone joked afterwards
because I started to ask,

"Excuse me..."
- I didn't know much Italian -

"Excuse me, sir,
is this the Italian Embassy?"

And the gardener, smarter than me,
signaled to me to jump.

For, indeed, it was the embassy.

I was very obedient and gullible.

I believed everything.

"Tomorrow, you enter
the Italian Embassy.

There's a blind spot at the back.

No one will see you

and you'll be expected."

The next day, a car picked me up

drove me there and left me

on Calle Clemente Fabres.

I saw the blind spot.

And there was a soldier there

with his rifle.

I went towards the soldier.

I got to the blind spot and jumped.

He said, "What are you doing?"

"I'm lumping}.

"Halt!" He started to reach
for his rifle to shoot at me.

Above me,

over the corner, was a tree.

An apple tree, is that right?

And sitting up there

was a MIR comrade called Vergara.

He was sitting eating an apple.

When I jumped
after throwing my bag over,

he grabbed my arms
and we fell into the grounds

with the soldier firing.

It wasn't true I was expected.

I should have been smarter.

I couldn't do it alone.

We fell inside
and the impact was terrific.

I broke my leg.

While he took a bullet in the...

in the shoulder.

At one point,

there was such a race to the embassies
by these Chileans

who were driven mad with fear

and who would jump over the wall.

They didn't even ask
or enter the normal way.

The embassy wall was very low.

They've raised it by a meter now.

It's three meters high now,
but then it was low.

Just two meters.

Someone had removed bricks
here and there to make a ladder.

People would arrive and jump in.

And this created
a real moral dilemma for me.

When I began to see
these uncontrolled arrivals,

I asked myself, "What do I do?"

I asked my ministry
for instructions on what to do.

Of course,
they never gave me any.

So I decided to keep them all.

Not to send anyone away.

With some embassies,
we worked very hard.

The Swedes.

The Swedes were...

Many embassies took refugees,
but stopped much earlier.

We continued longer.

This reception room was a bedroom.

Not for just one person, of course,

but for fifty.

There were fifty of us here...

every night.

There we so many of us.
It was a large place, a whole block.

I felt good there.

There were comrades,
many older than me,

so it was an opportunity
to discuss and talk.

To gain experience.

There was a large room.

We called it La Legua,

after a working-class district.

We had mattresses on the floor
that we shared.

The comrade and I who shared
were close neighbors.

We slept back to back.

I was lucky to be 20.

At that age, such things are...

well, not amusing,

as there were dark thoughts,

but they don't weigh on you.

I'd have gladly slept on the floor.

Many people in a very small space.

It was amusing
as there were three floors

and also a basement.

In the basement,
there were couples with children.

Then, on the side facing the pool,

there were only men...

unmarried men.
What's the word?

Single men.

Only single men.

And then,

there were couples on the other floor

and, on the top floor,

the single girls.

The comings and goings...

People up and down all night!

I had no place to sleep

and I found
the ambassador's wife's bathtub.

Imagine, sleeping in a bathtub.

It was fantastic because...

as well as a place to sleep,
it protected me.

Sleeping with its sides around me...

I felt so perfect there.

My back never hurt or anything.

The embassy provided a cook.

We organized ourselves to help the cook.

We'd take turns to wash dishes,
peel potatoes,

the usual chores.

We also kept the garden clean
as it's very big.

I think you've been there.

It's very big.

We were trying to make our lives
as normal as possible.

Fortunately, there were also
two psychologists there

who gave the most stressed of us
a little extra valium

to calm them.

We lived a life that had nothing
to do with life outside.

But we were pure Stalinists.

I remember an old Socialist gentleman

who was expelled from his party

within the embassy for indiscipline

because he refused to peel potatoes.

He had never peeled potatoes in his life

and refused to start now.

Everyone had to do the same work.

Some spent months there.

young people with babies.

Many people didn't get along.
There was a lot of tension.

I sought refuge in the pool

to learn to swim.


I'd take a baby
to see its father

as the parents didn't speak.

They were both there,
but didn't speak?

I'd take the kid to one...

I was like a supervisor.

I don't know, I guess
we were thirty or forty children.

We had a lot of freedom.
We'd run everywhere.

As children,
we adapted the street games

to our situation.

There was a game we played
called police and thieves.

We adapted the game

and called it
"refugee and cops".

We would set up an obstacle
and a goal.

The refugee had to run
and jump to the goal.

The police had to catch him
and if they did, he was dead.

The flow of refugees

gradually shifted to people

who were fleeing
like people flee Africa now.

From hunger.

They would come to see
if there was a way to get to Europe

and away from there.

The Foreign Ministry

was worried
and didn't want to grant visas

because it was afraid

of what we would now call
a "pull factor".

Some say we mustn't save the people
who die in the Mediterranean

because only more will come.

That's rather cynical, isn't it?

They called me and said,

"They threw a dead girl

over the wall into the embassy."

After the curfew, at 6 or 7 AM,

I went and I found this girl, dead.

What could we do?

They told us someone had been thrown
over the wall.

We went to see.

He approached, I didn't,

and he said it was Lumi.

And then...

This part was really...

really painful, so terrible.

After that, they came

and they took her away.

A week later,
CNI officers, the secret police,

came to question us all

because, according to their version,
there had been an orgy

during which we killed her.

Lumi was an exceptional,
truly remarkable woman.

I would say
she was one of the few women

who were emblematic MIR fighters.

She was killed

and thrown
into the Italian Embassy garden

in a macabre act

with the connivance and complicity

of the main media in Chile

to make it look as if her death

had occurred inside the embassy.

They were scare tactics,

an attempt to terrorize the refugees

who, if I'm not mistaken, were 250,

many of whom were children,
women and old people.

It was to say,
"Look, we're breathing down your necks.

The wall is low.
We can do what we want."


Do you remember the trip
from the embassy to the airport?

Unforgettable. I certainly do.

On the day my safe-conduct arrived,

I had to pack

and go out through the gates.

There were a few people there

along with a bus

waiting for us.

And, in the group out there,
I saw my brother

who ran to pass me $100
that I put here.

We boarded a bus

and, in front of us, there was

a jeep with soldiers,

and another behind.

This caravan

passed through Santiago de Chile

with these 15 desperate castaways

and the two military trucks

that acted as...

They were afraid
someone would come to free us.

We couldn't even see the city.

Only straight ahead

because they put...

They made the embassy vehicles put up...

What's the damn word?

Curtains at the windows so...

We couldn't even see Santiago.

When they told us
they had given us the pass to leave,

I got a suit

and a tie,

to be worthy
of that very important moment.

I had made myself a sort of backpack,
with a fist on it,

and carried it with me anyway.

I had it on the bus
when we were going to the airport

and the cars saw it.

It was a way of hailing

and joining the political struggle.

What did you feel at that moment?

I was definitely very excited about it.

The five minutes with the family
were very intense.

- Where?
- Santiago Airport.

My mother was a Catholic.

She thought the Communists
were stealing her son.

She believed it for ages.

They took us
to a hotel on Via Aurelia.

They treated us admirably.

They gave us money.

At the hotel,
we were in Rome for the first time.

I had never left Chile for any reason.

We did a tour of Rome.

After a few days,
they came to offer us work

and I immediately signed up.

They said,
"Red Emilia has work for Chileans."

Emilia Romagna was Red Emilia then.

I ended up in a small town
called Soliera,

10,000 people.

Where 70% voted Communist.

So they treated me well.

My first job was as a worker
on a pig farm.

As an agriculture student,
I asked to work in the country

and they took me at my word.

Italy at the end of '73
was a wonderful country.

I was lucky to find a job right away
because Red Emilia had offered one.

They hired me legally.

At first, they wanted me
to be an employee at the farm,

but the workers made more.

So I asked to be a worker
because I needed

I couldn't bring my wife and daughter
to Italy for a year.

I needed money
and I needed a job.

After the farm, I worked in bars,

I washed dishes, I drove a truck.
So many jobs.

There was no undeclared work,
no dirty tricks.

I was a refugee

just like any person who comes here
without anything.

That was my condition.

I came without money.

I was welcomed.

They let me fit in.

I spoke to the Italian Communist Party
and I was hired in a foundry.

I had always been a bureaucrat
in an office...

I was hired in a foundry
called Mamoli

that made faucets,

in Lacchiarella,
a small town near Milan.

It's a very big company.

A man can learn anything.
I learnt to melt metal.

I was a worker.


In Milan.

I was a worker.

I was a driver too
for a gentleman who had broken his leg.

I drove his car for a while.

In every job, I have always been
a union rep for my Italian colleagues.

I was in a center training people
to work with disabled children.

I was their coordinator.

I think the most important work
I did as a teacher

was in Italy, not in Chile.

Right there in Rozzano.

The collaboration with my colleagues
was very important.

I was in charge of managing the network

with teachers, pedagogues
and psychologists.

Never once did an Italian say,
"Why her? She's a foreigner unlike us."

Everyone recognized
that I was capable of doing that job

and they supported me in my work.

In 1978, I began reading things
other than Communist Party texts.

I moved away
from the more militant ranks.

I realized this situation would last

and I read as much as I could.

I talked in quotations.

I drew support from them.

I got interested
in Bataille, Pasolini...

A revolution.

Yes, the world opened up to me.

I started to get involved
in things in Italy, in the city.

Renato Nicolini, the Roman Summer,

the theater, Beat '72, etc.

A wonderful new world for me.

They sent me...

I forget now...
To some town to make a speech.

I went there

and I found myself, at 20 or so,

in a sports hall full of people.

The solidarity of the Italian people...

I didn't speak any Italian
and they didn't speak any Spanish.

I'd say two things
and they would clap!

We participated

in a huge event
on Piazza Santi Apostoli

and I was very impressed

to see, in the front row,
Gian Maria Volonté, the actor.

In Chile, at that time,
we had good cinemas

and he was a popular actor.

Shortly before, they had shown
Sacco e Vanzetti in Chile.

I had seen it there.

I was struck to see him
in the front row, crying.

We're here to relate an episode

that History

doesn't want to remember.

It happened in Chile.

People would cry.

They cried

after you finished explaining
what had happened,

be it 100 people,

50 people or 1,000.

It was always the same thing.

You saw the people's warmth,
their solidarity.

Italian solidarity with Chile

was very important
at the political level

of the Italian state and its parties,

the Christian Democrats, Socialists,
Communists, Republicans...

Very important, fundamental.

On a personal level,
we received all that solidarity...

Sometimes, it was as if the coup
had occurred in Italy,

the Italians suffered so much
over events in Chile.

It wasn't just the political parties.

When I was working in Modena,

I'd ride my bicycle

and people would ask,

"Hi, are you Chilean?
What's going on at home?

Do you have any fresh news?"

And the main question was,

"What can we do?

What can I do as a person to save...


...those people
from Pinochet's barbarity

and save Chile?"


One day, a 50-year-old man

stopped me and asked me...

He was a man who had seen
the last years of the Resistance.

He was a man who saw in us
those friends of his

who had fought Nazism and Fascism.

That was only 30 years before '73.

A 50-year-old
could easily have been a partisan.

Doing murals all over Italy,

I always find someone
who did something for Chile back then.

I always find someone
living in Naples or wherever...

"We did such and such for Chile."

And that is a great merit
of this people.

Italy has been able

to develop a movement so broad

that all democrats,
all anti-fascists fight

alongside the Chilean people.

Only Italy in Western Europe

has not recognized
and will not recognize the Junta.

The united people

will never be defeated!

When you arrived in Italy,

did you think
you would soon return to Chile?

All of us...

All of us lived for years
with our bags ready.

From the very first moment.

But it was a dream.

The first two years,
we rented an apartment.

We had our suitcases there.

But we didn't put anything

in the closets.

We kept them there.

We thought we could leave anytime.

You didn't settle down.

You didn't make a home.

You were passing through.

Things moved very slowly.

Maybe next week,
next month, next year.

The first New Year's Eve comes

and will this be the year to go back?

Then time begins to pass.

For years, all the Chileans in Italy
have met up.

We celebrate with a lunch,

a dance, a party, singers...

Are they all Chileans living in Italy?

Yes, Chileans with roots here now.

Many have married Italians,
have Italian children, etc.

It's hard to tell if the people
who have lived here so long

are Chilean or Italian.

We're both now.

We've always said we are rich
because we have

two national identities.

I am Chilean by birth,

with a country that treated me
like a stepfather would.

Chile was a wicked stepfather for me.

And Italy has been a mother,

generous and supportive.

I arrived, as an exile, in a country

that was new to me in many ways.

The country of the partisan war,

the country that had defended workers...

It seemed to me that I had truly...

arrived in a country that resembled
Allende's dream, at that time.


I travel in Italy and see that it
increasingly resembles Chile,

the worst aspects of Chile.

We are all caught up
in a society of frantic consumerism.

You don't give a damn about others.

If you can crush them, you do.

It's a rat race.


Subtitles by Ian Burley

Subtitling: HIVENTY