Goodbye Chile

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I now resume my account of the historical events in December 1989 and the outcome of a new and more promising period in the history of Chile. Waking up in Concepcion we were surprised by the Lucia singing by two of the swedish girls in the delegation. Lucia is celebrated on the 13th December in what is the darkest, gloomiest part of the year when the sun hardly shows up. In Chile however  it is summer in December!

The bus trip back to Santiago was done in the hottest conditions and after arrival we dragged ourselsves to a reception at the Swedish embassy where both member of Swedish parliament Hans- Göran Frank and journalist Anette Kullenberg were present.

Finally, the most awaited day came. It was now that the Pinochet dictatorship would start to be dismantled and replaced by democratic elected representatives. At the head of it all Patricio Aylwin who would also become president. 17 parties united behind the candidate in an electoral system designed not to allow centre and left parties to succeed. The largest parties in the Alliance (Concertacion por la Democracia) were the Christian democrats and left coalition PPD.

We visited many places where elections were taking place. Everything was going on peacefully and orderly. Night came. Our hotel was just in front of president Aylwin’s headquarters . It was all but easy to grasp all that was happening but I sensed that despite an orderly election many people were anxious that the process would not be carried through.

Next morning as we were being briefed on the outcomes of the election day we sensed a sticky smell. Teargas and water cannons were being used by police to scare off some demonstrators. Chile would from this day return to a slow normality building up a new hope.

As to us “swedes” it was time to leave, conscious that we had experienced historical moments in Chile but also in the rest of a new Latin America.

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At swedish embassy with Mr. Frank on background

The main event

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The main event of 1974 was on the 25th April. After years of resignation something out of the ordinary hit my country of Portugal and  enthusiasm grew on what future would lay ahead. Would the country become a democracy and would we end the war and pull out of the colonies?

Reports came in but they did not tell you much. The armed forces had made a coup and ousted the 48 year-old regime. This was done almost without casualties. There was an enormous expectation. I sensed it from far away and listened as often as I could to the radio, on a short wave wireless that had belonged to my father in law. Newspapers were welcome and delivered by my father. It was strange to see those places in Lisbon full of people expressing their joy while being part of history.

I could see pictures from the Carmo barracks where the prime minister Caetano negotiated his escape to Brazil. This place that I had been to so often as a kid and not far from where I lived. Then there was the gigantic marches of 1st May. Freedom had to be breath in and people were almost suffocating with the new breaths of fresh air.

Carnations were everywhere where simple soldiers became heroes of peace. I learned that a singer and songwriter had given the signal for the beginning of operations .  His name Zeca Afonso and the song Grandola. It was chosen by the military to be played as a signal that things were going well and according to plan. Who were these men in uniform? What was going to happen? Did they have a plan?

A Junta was formed to front the first anxieties and the call for information. A provisional government and President with monocle were appointed. Dates were set for general elections aiming at making a new constitution. Things happened fast and for my liking I would have been there myself to help on whatever was needed. So was not to be, but my return was now a clear possibility even if it would only be for a holiday.

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