I had begun to realize that I was in a bit of a rut at this point, as nothing remotely interesting had happened today, besides for the usual: got up, breakfast, continuation of noun discussion in grammar class, empanada and Coke for lunch, etc. Conversation class was a bit more interesting as we had a discussion regarding the poems of Pablo Neruda, most notably his poem about the 5 Roots. I don’t remember the title, but the 5 Roots signify seasons and different times in Neruda’s life. After that, we had a discussion regarding humans rights, which was going to be connected to something we would do that evening.
After classes ended at 3:40, our class got together and walked to the metro, and after a line change, we ended up at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights. This was possibly one of the greatest historical sites in Chile, and a source of great controversy and painful memories for the people of Chile. Let me explain. During the 70’s, Chile was controlled by Agosto Pinochet, a cruel dictator that controlled the government and the forms of media for years, until he was removed from office and replaced by a democratic president through popular vote. During those years that Pinochet was in office, he made it a point to ensure that no one would question his rule or try to overthrow him, so he constructed torture camps where he would send anyone that he thought was trying to undermine him. It would happen without warning; a man or a woman could be walking home from work, when suddenly men in trench coats jump out of a passing car, bind their hands and gag them, drag them into the car, and speed away, never to be seen again. Over 34,000 people, or “Desaparecidos” (disappeareds), were kidnapped by the government during this time, and were either tortured into insanity or killed, depending on what the camp officials felt like. Now, the camps have all been destroyed, along with Pinochet’s rule, but the Museum stands as a testament to what happened, and contains artifacts and documents from that time as a way of saying, “Never let this happen again.” I can’t really summarize everything I saw inside the museum, but it was a very moving and painful experience for me as I realized what horrors these poor people had undergone at the whim of a twisted dictator. What is even worse is that, according to the map in the front of the museum, these things are still happening all over the world where dictators still hold the populace in an iron grip.
There isn’t much else I can say about today, except that I had chicken and rice for dinner. I think the only thing I can say is to pray for all of those people all over the world who still suffer under the oppressive rule of dictators who crush them under their boots and steal their undeniable human rights just to stay in power. Until next time, God bless and stay well.