The Nightmare is not Finished

Ximena Gautier Greve
By Ximena Gautier Greve

I was very young when, in order to save my life, I had to take the road of exile carrying the essentials in one hand, while walking to the plane, after awful negotiations with the military band  who had seized the University and the country. I felt how my life was broken, and when I let go of everything I loved and had been part of my life, I felt as if my flesh were opening causing a huge wound, without cure.

I was not the only one and today it is said that we are more than one million Chileans who form that cloud of exiles dispersed abroad.

The little children who were already born, innocent children whose persecution found justification in ours, were also part of the diaspora. They also lost family, friends, teachers, schoolmates. Even in their little hearts was broken that part of the immortal being that we carry inside.

There were also many people who died in torture or in criminal shootings. Because murdering innocents, that is the definition of crime. This was what happened in Chile during the military dictatorship of Pinochet and the pseudo presidency of the dictator.

The bodies of thousands of compatriots have disappeared, and only today do we know - after painful investigations in which Justice is hindered at every step - that they were thrown to the bottom of wells, and of mining furnaces, buried superficially in the desert, or thrown into the sea from helicopters, tied to train rails so that they would not float, or machine-gunned on bridges and dropped into the river, or bound to explosives, or burned alive with gasoline. The atrocities are known today, because each one of those tortured has delivered his message: remains of bones that deliver the sands of the desert, which the relatives dig, crossing it in processions, marking desperate landmarks.

Today more than four decades have passed since the bombing of the seat of government in 1973 and the government is civil and elected at the polls. And we many come back to visit our past, which, as everyone knows, is impossible. To bury people that illuminated our youth or the militancy of that time. Some return to stay and die, because our generation has grown old. Others return to go across the country, trying to find something lost forever.

But in all cases the finding is the same. As we have spent the last forty years in democratic countries, we inevitably see the enormous difference with ours. And without agreeing, we comment the same. To return to Chile is unavoidably to find itself with a sick country, with a false democracy, with sketches of ill-defined political parties that are not what they appear to be, with people who do not say what they think and that avoids committing itself in a public expression, because every time they do, they are punished with a repression that does not detract to the one practiced in times of the dictatorship.

In this country that had the highest recognized cultural levels of all Latin America, today is decadence and impoverishment. The collapse of education can be observed in conceptual poor quality of spoken expression. The education that was a privilege of the State, was placed under the greedy and weak hand of incapable municipalities. The University of Chile, one of the most powerful in the South American continent, was dismantled and its budgets cut in an infamous way.

The culture has turned into a caricature way. I attended well-funded « Conferences of Culture » in which people vegetate in that they do not support the expression of popular needs in terms of education and health, nor do they support social poetry and prefer verses such as "the birds are cute in the branch », chaired by landownings and the wives of wealthy industrialists. At the same time, budget and facilities were denied to activities that were really meaningful. As I expressed my opinion in the sense that the few true children of Orpheus, who survive harsh conditions and without recognition in the country, should not attend such parodies of culture, my Chilean quality was denied.

The last feat of Chile’s customs was the destruction of the instruments of a Colombian folkloric ensemble. Thinking to obey the prohibition of entering animals and seeds into the country, they split the leathers of the drums and destroyed the maracas that use seeds to produce their sound. The orchestra could not act in the Festival to which it was invited. This nonsensical vandalism derives from the current state of prevailing cultural barbarism

Public Health is scandalously precarious. The Public Hospitals do not have adequate budget and its buildings seem to be falling. To see a doctor, you have to wait for months, and many times when it's your turn, it's too late.

But the worst thing is some people. Everywhere you can breathe the decomposition of a culture that was great and today does not have enough moral values. Corruption and mediocrity are installed at all levels. The impunity of the dictatorship’s crimes, seems to expand like a slime on the establishment of Chilean society. Increasingly enthroned in the country, governs the continuation of the neoliberal project imposed by the dictatorship and is what governs a society alienated with a perverse fiction: the illusion of democracy.

The most qualified people appear to have no work at  various levels of society, because they have been marginalized by the prevailing mediocrity. The mediocre dominate with all their moral defects and all their inabilities and their job is to destroy the social spaces that can save some reality. Ignorant people assume functions at all levels and you can see things like installing an upside-down bridge, that is to say that instead of rising to let boats pass, it curves into the water ... The administration overflows with this type of mediocrity. In the meantime talented and prepared people have no job.
The issue of immigrants is a prickly problem. They have endeavored to bring unqualified Colombians, Central American Haitians and Dominicans without professional backgrounds. The first result is that Chilean prostitution has been displaced by both sexes prostitution. Those who manage to find some kind of unskilled labor, are exploited at levels of slavery, with full working day of 14 hours or more, without humanly acceptable accommodations, poorly paid, deceived, especially Haitians who do not speak Spanish and do not understand anything. They fall into a circle of greed, corruption and exploitation and are despised by the Chileans who blame them for drug sales. Besides immigrants are tricked by the "small letter of contracts" in which fraud dominates.

Many psychiatrists have already diagnosed Chilean society as schizophrenic. Actually, it's worse. Chile is a country whose soul is sick. Some murder occurs every day. The country has a record of family violence and femicide, many of them are practiced by members of the police towards their cohabiting partners or their spouses.

I really hoped that, after almost 30 years of the end of the dictatorship and its Terror, my country would show important social progress, but it is not and since I returned from Chile after my poetic September - October- 2016 tournée, I feel that Chile stayed like a whipping top, spinning in the void. I met a lot of good people, but I also took the pulse of people with openly fascist opinions, happily circulating as opinion owners.

Now, in January 2017, during the last 17 days the whole country has turned into a forest fire. The whole country burned for more than a week from Valparaiso to Osorno. The government has only begun to react in the last  days. There are no water tanker planes and international aid providing some super water tank airplanes has had to bid five days before being accepted, while the country was consumed in flames. It is absolutely extraordinary: the outbreak of fires practically throughout all the country at the same time. I think this is therefore explained by so much evil prevailing in Chile, where criminals circulate freely in the streets and the best of the country is subjected to constant repression and punishment.

The use of water says it all: government have thousands of tank trucks (‘guanacos’) with strong water cannons to suppress the student protests . A ‘guanaco’ has better water pressure than a fire hose pipe. Volunteer firefighters are not paid, and they pay for the equipment themselves! There is not water in the fire hydrant and their water lances look like hoses to water plants. Consequence: heroic men with operetta equipment.

Monoculture forestry multinationals are not human. Pines and eucalyptus dried out the sources and groundwater. It is the death of water. The poisoned land is destined to give money, money, money. There is no love for that poor Chilean land. The men of the land (Mapuche) are besieged, imprisoned, murdered. The forest of the endemic variety is fast disappearing in flames.

The country is cursed. Cursed by the blood of Chileans. And now cursed by the fires. First, they depopulated. Now deforest! They say that the fire purifies. We only have tears left.

My poor country of multinationals, of greed, corruption, collusion and treason, now is burning... What are they projecting now? Is that why they were annoyed by the poor Mapuche, attached to the lands and trees? And what about all the endemic flora and fauna that is perishing: the foxes, rabbits, deer, swans, hawks, all kinds of birds of singing meadows or not.

What was that Chile of famous and leading men? What happened to their cultivated population?
In reality Chile is a trap and it is not advisable to have illusions with the future of the country.
Ximena Gautier Greve, French Chilean poet