On the 50th anniversary of the Civil/Military Coup d'état in our country, PEN Chile publicly expresses its repudiation of that act of extreme violence, which pretended to resolve the conflicts that were expressed in our society.
The dictatorship established thereafter relentlessly and systematically violated human rights, restricted freedom of the press by closing all antagonist media outlets, and also reduced the possibility of expressing opinions and thoughts in all their forms. This seriously damaged the development of the arts, culture in general and literature in particular, subjecting the country to a morass with official versions and Manichean visions of society.
This produced a deep break, both at the institutional level and in families and organizations. Today we remember that PEN Chile of those times also suffered a painful internal break. The then leaders of the organization not only remained silent, but also denied the violations of human rights that were taking place in our country, which caused the momentary suspension of PEN Chile by PEN International, a situation that managed to revoke a new group of leaders once democracy was recovered. In 2016, PEN Chile issued a “Mea Culpa” statement that was publicly presented at the PEN International Congress.
We hope that those situations of silence, complicity or denial will never be repeated in Chile and that those who have reproduced them will carry out a plainspoken act that honors those who may have made a mistake, such as asking for forgiveness, declaring the error, making amends by giving information, if available, to those who require it and commit to never again repeat, whether actively or passively, situations that violate human rights and the dignity of people.
It should not be forgotten that the dictatorship banned people, words and ideas, to the point of making them unpronounceable.
Violating freedoms of thought and expression is depriving others of their most essential nature. It denies them and ignores their most intimate humanity and legitimacy, banishing them to a flat, opaque world, without volume or color.
Every time this freedom and its expressions were violated, human beings limited themselves and obscured their times.
PEN International promotes and defends throughout the world the emancipatory and creative drive for freedom of expression in all its forms, as a Universal Human Right.
Literature and all forms of art allow us to reach new cultural horizons, grow as a species and contribute to the era and the life that inhabits and surrounds us.
For PEN Chile, preserving and restoring memory, rescuing the buried facts about these serious violations and doing justice are the primary elements for a true reconciliation process in the construction of a healthy social order open to the future, which banishes the abuse of power and violence as a form of conflict resolution, in order to install Life in all its expressions as central value of civilization work.
Santiago, Chile, 11 September 2023.