6/20- The Power of the Guide Book
I just finished the history section of the Chile Guide book and I’m reminded of a book called Paula by Isabelle Allende, the niece of Salvador Allende, that I read while living in South Korea. This book was about a woman who had survived the 1973 military coup of Pinochet and the ousting of Salvador Allende. It told of her experiences of working in education before becoming an author, meeting a man from California on one of her book tours in the U.S. and her eventual move to California. Her daughter Lisa had a medical emergency while living in Europe with her fiance and she had to come live with her mother until she passed away. It makes me emotional just thinking about the sadness of the story and it’s been two years since I read the book. I remember that the way citizens received news of what was happening during the coup was through the radio and neighbors who passed down information. Members of the Allende party who were being tortured and killed were often smuggled to safety by brave members of society. Those that assisted them and were caught were immediately dealt with, often with death, by the military forces under Pinochet. This must have been an incredibly difficult time for Chilean citizens. What strikes me after reading this history section is how the Chilean governments have changed. They seem to oscillate between authoritarian regimes and democratic ones- and sometimes others. It seems a very confusing and unstable political environment. How are Chileans supposed to have faith in their government when so many have tried various methods and many times failed?
Another interesting fact was that the first female president was elected in 2006, Michelle Bachelet, and was a socialist and this was a sure sign that Chilean citizens wanted a drastic change. She was in charge of increasing the evenness of income distribution since many citizens were upset with this disparity. Once she was elected, the school children protested that the education system needed more funding- these were the largest protests since the time of Pinochet and demonstrated the growing strength of the democratic system.