Book Launch: Chileans exiled in Australia

chileans in australia_Page_1

Following a successful launch of the book VUELO LAN CHILE NO 1131 in 2007, Marcial Parada has edited a book with personal stories of political exiles in Australia after the military coup in Chile on 11 September 1973.

Launch of ‘Chileans Exiled in Australia’ edited by Marcial Parada and translated by Paul Vellacott.

Welcome everybody to the launch of ‘Chileans Exiled in Australiaedited by Marcial Parada and translated by Paul Vellacott.

Before we launch the book, I wish to say that this is aboriginal land – Jagera on this side of the river and Toorbul on the other side. The first nations people never ceded Sovereignty over this land and signed no treaty. One British commander, Captain Logan, was speared through the head by an aboriginal warrior after the redcoats attacked their camp not that far from here. And the British hung the aboriginal warrior Dundali in front of the Post Office in the 1850s

Proud Dundali, born in Blackbutt he put up a fight for fourteen years  uniting all the tribes against the gubba  So they broke his legs and hung him from scaffold at Post Office Square like a poor convict as his people cried out wailing from Tower Mill.  Up here in Moreton colony we remember Dundali with a smoking ceremony each year in Post Office Square on 5th January – the day he was hung.

I wish to pay my respects to the traditional owners of this land and hope that our aboriginal brothers and sisters will achieve social justice and win their struggle for land rights particularly in the Battle for Musgrave Park just down the road from here.

I have known Marcial Parada and the translator of Chileans Exiled in Australia, Paul Vellacott for a long time. I first met Marcial when I lived in West End in the early 1980s – Marcial has always been active in left-wing, union and political struggles and I regard him as a close comrade and friend. I have known Paul Vellacott mainly through our activities in printing and publishing through LeftPress Printing Society. Paul and I trained together in offset printing at the old Kangaroo Point TAFE and it is great to see how Paul has added another string to his bow by translating from Spanish to English this fascinating account of Chileans fleeing the Pinochet military dictatorship in Chile and finding a home here in Australia.

I have not read the entire book yet but have found the half dozen stories I have read absorbing and interesting politically. I wish to thank Paul for giving me a brief précis of some of the stories.

In Chileans exiled in Australia, Marcial has given us a full account of his life both in Chile and here in his new home. Starting with his involvement with Salvador Allende’s first attempt at the presidency in 1954, Marcial describes Allende’s electoral victory in 1970 with Unidad Popular – a coalition of the Socialist and Communist and other radical parties. In some ways this move to the Left was mirrored here in Australia with the election of the Whitlam Labor government in 1972. As many here will remember, the military crushed the government of Salvador Allende in the coup of 1973 assisted by the United States and George Bush Senior in particular who was head of the CIA at the time. Marcial went underground but managed to depart Chile in 1976 with 31 families. This led to a life here in Australia and new struggles. Later Marcial did return to Chile with his partner Marilyn whom we miss.

There is the story of Carmen who was placed on the dictatorship’s black list and denied work in Chile as a result of her active support for the Allende government, Carmen and her partner fled to Australia.  Carmen’s story is that of a strong person who overcame language and other barriers here and was able to help people here in Australia as a social worker.

Jorge spent eleven years actively resisting the dictatorship, eleven years of struggle which left him and his wife exhausted and so despairing of ever having a normal life in Chile again that they came to Australia seeking a better future for their children.

Wuilo’s story is that of someone who, after actively resisting the Pinochet regime, came to Australia for a better, safer life only to suffer an industrial accident which has restricted him. Marcial has assisted his friend in his struggles with the authorities.

Unfortunately Norma died two years ago and so is not here to see her story in print.  Norma had two setbacks in her early life – a serious road accident as a teenager which left her in a coma and not long after a her long recuperation the death of her mother.  It was this event which prompted Norma to become a nurse.  Denied work after the coup, Norma and her husband Vicente came to Australia in 1974 and her story is an account of a woman who worked in menial jobs before being accepted as a trained nurse.

Mirta was a champion basketballer in Chile and after arriving in Australia with her husband and children, Mirta continued playing and spent 23 years with the Bluebirds club in Ipswich. Mirta’s skill and courage is demonstrated by the many trophies she has.

I particularly liked the story told by Juliano who as an 8 year old school boy returning home from school on the day of the coup in 1973 only to find his parents and his cousins burying a printing press beneath the floorboards of their house in the home. Because they were fearful that they would be dobbed into the military by neighbours they played the only long playing record they had in the house. It was Christmas Carols which played over and over while they buried the press – in September The press was to be used later to print leaflets to help organise against the dictatorship. Such were the weapons of struggle in those days.

Unfortunately some of the writers of the stories in this book could not be here today – they include Enrique Sotto from South Australia, Gustavo Marti from Canberra and Victor Marijenta. However we have their stories thanks to Marcial’s book.

I would like to call on others who know Marcial to say a few words and some of the contributors to come forward to speak. Later on Jumping Fences will play some songs including one of my favourites ‘Te Recuerdo Amanda’ by Victor Jara and we will have some food and refreshments while Marcial signs the books you purchase

I would just like to finish off by reciting these lines from the song that Sue will sing later:

I remember you Amanda
the wet street
running to the factory
where Manuel worked.
Your broad smile.
The rain in your hair
didn’t bother you because
you were going to find him,
The one that left for the mountains,
that never harmed anything,
that left for the mountains.
And in five minutes
he was destroyed.
The bell rings
calling them back to work
Many don’t go back
Neither does Manuel.

Companeros, la lutta continua!

Ian Curr
17 August 2013

With thanks to:

Paul Vellacott
Camillo Gutierrez
Juliano Peres
Jorge Cantellano
Carmen Luz Parra
Mirta Galvez
Ian McLeod
Lachlan Hurse
Dan O’Neill
Marcial Parada
Sue Monk and all the others who helped make this book lanch a success

Where: Electrical Trades Union hall, 41 Peel Street, South Brisbane.
When: 3pm, Saturday, 17 August 2013

I will interview Marcial on PShift (4ZZZ fm 102.1) at noon on Friday 2 Aug 2013.

Reference: Vuelo Lan Chile No. 1131

My worst moment: remember September 11th … 1973

A short story

The morning of 11th September 1973 will remain forever fixed in the memory of Julio Jorquera Muñoz.

Julio was a  maintenance fitter at Elecmetal one of the workplaces in the heavy industry sector under the supervision of the government and which was administered by a Workers’ Council. It was also the political centre of Cordón Vicuña Mackenna, an organization which brought together in one group all of the industries of that sector. This was in Santiago, the capital city of Chile.

When he arrived at work that morning the atmosphere was tense. The radios had announced that the Navy had taken the port of Valparaiso and were suppressing industrial centres and workplaces. Julio, a militant in the socialist party and a union leader, was on the director’s committee of Cordón Vicuña Mackenna.

He had good reasons for being worried as he had tried to contact his wife but communications by then were cut. Read more at http://workersbushtelegraph.com.au/2008/01/24/my-worst-moment-a-worker-remembers-september-11th-%E2%80%A6-1973/

“Te Recuerdo Amanda” by Victor Jara.
Te recuerdo Amanda
I remember you Amanda
la calle mojada
the wet street
corriendo a la fábrica
running to the factory
donde trabajaba Manuel.
where Manuel worked.
La sonrisa ancha
la lluvia en el pelo
no importaba nada
ibas a encontrarte con él
con él, con él, con él
son cinco minutos
la vida es eterna
en cinco minutos
suena la sirena
de vuelta al trabajo
y tú caminando
lo iluminas todo
los cinco minutos
te hacen florecer.

Te recuerdo Amanda
I remember you Amanda
la calle mojada
the wet street
corriendo a la fábrica
running to the factory
donde trabajaba Manuel.
La sonrisa ancha
la lluvia en el pelo
no importaba nada
ibas a encontrarte con él
con él, con él, con él
que partió a la sierra
que nunca hizo daño
que partió a la sierra
y en cinco minutos
quedó destrozado
suena la sirena
de vuelta al trabajo
muchos no volvieron
tampoco Manuel.

Te recuerdo Amanda
I remember you Amanda
la calle mojada
the wet street
corriendo a la fábrica
running to the factory
donde trabajaba Manuel
where Manuel worked.

Your broad smile.
The rain in your hair
didn’t bother you because
you were going to meet with him,
with him, with him, with him.
It was five minutes,
Life is eternal
in five minutes
The bell rings
calling them back to work
and you started walking
Those five minutes
illuminated everything-
they made you blossom.

I remember you Amanda
the wet street
running to the factory
where Manuel worked.
Your broad smile.
The rain in your hair
didn’t bother you because
you were going to find him,
him, him, him,
The one that left for the mountains,
that never harmed anything,
that left for the mountains.
And in five minutes
he was destroyed.
The bell rings
calling them back to work
Many don’t go back
Neither does Manuel.

I remember you Amanda
the wet street
running to the factory
where Manuel worked.

*”He left for the mountains” is a euphemism for saying he died

Queensland remembers Chile
In the late 1970s a small group of people gathered at the racecourse in rural Gatton in South-East Qld to remember what had happened to the people of Chile during the military coup in 1973. From LeftPress’s archival records I found this small remnant of super-8 footage of our re-enactment. The sound track contains Victor Jara’s song: “Te Recuerdo Amanda” [thnx claire].

[apologies for the poor recording]

Mercedes Sosa∻ Joan Baez sing Violetta Parra’s “Gracias a la vida”

What do you think about this article?