After nine in the morning of September 11, 1973, Salvador Allende addressed the Chilean people through Radio Magallanes. They were his last words, shortly after he was assassinated in the same Palacio de la Moneda. “I am certain that my sacrifice will not be in vain (…). I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this bitter moment, live knowing that much sooner rather than later, the great malls will open again, where the free man passes to build a better society. Long live Chile!”
“Boric, you are the man who opened the great avenues.” With this phrase and with her gaze fixed on the president of Chile, Gabriel Boric, the Nicaraguan writer Gioconda Belli opened this Saturday an emotional Tribute to Salvador Allende at Casa de América, in Madrid, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Augusto Pinochet’s coup and in memory of the victims of the dictatorship that plunged Chile into darkness.
Allende had spoken that fateful morning in 1973 to the Chileans, now 50 years ago. He told them that he would return freedom, he asked them not to stop the fight and he promised them that those guilty of breaking democracy would pay for it. A speech that was interrupted several times by the succession of atrocious events that were taking place at those moments, a speech that went down in history and is still remembered.
Gioconda Belli inaugurated this Saturday an emotional tribute to Salvador Allende at the Casa de América, in Madrid
Amid cheers and applause, Boric had entered the hall shortly before Belli’s words. Gabriela Mistral Auditorium of the House of America. “Boric, friend, the people are with you”, was heard among the public, where there was no shortage of relatives of the disappeared with the photograph of their loved ones hanging around their necks. Everyone stood up, in front of a stage dominated by a poster with the mythical glasses of Salvador Allende and the legend Chile, Memory: Future 50 years after the coup.
The young president Boric seemed, at times, a resurrected Allende. “The vicissitudes of politics have blocked me and I have not been able to cry for almost three years, and you are about to break it,” he admitted emotionally. And it was not for less because of everything he heard from his companions.
With Gioconda Belli, Boric melted into a spontaneous hug, without protocols. Even the poet was caught off guard when she came down from the stage. The Nicaraguan had thanked him for being a great democrat and a great socialist for having recognized that the regime of Daniel Ortega violates human rights And he’s not a Democrat. And it is that Belli has even been stripped of her nationality, despite the fact that she was a guerrilla and an important figure during the Sandinista revolution.
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero: “Memory makes us be and understand a species called human”
“To people like me, who have suffered from the Ortega regime, you have supported us. It is a hope that there are symbols of the left and that they are a light in the region (…). You, within youth, have memory,” Belli remarked.
The Nicaraguan poet, who settled in Spain after being expelled from her country, was followed by the former president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapaterowho, in reference to a Joan Manuel Serrat sitting in the audience –waiting for his turn–, he stated: “Today may be a great day, but it is already a great morning of dignity and pride”.
After different allusions to Allende’s speech and continuous nods to Serrat’s songs, Rodríguez Zapatero addressed Boric: “Chile gave us the figure of Allende to the world and I am infinitely grateful for being invited to this event” because “memory makes us be and understand to a species called human”.
Joan Manuel Serrat, on the coup against Allende: “They were hard days and of great concern”
Zapatero said openly that the Pinochet dictatorship “was consented to by the international community” and commented that “only the day we can convert the species into a single humanity, we will be able to begin to think that the free man walks through the great malls”, in another nod to Allende.
In a casual conversation, which had the format of an original and unpublished interview between Boric and Serrat, the Catalan singer-songwriter explained to the President of Chile how he met the poet Pablo Neruda in Isla Negra, with whom, he explained, he talked about the figure and work of Miguel Hernandez. He also explained that his first visit to Chile was in 1969, when there was only hope, and He recalled how he lived the news of the coup d’état.
“The Chilean socialist path was making its way. Despite the fact that there were fascist attacks and saber rattling in the barracks, I I never thought it could happen [el golpe], nor how it happened, nor do I think that Allende came to see that reality. He would not have fallen into the trap of appointing Pinochet as head of the Army. That September 11 I was in Madrid, recording, I couldn’t believe it. Were hard days and great worry for the people he loved and many other people who were locked in that trap”.
Serrat acknowledged that he knew the music of purple vine and Victor Jara after death, but since then they have been part of his life. “My knowledge of Chile precipitated after the 1973 coup,” acknowledges Serrat, insisting that, even so, these Chilean artists had “an extraordinary influence” in his trajectory.
Boric presented commemorative medals to Joan Manuel Serrat and Baltasar Garzón
In the tribute, Boric presented two commemorative medals for the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Salvador Allende to Joan Manuel Serrat, for accompany the Chilean people with his music during the last decades, already Balthazar Garzonfor contributing to changing the history of the Chilean people with the arrest warrant issued in October 1998 against Augusto Pinochet, when the dictator was in London.
The master of ceremonies, the Chilean actress Francisca Gavilanchoked several times, but cried when he presented the former judge of the National Court to present him with the medal: “The people of Chile will be eternally grateful to Judge Baltasar Garzón,” he said between sobs.
Boric then told Garzón: “Thank you for the eternal fight for justice,” and the decorated man replied: “For me it was an honor to join the history of Chile. That day I made a decision that was the only one that could and should be taken.No matter what might happen, thousands of people were waiting for him“. Immediately afterwards, Garzón dedicated the medal to Juan Guzman Tapia (the first Chilean judge who prosecuted Pinochet and already deceased). The auditorium broke into applause.
The tribute was also peppered with music. ismael serrano was the featured artist and commented that “in times of uncertainty, songs are tremendously useful. We must not give up battles that are still in dispute“. He then sang I remember you Amandaby Víctor Jara, and continued with I came from the North, dedicated to the new Chile. More applause and emotions.
The tribute was also attended by Irene Montero, Ada Colau and Sergio Ramírez, in addition to others and other guests
Boric did not forget the cultural, intellectual and industrial contribution made by the Spaniards who arrived in Chile and made special mention of the more than 2,000 republicans who landed in Valparaíso in Winnipeg at the end of the Civil War: “Our country will never forget the lesson of solidarity and love of those who crossed the Atlantic and will always be with us“, he stressed.
The tribute was also attended by the Minister of Equality, Irene Montero; the ambassadors in Madrid of Argentina, Colombia and Bolivia, among other Latin American countries; the former mayoress of Barcelona, Ada Colau; the writer Sergio Ramirez and the former Ibero-American Secretary General Enrique Iglesiasin addition to others and other guests.
Rodríguez Zapatero summed up the act thus: “A speech by Allende, a song by Serrat and you, Boric, is enough to open the new avenues.”