Chileans in the Netherlands reflect on Pinochet’s coup 12:16 in Domestic, Abroad It is exactly 50 years ago that socialist President Allende committed suicide, after a coup led by General Pinochet. Many Chileans then fled to the Netherlands.

- Advertisement -spot_imgspot_img

NOS News
  • Nejifi Ramirez

  • Nejifi Ramirez

On September 11, 1973, fifty years ago today, General Augusto Pinochet brought a bloody end to the socialist government of President Allende in Chile. Then Prime Minister Den Uyl immediately invited about 200 refugees to come to the Netherlands. In the following years, about 2,000 Chileans came here.

How do they look back on their arrival in the Netherlands fifty years later and how do they look at Chile now?

Juan Heinsohn Huala

Juan Heinsohn Huala (65) – 46 years in the Netherlands

“I came to the Netherlands on February 22, 1977, when I was 20. My father was put in prison after the coup. It was only three years later that he was released and we were able to come to the Netherlands through a short stay in Buenos Aires.”

He has fond memories of the reception in the Netherlands. “There was a large group of volunteers and compatriots who had already fled waiting for us at Schiphol. We were then taken by bus to the Bijlmer where a fully furnished apartment on the fifth floor was waiting for us. The refrigerator was full of food and drinks. In the apartment we could finally live together as a family again in peace. A very different reception than you see now. That is why I have always worked as a volunteer to be able to show that humanity to refugees.”

It is difficult for Heinsohn Huala to see what the situation is like in Chile fifty years later. “There has been a terribly violent dictatorship for seventeen years and there is still a long list of missing people who have never been heard from again. A group of Chileans are fighting for justice for them and for a new constitution, but on the other hand there is Recently, an extreme right-wing group of Pinochet supporters has been campaigning to cover up things from the past. Fifty years later, the major dramas in the country have not yet been overcome.”

Renato Varga

Renato Vargas (75) – 48 years in the Netherlands

After the coup, Renato Vargas spent a number of years in prison in Chile because he was active in Allende’s party. “After three years I was released on the condition that I would leave the country. I was reunited with my wife on the plane to the Netherlands. We couldn’t wait to start our life together in the Netherlands.”

There was a lot of attention in the Netherlands for the Chilean refugees, so when they arrived at Schiphol, Vargas was immediately interviewed for the news. “In the hotel I saw myself on TV.” He knew nothing about the Netherlands at the time: “I only knew that it was one of the ‘low countries’.”

The couple arrived on December 30, 1975. “Because of the celebration of 700 years of Amsterdam, the city was beautifully decorated. We came from the driest area in the world, so the first days we walked through the rain and hail. What an experience! “

He has been to Chile before, after the end of the military dictatorship. But his children were already over 12 at the time. “They were real Amsterdammers, so we decided to stay in the Netherlands.” It is difficult for Vargas to see the current situation in Chile. “There is such a big gap between rich and poor. I have fought against it, but unfortunately it still exists.”

Laura Gallardo Torres

Laura Gallardo Torres (24) – born in the Netherlands

Gallardo Torres’ grandfather was arrested in October 1973 in his own home in front of his wife and children for believing in President Allende’s beliefs. “For my father, this was a very traumatic experience. He shouted at the soldiers to leave his father alone. He was powerless. My father recently told me this story. I could see that it still hurts him.”

For Gallardo Torres it feels like a movie, because she finds it difficult to imagine that people are capable of something like that. “The family was locked up, while my grandfather was abused and eventually taken away by General Pinochet’s soldiers.”

The family was reunited in 1977 on a plane to the Netherlands. Through the airplane window, the children saw their father boarding the plane in handcuffs, accompanied by two police officers.

“My generation is also confronted with these events every day. My family is therefore incomplete.” Gallardo Torres’ grandfather and grandmother returned to Chile after living in the Netherlands for ten years, when returning was possible again. “I didn’t grow up with my grandparents. It feels like a huge loss not to be able to share moments in my life with them.”

Gallardo Torres believes it is important to commemorate September 11. “So many bad things have happened that have scarred so many people for life. The only thing we can do is learn from history, because something like this should never happen again.”

  • From national trauma to hero: Pinochet continues to divide Chile
  • Chile makes new attempt to find out fate of missing Pinochet-era people
  • Chileans are voting en masse for a new constitution
  • Domestic

  • Abroad

Share article:

- Advertisement -spot_imgspot_img
Latest news
- Advertisement -spot_img
Related news
- Advertisement -spot_img