By Kathy Price
Kathy Price leads AI Canada’s campaigning on human rights issues in Latin America.
It has come to be known as “the other 9-11” – an infamy that changed the face not only of Chile but of Canada too.
September 11 marks 40 years since a bloody military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet in Chile overthrew the democratically-elected socialist government of President Salvador Allende. The US-backed coup installed a brutal military dictatorship, unleashing years of vicious repression against anyone suspected of supporting Allende. Thousands were tortured, disappeared or murdered. The persecution, in turn, forced thousands of refugees to seek a safe haven in Canada, enriching the fabric of countless communities.
I was a communications student at McGill University at the time and a new member of the university’s Amnesty International group. My introduction to the terror that was transforming Chile’s democracy came via an encounter I have never forgotten. As part of a university video project, I interviewed a newcomer to Montreal; Bernabe Videla Torres, a refugee from Chile.