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September 11

March 23, 2006

Elena Huegel - Chile

In Santiago, Chile, on September 11th, 1973, the presidential palace was bombed and their democratically elected government was overthrown. The president, Salvador Allende, died in the coup and dictator Augusto Pinochet began a reign of terror, rounding up all "dissidents" and herding them into the National Stadium, where they were tortured, shot and buried in mass graves. During the next several years, many college students, professor, artists and musicians were arrested, tortured and assassinated or jailed.

 

SEPTEMBER 11

A play about two countries' experiences of September 11th

In Santiago, Chile, on September 11th, 1973, the presidential palace was bombed and their democratically elected government was overthrown. The president, Salvador Allende, died in the coup and dictator Augusto Pinochet began a reign of terror, rounding up all "dissidents" and herding them into the National Stadium, where they were tortured, shot and buried in mass graves. During the next several years, many college students, professor, artists and musicians were arrested, tortured and assassinated or jailed.

Pinochet was able to gain power with the support of covert operations of the U.S. military. Recently, new evidence suggests that U.S. military planes were used in the bombing of La Moneda, the presidential residence. And U.S military ships waited on the shores of Playa Ancha to invade Chile, if the coup failed.

Usually there are numerous protest marches against the dictatorship and its disregard to human rights along with the United States involvement in the happenings on September 11th in Chile. This year, there were prayer vigils instead.

Two women, one a Chilean and one an American, stand facing different directions...

A- American woman speaks C-Chilean woman speaks

A.        I was an ordinary woman.
C.        I was an ordinary woman.

A.        Who lived a normal life.
C.        Who lived a normal life.

A.        My husband carpooled to work. I shopped at the mall.
C.        My husband rode the bus to work. I made my own clothes.

A.        I waited in long lines at the check out counter in the grocery store.
C.        I waited in long lines at the bakery for the daily rationing.

A.        I took my children to baseball games, movies, and
            amusement parks.
C.        I watched my children play with a rag ball in the street.

A.        Then one morning...
C.        Then one morning...

A.        I heard a plane fly by very low overhead.
C.        I heard the planes take off from the military base.

A.        And watched with horror as it crashed into a building
            downtown.
C.        And suddenly heard explosions downtown.

A.        I ran inside and turned on the TV.
C.        I ran inside and turned on the radio.

A.        Panic immobilized me as another plane crashed into the
            second tower.
C.        My heart stopped as our President spoke his last words 
            before the transmission went dead.

A.        Fire engulfed the towers as they collapsed in a cloud of dust
            that burst over the city.
C.        Gunfire erupted as the troops began to search and scourge
            through the city.

A.        Somehow I know my man will never come home.
C.        Little did I know my man would never come home.

A.        With my cell phone in my hand, I waited. My flicker of hope
            faded with the sunset.
C.        I waited more than 25 years with hope at each sunrise.

A.        He disappeared with so many others in the flames and the
            rubble.
C.        He disappeared with so many others who were herded into the
            stadium.

A.        Why do they hate us?
C.        Who are our enemies?

A.        Faceless ghosts flitting in and out and leaving terror in their
            wake.
C.        What did we do to them that they should do this to us?

A.        They lived in our towns, went to our schools, hijacked our
            planes, and killed our people.
C.        They bought out our newspapers, infiltrated our military, flew the
            planes they sold us, and incited the killing.

A.        How dare they attack the heart of our country and destroy our
            symbols of freedom, economic stability, and democracy?
C.        How dare they attack the heart of our country and destroy the
            presidential palace, symbol of freedom, popular suffrage, and
            democracy?

A.        Our military leaders brought to their knees by violence at the
            door of their stronghold.
C.        Our military leaders kneeling before them as their ships lay
            waiting off our coast.

A.        And my man never came home.
C.        And my man never came home.

A.        And I know fear as a weight settling in the pit of my stomach.
C.        And fear became a pit I struggled to climb out of.

A.         I dared not open the mail afraid of death in an envelope
C.         I dared not open the door afraid of death in plainclothes.

A.         I dared not send my children to summer camp afraid of
             airplanes and airports.
C.        I dared not let my children play outside afraid of tanks,
             tear gas, random shootings.

A.        Deep inside I barely survive, alone and afraid.
C.        Deep inside, for many years, I barely survived alone and afraid.

A.        Hate is one step behind fear.
C.        Hate was one step behind fear.

A.        Today, I want them to hurt as badly as I did.

C.        28 years later, I watched them hurt as badly as I did. 
            (She looks over at the American woman.)

A.        I think I could never forgive them. (crumples to the ground.)
C.        I thought I could never forgive them. (Touches the back of the
           American woman who looks up at her, then extends her hand
           to help her to her feet.)

A.        I am an American woman. (lights a match)
C.        I am a Chilean woman.  (lights a match)

A.        And my life changed on September 11th, 2001.
C.        And my life changed on September 11th, 1973.

                        (Both light a candle together.)

****The last words of Salvador Allende, before the radio communication was cut off were:

My words are not spoken in bitterness, but in disappointment. There will be a moral judgment on those who have betrayed the oath they took as soldiers of Chile. They have the might and they can enslave us, but they cannot halt the world's social processes, not with crimes, nor with guns. May you go forward in the knowledge that, sooner rather than later, the great avenues will open once again, along which free citizens will march in order to build a better society. Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers! These are my last words, and I am sure that this sacrifice will constitute a moral lesson, which will punish cowardice, perfidy and treason.

by  Elena Huegel, June 4th, 2002

Shalom,

Elena Huegel
Elena Huegel is a missionary with the Pentecostal Church of Chile (IPC).  She serves as an environmental and Christian education specialist.



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