She was a three-year-old girl when Augusto Pinochet overthrew Salvador Allende and ended three years of socialist hope in Chile, her country. Ninth Fernandezwriter, playwright, look back, without anger but with concern, the possibility that this round anniversary is more current than memory. Well, his country will live it even with the dictator’s Constitution in full force.
The attempt of the current president, Gabriel Boric, from the left like Allende, to change that Constitution of the dictator, was left in the water without destination, and Now it is the heirs of the one who caused the misfortune of the dictatorship who administer the future of its laws. She is the author, among other books, of ‘The Twilight Zone’ (Random House), which starts from an event that is a metaphor, due to its cruelty, of the consequences of that coup. Her books are also ‘Mapocho’, ‘Chilean Electric’ or ‘Space Invaders’, all of them looking at the reality that she has lived.
From the perspective of that girl who lived through it and who continues to suffer from it, Nona Fernández deals with this moment with an eye on that drama that began with the coup and continues with the legacy that the dictatorship maintains in force in her country. For this time we ask him.
How do you see this moment that Chile is going through?
After a very important social revolt, a constituent process and the rejection of the Constitution that came out, and that was a tremendous defeat, perhaps because it was too innovative a project for a society as conservative as the Chilean one, after all this, I mean, it’s still hard to draw lucid conclusions. Because I feel that we are still in a very intense moment. We have a social democratic government whose mission would have been to implement the failed constitutional project, but now we are in the middle of another constitutional project that, unlike the previous one, is producing less enthusiasm, I think. The saddest thing is that most of the people who were chosen by the citizens to draft and implement the new project are conservative, I would even say very conservative, it could be said that they are similar to the Vox of Spain. They are the children of Pinochetism. I don’t know if it’s a bad joke or a bad joke: we want to change Pinochet’s Constitution with the children of Pinochetism. It is very bad news. We don’t know what’s going to come out of there, really. It’s brutal, it’s sad. It makes me very disconsolate.
It’s the return to the past, isn’t it?
Of course yes. It’s like a “civilizing” setback. It is something that forces us to reflect on how badly we remember, how badly we have set the limits… I think a lot about how ineffective the left has been to stop all this. And nothing is done! We see how it progresses and… there is no answer!
Is the dictatorship being reborn among young people?
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the military coup carried out by Pinochet and we are still governed by the Pinochet Constitution. So, of course, the dictatorship continues to be a daily reality. It is the script with which we execute our day to day. An attempt has been made to show all the horror that the dictatorship brought and, nevertheless, it seems that it has not been enough. In fact, when there is an economic crisis or a social crisis, the figure of the dictator is missed. Amazing, right? But that’s how it is. The youth is not clear about what happened, there is tremendous ignorance and that is why what is happening is happening and perhaps now a new Constitution worse than the one we have will emerge.
“In Chile, the dictatorship continues to be a daily reality”
At this moment everything can be possible. All. We had a democracy that was agreed with the military and much of what is happening now has to do with that agreement. Pinochet continued as commander-in-chief, then as a senator… That was Chilean democracy, in the shadow of the dictatorship. Today we are in a complex moment: we have a social democratic government that is being brutally boycotted by the economic right. This year, as I said, marks the 50th anniversary of the coup and one would expect that society, that all of society, would cry out that this should never happen again. But no, it’s not general. I think it has a lot to do with the impossibility of the left to organize well, en masse, against a ferocious enemy that is present in many countries around the world.
“Today we have a social democratic government that is being brutally boycotted by the economic right”
Well, the same thing is happening in Spain..
Yes Yes. Everywhere. It’s awful. Look: when the social revolt occurred, we thought it was the weariness of the dictatorship that was still present among us. But looking at the latest events, it seems not. It seems that there was no political feeling, now it turns out that the heirs of Pinochetism have been chosen to make the Constitution.
Does writing help you understand your country?
Writing is always a tool to understand. Or to try to understand. The processes are long and we will have to wait. I was just writing about the vocation of literature to record horror, madness, and violence throughout history. This is done in the hope of recording it so that atrocities do not happen again in the future. But it seems that we have failed. Homer failed, those who followed him failed, and yet I think we shouldn’t stop trying. Maybe it’s not enough. Because literature is just a field and what is required are public policies.
“Literature has a vocation to record horror, madness, and violence throughout history”
What was your reaction when you saw the referendum result?
It was a very sad reaction. The process was very fast, there was not a great campaign to publicize the Constitution, but there was a disinformation campaign on the part of the right, with many lies. I was working, door to door, against that. After the referendum, with that forceful “No”, it was a great blow.
Were you afraid or ashamed?
Neither fear nor shame. It made me very sad. She also made me very angry, really. It’s just… I don’t want to be afraid, Juan. Because fear defeats you. What I do have is a lot of discomfort, a lot of anger, a lot of sadness. I feel that the enemy is very powerful and that many have not realized it. For a long time we lived in an immovable reality and it was kind of easier to think and it seemed that everything was very predictable. Then democracy arrived and then the social revolt broke out. And from then until now it is very difficult to understand everything. It is difficult, but you have to try to think and understand. I’m on it. It is also important to record what happens because, if we don’t understand now, maybe in the future we will.
Writing saves you.
Always always. Absolutely. I feel that we are still in September 11, 1973, when the Palacio de la Moneda was left in rubble. We are still under that rubble. We haven’t dated, but I’m hopeful that we will. It’s a process, I know, and big changes are neither easy nor quick. This does not end with a referendum or a constituent process. This is the beginning, I say.
How does the writer get along with reality?
It is difficult for me to get out of reality, it is difficult for me to imagine a purely fictional novel, as I once wrote, because reality is very present. At times I would love to run away from this reality, but not right now. Here there was an impetus that requires great transformations and I hope it does not go out. I think a lot about the 38% who voted in favor of the Constitution, and now we all have to convince others.
What is inspiring you now to write?
Well, day to day. I already tell you: it is difficult for me to get out of reality. But the past also keeps summoning me. I think a lot about the debris of the Coin. I think of the 50 years of the military coup. That’s what I think about.
“If there were more affection in this country, perhaps we would not have the problems we are having”
You mention an expression of Salvador Allende before his faithful of the principles of his mandate: “More passion and more affection.” What would be a proclamation for Chile today?
how do i keep trashing [buscando elementos] In the past, I would take up one again: more affection and more passion. Because if there were more love in this country, maybe we wouldn’t have the problems we’re having. It would also raise another proclamation: never again. Never again a dictatorship.
He was born with the next blow, he saw it arrive when he was three years old. A time that seems to repeat itself. What postcard do you send to that childhood you lived as a girl with no past?
A postcard that I have here on my desk: the Palacio de la Moneda bombed. I think I have not come out of there. The children did not quite understand what was happening.
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