On 11th September 1973, right-wing leaders of Chile’s security forces deposed the democratically elected government of Dr Salvador Allende, in a CIA-backed coup d'état.
A seventeen-year brutal dictatorship followed, headed by General Pinochet, which imprisoned, tortured, executed, and ‘disappeared’ thousands of people, forcing many more to be exiled.
The display features several objects made by Sergio Vasquez while he was detained in Melinka and Tres Alamos prison camps. Those detained shared craft techniques and used items such as coins and bones, brought by family members. Small, home-made looms were used for weaving textiles, which were sold to raise funds for prisoners.
Within days of the coup, activists in the UK set up solidarity groups to support the Chilean cause. In Sheffield, the local labour movement, university students/lecturers and activists led the efforts to denounce the atrocities and support those fleeing persecution.
Sheffield received approximately 300 Chilean refugees. Some of those who arrived in the city had been political prisoners, many of which had been ‘adopted’ by local activists across the UK.
For more information, see https://chile50years.uk/
Acknowledgments: Sheffield Libraries and Archives, Sergio Vasquez, Ana-Maria Pizzarro, Maureen Storey, Maria Vasquez-Aguilar (Chile Solidarity Network), Student Action for Chile Human Rights.