A festival commemorating 50 years since the bloody military coup in Chile led by General Augusto Pinochet will be held at Machynlleth, in mid-Wales, on the weekend of 16th-17th September. It will celebrate the richness of Chilean culture which flourished under the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende from 1970 to 1973, and continued by way of resistance after the world’s first elected Marxist government was overthrown with the clandestine connivance of Henry Kissinger and the CIA.
There will be panel debates on the achievements of the Popular Unity government, and the 50 years of solidarity and resistance to the coup and the dictatorship that followed - as well as looking to the future of Chile and its progressive well-wishers. Speakers will include Chilean exiles, second generation Chileans born in Britain, Jeremy Corbyn MP and Chilean academic and commentator Francisco Domínguez. There will also be workshops on the Chilean ‘new song’ movement, legendary singer and songwriter Victor Jara - a victim of Pinochet’s torturers - and Chile’s two Nobel Prize-winning poets, Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda. Commemorations will include one by ‘EcoMemoria’, a Chilean group that has planted thousands of trees to honour Pinochet’s victims.
A film programme includes two recent offerings from Latin American cultural organisation Alborada: ‘Santiago Rising’ and ‘The Culture Train’, which recounts Popular Unity’s initiative to take art and poetry by rail up and down the length of the country. There will also be a showing of ‘Compañero’, a classic film about the life and death of Victor Jara featuring a moving interview with his widow Joan shortly after she and her daughters escaped into exile.
On the Saturday evening renowned Latin musicians the Frida Violeta Band and Grupo Luma will headline a lavish line-up of Latin American dance and political folk music, aided by the Dyfi Samba Band and DJ Pablo Navarrete.
Tickets for the festival cost £25 (low waged / concessions) or £35 (standard) - £40 solidarity (thanks!). There is also a £15 weekend ticket for 13 – 17yr olds. Tickets are available on line from the festival website: www.elsuenoexiste.com
The festival is being staged by ‘El Sueño Existe’ (The Dream Lives On), a group of volunteers and Latin aficionados centred on the town of Machynlleth. A full-scale festival usually takes place every two years - the next one will be held in August, 2024 - but it was felt that the 50th anniversary of the Chilean coup, with all its attendant tragedy and the cultural flourishing that occurred either side of it in the most challenging of circumstances, couldn’t be allowed to pass without being commemorated - not least as a tribute to the many Chilean exiles who have enriched the cultural and political life of this country.