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(Note: This tape was transcribed by Sarabeth Trujillo. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.)
Jones: I shall continue with the reading and commentary of Rolando Carrasaco’s Chile’s Prisoners of War. It has special significant meaning to us today in that Chile is beginning to feel the disruption of the labor class, the peasantry, the campasinos, the farmers. Chile is in a bad state of economic affairs. US America capitalism cannot keep the lids on all of the places that are bursting at the seams, demanding freedom.
Chapter 5: “The Day I Am No More, You Will Have to Take My Place.”
One by one we trot in with our hands on the back of our heads into the toilet, past occupied cubicles, past those we are not supposed to communicate with, to our places in the third cubicle. When your turn comes around, you step in, drawing in your neck, looking for the familiar spot. The upper left hand corner of the door should be aligned with the glass pane in the upper part of the main entrance. Once you have done that, you can see part of the neon sign over the shop between the sadum– stadium and Bernardo O’Higgins [phonetic] Avenue. You can see a tiny part of the street and the buses. From this vantage point, after a short wait, you can see them pacing to and fro with grave faces looking in the direction of the stadium. This is how we first saw our wives. (tape edit) They were looking for their missing husbands. They met– That meant that we were being looked for by those outside.
During these times that I’m having blood pressure problems – and I will come through – do not fear. I will maintain the symbol and the practice of protection. One thing I can do is read, to inform you, because if I read and commented and gave my own opinions as I did earlier today for several hours, if I did this for hours for days and weeks and years, some of you would not be educated. It’s important that we feel the spirit of suffering of our comrades, some still enduring as long as 15 years of torture in Africa and Uruguay, some still enduring torture at this moment. Some have fallen like Victor Jara.
This buoyed up by our spirits, those who made the discovery whispered the news to the others, our relatives were looking for us, our wives were outside the stadium. The same day the discovery was made, we tried to work out a kind of order of turns in using our periscope. The order was observed more or less until we had to abandon the idea. Too many people in the toilet threatened to give away the existence of our secret observation post– our secret observation post, the only way we could see if there was any hope that someone cared.
A dusk-to-dawn curfew was introduced, but we managed to keep our periscope secret. It supplied us with information about the outside world in the days that followed. We had spent several days and nights in the Estadio Chile, filling it to overflowing, the stands, the football pitch, the aisles, and the basements. After September 11, immediately after the military takeover and our arrest, we knew nothing about what was happening in the country. Nothing about our families and friends. Those of the detainees who knew one another tried to talk but confined themselves to discussing where and when they were arrested or when they were moved to the stadium. We had been brought to the Estadio Chile from many different detention concentration camp centers, where many detainees, yes, many detainees and the bodies of those killed remained, their stench-ridden bodies unmoved, even being eaten by maggots. We had similar stories to tell one another of what had happened to us on September 11. Some of the memories I have from other readings that I will introduce in this commentary, but most of it’s very, very precise that this writer gives. We had similar stories to tell one another of what had taken place on that awesome September 16, how our places of work had been surrounded by troops and carabineers, how they had pacified us with artillery fire, how the doors had been torn off their hinges, how they’d ordered us to put our hands on the back of our heads, come out and lie flat on the pavement face down, how they had stormed and wrecked everything and combed the area, how they had killed those who failed to respond to that first order to come out. USA Green Beret, Chilean secret police, both under the hire of USA monopoly capitalist. Barbarous fascists in North America that rule the world, how they’ve searched the rooms looking for so-called caches of arms that they knew did not exist, which they could later use to justify their takeover and the killings, how later men and women have been packed into army trucks like so many bales of maize, then ordered to disembark outside regimental barracks, where the first interrogation – that means questioning – sessions had been conducted, and the detainees – the prisoners, detainees mean prisoners – subjected to new humiliations. Everyone had been asked the same question: “Who hid the arms and where?”
The operation mounted by the military dictatorship, put in power by fascist USA, on September had a parallel aim, a joint aim that is: to stamp out potential pockets of resistance in the capital’s industrial districts. Looking at the workers in overalls, we could guess at the scope and significance of the wave of wholesale arrest. The Estadio Chile was packed full of detainees or prisoners in a matter of three days. Even at the early stage, we realized that those who could not be kept in the overcrowded detention centers, concentration camps, were taken to the Estadio Nacional. Industrial workers and other inhabitants of Santiago, the once-beautiful capital that had been purified of its slums, health clinics in every neighborhood provided by the wonderful sensitive president Dr. [Salvador] Allende, who’d been elected by the people on a Marxist-socialist platform. But now, the other inhabitants of Santiago were picked up by their arresters in their homes and were bundled off during the massive campaign of wholesale arrest, and Santiago was a city that looked like it had been warn-torn [war-torn] in– in shambles, like a Berlin or Warsaw in World War II. We were hunted by one question – haunted by it, I should say – how far would the disturbing developments on the eve of the military takeover or coup be allowed to go? (tape edit) The students who like us were sitting in the stands around the stadium, before they were taken here as detainees, had given up their free time each day to help get wheat to the flour mills and take the flour to the bakeries. Santiago was in the grip of a paralyzing strike by lorry owners, taxi owners, that had been supplied with CIA money to conduct their taxi strike. The highway running to the ports of San Antonio and Valparaiso on the Pacific coast, as well as the southern and northern sections of the Pan-American highway, were cut off for all practical purposes. (Tape edit) The columns of lorries – those are taxis and truckers – whose owners remained loyal to the popular unity government, could only break through to the capital, provided they were accompanied by soldiers and groups of armed workers. The enemy was trying to s– literally starve us out, and that’s why CIA money was poured into the trucker’s association, who had not really be– been trade union leaders at all, but part of the mun– military bosses and also under the direct pay of the US CIA. The workers who formed the bulk of the prisoners at the Estadio Chile had actively fought sabotage groups and strikers who were backed and egged on by the right wing. Santiago was almost entirely paralyzed, transport was a st– very grave standstill. The workers, however, were not deterred. The right wingers and their accomplices provoked disturbances and rioting in downtown San– Santiago, after dark they cut Provincial Avenue with a barricade of burning automobile tires.
Remember the cities and places in Chile. All of this is part of the comprehension that we must develop. As I said, if my throat is so terribly sore and I continue to talk, please listen. You will be required to know this information.
The hospitals were able to carry on, only thanks to the self-sacrificing efforts of the doctors and junior medical personnel (Pause) on the side of the left forces. The unauthorized strike by the medical profession resulted in many deaths at the ambulance stations and maternity homes. Much of the medical association was being paid off also by the CIA to conduct disruptive terror, just as the American Medical Association in the United States. The doctors are the worst fascists on earth, insensitive, all they care about is the dollar, and that’s why 19 of our people arrived here – now 21 – who had cancer and had undergone medical exams just two weeks earlier, but the doctors didn’t take time to find out what was wrong with our people.
For the poor, the strike was tantamount, equal to premeditated murder, and the doctors knew it. The right-wingers, the fascist[s] in Congress and in the Supreme Court tried to cover up the terror that had been launched. (tape edit) Was much talk about the Constitution in the factories and plants, the workers overcoming physical exhaustion, worked in three shifts, production was kept going, and distribution went on much as usual. So on the surface there was a spreading mist of chaos, while beneath it the workers calmly got on with the job. How long we would be able to hold out in these impossible conditions, and from which quarter salvation would come, we did not know. While we were trying to sort things out, the military decided to strike. Soldiers burst into factories and plants, looking for non-existent arms. The law on control over the possession of arms was a legal cover-up invented by the right-wingers in Congress, and the right-wing as you know, and Newsweek and Time Magazine have said, are taking over the United States rapidly too in Congress and amongst the people. The law in control of the possession of arms was a legal cover-up, and that thing– that same cover-up is beginning in the United States, the registering of firearms. And (Unintelligible word) supported by the right wing leaders and the military dictatorship or the coup or takeover is step by step, they seize control of the key positions in the country’s armed forces. Ousting the socialist and liberal patriots in the forces, they sowed confusion among the workers, disorienting them – getting them confused, that means – they befuddled the minds of their fedel– fellow servicemen, urging them to revert – go back to, that is – to the infamous horrible tradition of persecuting and killing of the poor. The putchists, P-U-T-C-H-I-S-T-S, were careful to draw a line of distinction between those in military uniform and their fellow countrymen in work clothes. Armed forces personnel, whose supreme Commander-in-Chief was the President of the republic, guarded the parking lots full of idle lorries, trucks, idle because their owners were on strike, backed up by CIA money, some of them got nothing for it, too ignorant to realize that they were playing into the hands of the US imperialist in North America. Instead of making them put their lorries or trucks to work, instead of commandeering them as they should’ve done, complying with their duty, they guarded them. Yes, that is exactly what happened, and the putchists, the military putchists, were gaining ground, those that wanted to overthrow the socialist democracy, winning the upper hand like card sharps playing marked cards, like swindlers, gangsters, skillfully shirking their duty.
That’s why we do believe that those who recommend, as the Red Brigade, that you have to have activism, cannot believe in democratic change. Chile proves that you cannot work within the system because Marxism was clearly elected. Dr. Allende was elected on a Marxist-Leninist platform, but a pacifist one at that. The people supported him. They tried to bring change by gradualism and democracy, and that is revisionism. It will not work. The so-called institutions then of Communism, the great liberators of Communism, should’ve been in Chile, but hesitant because they thought it would break in– bring a nuclear war. Perhaps that is why the Soviet Union has become so active in Africa and Cuba also. If they had only come then. Cuba, Soviet Union, Albania, some of the braver of the Communists could’ve saved the day.
Now they look around us at bruised and blood-stained faces, turning our eyes from left to right – by the way, that was my opinion that I just gave – looking for all the world like so many animals being– before being driven to the slaughterhouse, the exhaustion of the last few weeks was nothing. Our black and blue bodies, beaten to a pulp, do not worry us too much either, cut off from the outside world, cast down, anonymous – that means unknown, nobody cares – blacklisted – white-listed, we would say – we had been plunged into oblivion to being unknown – that means nobody knows, nobody cares – like those who remain lying in the streets, bayoneted to death, or killed in regimental barracks. That is why what we saw through our periscope filled us with hope and courage. Someone began quietly whistling a hymn, which was a favorite with us, “The Day I Am No More,” Victor Jara’s, “You Will Have to Take My Place.” And although we had been knocked off our feet, and our places in life and at work are now vacant, these fleeting shadows appearing through the periscope fill us with a longing for life, with knowledge that they are there, looking for us, waiting for us, and we come to life with them.
By the way, not nearly all, not by any means half, said what they would do in the case of something happening to us, a White Night, or a remote possibility of something happening to the leader, but some of you are indeed brave candidates, you are truly members in esprit de corps and spirit of the Red Brigade, young and old. Don’t meddle with this great institution of Jonestown. It’s not social imperialism, we have revolutionary activists here, who have some very remarkable plans. I was reading different ones, young, black, Mary Touchette– uh, Mary, uh, Mary Tschetter rather, Wesley Breidenbach, Yvonne Morrison, on and on. I could just name them on and on, black and white, with all kinds of intricate plans to make a lasting stand against fascism.
But they were coming to life again. I don’t know that it ever really pays to come to life – and this is the (Unintelligible word; could be “author” or “office”) speaking – you got to endure life and take it one day at a time. Enjoy every moment. Last night when we were in the pavilion, my blood pressure was two hundred and eighty or something like that, over a hundred and forty, I heard the chirping of the crickets and the frogs, and I thought this is a treat. Only once in a lifetime would some people be able to enjoy this, and we take it for granted. The chirping of the birds in the morning, the rising of the sun, the glorious setting of the sun, the trade winds that are always (Unintelligible word) breezily flowing, the beauty, the utter beauty in our land, our land. Even if it’s trusted for just a moment, what a challenge.
But they begin to come to life again as they looked out, our wives and friends, our companions in life, for many years, who shared the days of starvation and strikes with us, and our modest family feast, and holidays, they are out there, acting, doing something, fighting for our release. They are also threatened with imprisonment, but they are not deterred by US imperialism and its military junta in Chile, that’s cooperating with this bloody terror and murder. They carry on with grim determination to secure our release. They gather together at the approaches to the Estadio Chile, the second half of September, the (Unintelligible Spanish name) tower above the pall of smoke from fires started by the Air Force, all US airplanes, tanks are strategically positioned in downtown Santiago, soldiers in armored carriers patrol the workers’ suburbs. Any passerby is a suspect, and suspects are brutally seized and arrested. If their behavior in any way leads their captors to think that they are trying to escape, they are shot immediately. The pavements are strewn with broken glass, brick, and other debris, the asphalt is ripped apart in places, and it is stained with blood everywhere. The roar of engines, barking commands– I suppose that stain with blood doesn’t touch you, but what if it was the blood of your grandson, your granddaughter, your daughter, your child? What if it was your companion? Think about it being your blood. Bestained with blood, a roar of engines, barking commands, broken furniture and smoldering bonfires of books. ‘Cause every time fascism takes over, even as it did in USA under Senator [Joseph] McCarthy, all books on socialism, all books on black liberation, all books that cause you to think must be burned in giant book-burning– gr– great book-burning episodes. That was what happened in Nazi Germany. You saw the films.
The country is paralyzed at a standstill. Every condition has been created to give the military a free hand, the military who are obsessed with one idea, to hunt down the civilians. As you remember, the army was tricked into even fighting the war. They thought they were being invaded by outside armies, just as Germany was tricked into getting into the wa– the war. It started fascist aggression against Poland. Oh how tricky, how tricky the leaders of fascist governments are. In Hitler’s Germany, remember, they dressed their own secret police as Polish, put them in (Pause) uniform, attacked a radio station, then later killed their own Polish soldiers, dressed their own secret police that’d years given service to Hitler as the Gestapo killed them. Not before the German radio, and killed their own people in the German radio station, and of course the last broadcaster from the German radio station on the border of Poland said we are being attacked by Poland. And thus the mood was set for Germany to back Hitler, and yet there was more protest against Adolf Hitler, who was a dictator in Germany, that ever was known in USA. For 7000 German mothers and wives laid their bodies down on railroad tracks, and had to be hung in public square, trying to resist the war, because they smelled that something was rotten in Denmark. Yes, their duty now, the military tricked into thinking they were fighting a war against an outside military force, was to hunt down the civilians, their own fellow countrymen. An earthquake of quite a different nature’s now ravaging the uh, the changeable beauty of Santiago, the blood-stained tiny part of our planet’s spinning, with a rumble every now and then, on its journey through the universe. Two days after the military coup – that means takeover by the military – taking advantage of the few hours during which the curfew was lifted, the wives of those missing – or perhaps they were already widows – left their homes in search of their husbands. (tape edit) They asked their next door neighbor (pause) to look after their children, they went straight to the nearest police or regimental barracks, they asked questions, made inquiries, but got no answers. They were rudely pushed out without explanation. Two or three of them stopped, frightened, they drew their heads together, they say there’s a mortuary over there – that means a funeral parlor – they say there’s a hospital here with a morgue. After conferring briefly, talking together briefly, they decide where to go next and set off, keeping to the route mapped out. Other regimental barracks, police stations, majors and lieutenants, endless people they see. The women aren’t allowed to move as a group. If two of them walk side by side, it’s a group and that’s a crime. By law, it’s a crime, if a group meets in any military takeover. By the way, under Senate Bill 1437, it’s already a crime in the USA, a crime if a group assembles outside any governmental office. That’s where we are in USA today, and there didn’t even have to be a military takeover, there didn’t even have to be a military coup. But if two of them walk side by side, it’s a group, and they go singly from one end of the city to the other, from south to west, from north to east, all over the city. Walking is very tiring. Public transport, with few exceptions, is not running. Takes a long time and not a little effort to reach one’s destination. There’s firing going on in the center and in the suburbs, but even holding a baby in arms, and there are such among them, the women reach their destination. Luckily they can do a part of the journey by bus, where they can get together and exchange news. They are chased away from everywhere. They walk away and look from a distance. They stand waiting. If they see a man in uniform, they violate the ban, and ask him questions. Some of them are beaten, others are arrested, while still others get shots in the air for a reply, but they keep coming. Nothing deters them. The towns, the cities, the villages, up and down the country are filled with undiminishing sorrow and mourning.
We saw one such scattered group of women through our periscope walking around the Estadio Chile. The following day the crowd was visibly bigger, and the soldiers began dispersing the women, wielding rifle butts, some of them fell down writhing on the ground, and when the soldiers got tired of beating the women, beating them again and again, they went back to where they had been and stayed there asking, “Is he alive?” “Where is he?” “What for?” “My husband is no criminal.” “When will they let him go?” This should never be, there should be no begging, there should’ve been screaming demands and acts of terror, but unfortunately, in too many socialist countries, women are kept unliberated. All they know how to do is to be a passive extension of their male. If they had really cared– and that’s why you husbands should encourage revolutionary women, fighting, strong revolutionary women, instead of some that sneak around right after women’s revolutionary socialist movement, and shack up with a man, without being cleared. We know what goes on in this committee, uh, for the defense of the revolution. You would not like the kind of women you’re creating, the women who do not have enough spine to even stand up and fight, for most of them did not. Most of them did not take plans of action. They should be trained militarily. We should incorporate our women in (Unintelligible word), we should incorporate them in munitions control, we should incorporate them in every measure of defense system. (Unintelligible) and guerilla fighting, it should be reinstituted, reinaugurated. We badly need to have women who have certainly been used to suffering, trained, because they can endure, along with some of the men, the few that’ve given up their chauvinism. The soldier with his steel helmet on is not aware of this. His job is to carry out orders. He is not even hearing the cries of the mothers, the cries of the wives that should’ve been fighting. But even he gets tired from the unceasing moaning and groaning going on around him. He steps back only to hear his superiors remind him sharply (Pause) of his duty to chase them away. Soldiers holding their rifles atilt charge the crowd of women. The women run away screaming, falling and struggling back to their feet, typical of the unemancipated women in a democratic situation. Chile should’ve had a revolutionary takeover, as Jim Simpson shaid– said, last night, it should’ve been out of the barrel of the gun, and women should’ve been emancipated from this role of screaming and looking so passive, as so often is the case, and right here we have that disgusting behavior. Too weak to know how to do anything. And yet we’ve got some tough women here, some of the toughest suggestions that came, someone with the wisest plans. And by God I want to see every one of you with a plan of what you will do if you face death, and how you will face revolutionary death, and what you will do, if necessary, to die for the revolution.
The soldiers fire in the air to frighten them away, and it succeeds. Some time later the women reappear timidly, one by one, stopping a short distance away, they again shout their questions. This is what you get, gentlemen, when you keep (tape silence for several seconds) crazed desperate women ends with the onset of the curfew, only to begin or resume again the following day. As the days went by, more and more women came to the stadium, each time getting closer to their goal. Silently, grief-stricken, more and more weeping widows returned to their homes, others not knowing whether their husbands were alive or not, and if so, where, upon discovering one more detention center, one more concentration camp, went straight there like so many bees to look for them for days, weeks, and months. That’s beautiful, but they shoulda been doing counter-action. There shoulda been revolution, rebellion, taking part in every part of every industrial suburb, all throughout the cities of Chile. Then something could’ve been done about their husbands that were being tortured in the jails and in the concentration camps. We can be strong, if we’re educated in military warfare, and give away visionary concepts of idealistic socialism as some. Some said I want to write a book – oh, some of the stories that I read – if a revolution comes. I’m afraid of death, give me something that I can do to live. I don’t know how anyone could remain in Jonestown with such feeble hearts.
(Voice rises dramatically throughout) It was rumored one day that detainees or prisoners were being kept at the Estadio Chile. After all, a thick ring of guards around the stadium was confirmation enough. Neither bullets nor water cannon nor arrests nor beatings could keep the women away this time. They left only when the stadium was cleared of all prisoners. In fact the stadium was being prepared for a fresh batch of detainees, while those who had been taken there right after the military takeover or coup, were shifted to the Estadio Nacional. But the swelling crowd of irrepressible women– It took them several months but they finally got hold of what they were dealing with, then laid siege to that. There were so many and so active that even the pit combat troops on guard duty over the 30,000 POW’s, lost the initiative and beat a retreat following a series of vain attempts to scatter the surging crowd of besieger woman. But where do the women get this strength? From each other, being separated from the so-called men in their lives for several months, driven by their strong ties to their near ones, the women sought out concentration camps and besieged them.
(Pause, normal tone) Excuse me, I have to delay to moisten my throat from time to time.
Later they organized motorcades and went to Chacabuco. They were refused permits to enter the area. Their trips to Antofagasta and beyond into the pampas lasted for weeks. They did tens of s– miles on foot, literally hundreds in some case[s], heavily laden with bundles of clothing and food – they should’ve gotten some gasoline and other things – heavily laden with bundles of clothing. For weeks they sat under trees in Puchuncavi, P-u-c-h-u-n-c-a-v-i, waiting for permission to speak with the inmates of Melinka, M-e-l-i-n-k-a. They showered the guards outside the Quintero Air Base with questions before they got permission to enter Ritoque, R-i-t-o-q-u-e. In Punta Ana– Arenas, A-r-e-n-a-s, they doggedly pressed for the ban on passage to Dolcett [phonetic] Island to be lifted. They never lost hope. To begin with, they secured permission to have notes passed to the inmates. Later they demanded permission to send letters, still later they fought for visits, and finally, for their release. Now, what if they had had some gasoline? I wonder what would’ve taken place. This would have been too much for the Chilean people. Uh, Latino, and all over America, as far as that goes, all over the world, the males are chauvinist, but if the women had suddenly resorted to violence, I mean real physical violence, no doubt they could’ve even emancipated Chile. In Talacucahona, T-a-l-c-a– a-h-u-a-n-o, in front of Quila Quina, they formed silent and obstinate queues, that’s– that means lines. They stood patiently for long hours on the piers of Valparaiso, out on the port looking at the lebu, l-e-b-u, which had been converted into a floating prison, which holds packed– with holds packed full of prisoners being tortured. They acted in the same way everywhere, at Rancagua, R-a-n-c-a-g-u-a, Temuco, T-e-m-u-c-o, Linares, L-i-n-a-r-e-s, Copiapo, C-o-p-i-a-p-o, they surrounded the stadium at Concepcion, C-o-n-c-e-p-c-i-o-n, which like the one in Santiago, had – Santiago, S-a-n-t-i-a-g-o – had been turned into a prison. Regimental barracks, police stations, and prisons all meant the same thing for the thousands upon thousands of these heroic women. They turned for help to the priest[s] in their parishes, they spoke with bishops, and were received by the cardinal. The churches gave them some refuge. The Church was initially on the side of the military takeover, but when it saw its bloody work– unfortunately liberals always have to learn the hard way, and that’s the point of the Red Brigade, (unintelligible) the only way you’re going to solidify, bring together all peoples of the working class is by causing the police state to really show its ugly, fascist, murderous terror. They tried to comfort them without asking their ideological affiliation, as the Church used to, because the Church refused to accept anyone in its parish under Chile’s government before, who were communist or socialist. They were seen as the defenseless and persecuted women they were, and a helping hand was extended to them. (tape edit) The first group of women to obtain permission to visit the Chakabuko concentration camp on Christmas Eve 1973 was accompanied by nuns and priest[s]. All along the way to the concentration camp, the monasteries and convents gave them shelter.
November 4, 1973, just about three months after the br– the terrible military takeover by US imperialism through the Chilean armed forces, marked a major victory: permission to visit the inmates of the Estadio Nacional, and so the silence of isolation to which tens of thousands (Pause) of detainees, among them hundreds of women were condemned, was broken. The military junta – J-U-N-T-A, which means military dictatorship – thought they knew Chilean women well, but they were mistaken. They did not. They had expected a collective hysterical outburst, an epidemic of fainting fits, and they were even preparing to turn the emotional explosion to advantage. Orders went out to set up Red Cross tents, complete with stretchers, and to set up TV cameras to broadcast far and wide evidence of their humaneness. But contrary to their expectations, as all men expect women to behave in certain roles, the women had gotten together. And that’s why women need to be in the women’s revolutionary socialist movement, and get your asses together. The women had gotten together, the women swallowed down their tears, and kept a good grip on themselves. They never complained during the brief meetings with their incarcerated – imprisoned husbands that means – on the contrary, they encouraged their husbands and even tried to laugh their sorrow away. (Pause) Crowding together outside the fence, they saw their near and dear ones for the first time after a long separation. (tape edit) Remember, brother, if you don’t want your wife to speak back to you, you won’t have this kind of a woman that’ll stand up and fight for you when the time comes, she’ll be passively moony-eyed, looking at some other man, the moment you’re gone or sick to take your place. They had agreed among themselves, these women, to fight for permission to see their husbands as frequently as possible. Until that day, they had looked at the stadium from the street, listening to the loudspeakers, as the names of those who were called in for questioning were announced. They saw the few who were released as they ran along the wider streets, oblivious of everything and giving nervous replies to the questions. Members of the junta who have no principle but thought of themselves as machismos, real sexual objects, said they didn’t expect that their women would fight for them in this way, and no doubt they wouldn’t, because the women were standing up for men, who at least had some measure of socialist principle, and some of you men better realize that that’s what it’s going to take to keep any kind of companionship in the long run. Again, this is my commentary. When the women came in to the stadium they were frozen with horror, when they saw their husbands, sons, fathers, fiancés, and brothers crowded together behind bar– bars, looking like the inmates of a monkey house, but the women overcame their initial shock, they were strong now. They made no mention of the dirty and torn clothes, or the cuts and lacerations and the black and blue bruises, or about the gray hairs that were not there only yesterday, or about the gauntness and bruises all over their body and even their faces. In a calm voice, they talked about their difficulties and the most urgent problems. When they left the stadium, they waved goodbye with upraised arms, with a fist of international working class socialist solidarity. For several hours afterwards, an almost palpable sense of their presence lingered on, that means the palpitation, like the beat– the pulse beat of a heart. The Red Cross tents were not needed, neither were the stretchers. It was only when they reached home that night that the women gave away– gave way to their emotions.
When the husbands had disappeared, the daily bread had disappeared too, a sense of imp– impotence, that means (stumbles over words) inability to do anything, our inability to help our families back home was enough to drive us mad. Our women exerted tremendous efforts to keep things going. Those who had been working before the coup, were followed after it. They had to take odd jobs selling fruit in fruit stalls, peddling bread that they made at home, and pies for sale, or selling some kind of sweets, they had to stretch their ingenuity to the limit to provide food and clothing for their children that were near starvation. Such help as they got from neighbors was very welcome, but of course it was not enough. Such help is tremendously appreciated, but of course, it cannot (Pause) become a way of life. When a child falls ill, its mother sells the TV set, and later the watch and the record player to buy tickets for the children who want to see their father in a concentration camp. Miles away, the wives send food, parcels, to her husbands to keep him going physically, and so the flat becomes denuded, the apartment empty – that means empty, I’ll try to explain words so you can increase your vocabulary, uh– also as we read. The– the book– the flat– the apartment becomes empty, denuded as one by one the various articles were– are sold, she tries not to miss a single visiting day, and if your children have not been thrown out of school, they bring you their best gift, good marks in the daybook. Homes gradually– gradually became empty, the absence of the men and disappearance of things like bookshelves and tablecloths, standard lamps and curtains, make a once cozy home look bigger and colder and colder. In the end the family have to part with their home and move into a single room, or to relatives able to take them in. Some even had to move to the mountainsides and hover in rocks for comfort. The agonizing disruption of life, and the main thing, the absence of her husband, turned the wife’s sorrow into hatred, a feeling at once alien and revolting to her (Pause) and the image of womanhood that is promoted all over the world. We are told about all the things our women are doing. Women’s solidarity unions are at long last finding a sympathetic hearing and are getting cooperation. The officials of various government departments to which the women turn for help gradually cave in to their enterties– entreaties, their demands, and do what they can to help.
Other news reaches us. The junta – that means the military dictatorship – has begun reorganizing the country’s economy in its interest. The signs over the nationalized enterprise– That’s why I say nationalization, as I gave in an earlier documentary on Marxism, that the Communist Party USA is recommending, is no way a substitute for expropriation. Expropriation means taking over the means of production and the means of distribution, and distributing them to the people, not the state, because a capitalist state cannot be trusted, if it nationalize– nationalizes its industries, the surplus valor– value of the labor go to the techna– technocrats, like we have some of that even here in Guyana. The signs over the nationalized enterprises are being torn down and replaced by the signs of local and international private companies. With the return of the former owners to the factories and plants, the overseers again become part of the workshop scene. If on payday, any worker dared to protest against excessive deductions, large amounts taken out of his paycheck from his pay, would brand himself thereby as a radical extremist to be put behind bars– bars and tortured at once.
To those who had fought against the impending – that means the coup that was coming, that they saw coming – and called for vigilance – that means some strong will or fighting against it – this came at [as] no surprise. Those who had remained indifferent to the alarming events on the eve of the coup, the takeover by the military, by the direction of US imperialism, [Henry] Kissinger had just come days before, for [Richard Nixon] the president of the United States had given nine million dollars, to have President Allende murdered. Those who had remained indifferent to the alarming events on that eve of the military takeover, or who had actively encouraged them, had a rude awakening. They were coming after them too, as it was there with a pastor in Germany [Martin Niemöller] that said, “When they came after the Communists, I didn’t care, I didn’t like Communists. When they came after the Jews, I hated Jews, I was a Christian minister, I didn’t do anything. When they came after the Catholics and they came after the trade unions and so forth, I did nothing, but when they came after me, it was too late. There was no one to look after me.” That’s why you have to stand vigilant and not let one be taken from Jonestown, and that’s why the stupid socialist and interracial groups of North America and USA should’ve stood together, but they didn’t, and thus we are here, and thus we will stand here, and thus we’ll produce this land, create margins of profit that can go to help liberation of our people there, on in ways that would make your heart beat with pride.
Those lucky enough to still have their jobs have had their wages cut, those persecuted for political reasons and the jobless are much worse off. Both categories have been deprived of their citizenship rights, and many are without any means of livelihood. This is just exactly like will be taking place under the Senate Bill 1437. This is America, just a pattern of events in USA, so listen to it. And many are without any means of livelihood at all, no way to live. Such property as escaped destruction and pillage, being torn up and gone through, and had things stolen by the coup, the military, when the putchists burst into homes during the wave of wholesale arrests and raids, was later exchanged for food. All is gone now. (Pause) And barely can families’ mothers keeps their children’s bodies and souls together. All this we learn from the women on visiting days. They told us about a car mechanic who is now selling fried fish, about a neighbor who had shot himself, and about the girl with pigtails from the house with the balcony, who had begun streetwalking to earn something for food because the family was starving. What they pass over in silence, we learn about from the newly-arrived detainees and prisoners. They are brought to the stadium in lorry loads, truckloads, and are tortured and interrogated and questioned for hours and hours. Many of them are engaged in dangerous work, organized in response to the fascist terror that’s instrumented– implemented by USA fascism and monopoly capitalism. We look at Chile from our prison, catching only glimpses of the life outside. Beyond the walls and the barbed wire, the cloud of dust having settled on the ruins, we are able to watch from a distance, without being able to help, the formation of a pattern of actions and feelings, events, and moods, which will later accelerate – that means speed up – the process of resurgence – that means again, a revival, a revolutionary revival – and the smiling tenderness in the eyes of our near ones is part of this process. All this we sense consequent upon the discovery we made on the first day of our arrival at the stadium. Our periscope did not deceive us, as we held bodies upon bodies on soldi– shoulders of one another to look out the dim-litted toilet window to see what was happening in the streets.
Chapter 6: “Stand By My Side.”
Sector 7. Over two hundred prisoners are kept in this gloomy part of the stadium. On one side is a railing, on the other a long staircase leading up to the north grandstand under which we are being kept. Down below, all we can see is a tripod of the machine gun covering the exit into the staircase. The machine gun is manned by a crew of three. On either side– (Pause) on either side of the corridor, leading to a football pitch, are rows of toilets, dirty and filthy, which are overflowing. Looking through the railings of the fence reinforced with padlocked chains, we can see tanks and troops.
The only way you can appreciate this is to put yourself there, or someone you love, and that’s difficult for some of you, because you don’t know much about loving, I’m afraid. We are to spend 14 days here in these padlocked chains, getting only a quarter of a bowl of s– bean soup a day. Our particular group is made up of the people from different walks of life. There’re about 100 students from– and teachers from the State University of Technology, porters from Las Vegas, and the Central Marget– Market, officials from the Corful [phonetic], Corful is a corporation of industrial development, herb sellers, textile workers, and the staff of radio Recabarren, R-e-c-a-b-a-r-r-e-n, professional doctors who stood up, even small businessmen. Nobody counted. As long as the fascists wanted their goods, it made no difference who they were. We were all just working class people together.
Two days later, they gave us a blanket for every four persons. After another three days, we were given– (tape edit) we were given more blankets, holey and dirty, and we could dispense with sharing. A week later they gave us mattresses, one mattress per six, six people on a– one– one bed. And Red Cross packages containing a rose-colored towel, a cake of small soap, a small comb, a toothbrush. Now we look for more convenient places to settle down, dragging our few possessions with us on our backs. For the time being, they’re not troubling us too much, and despite the order to get up at 6 in the morning, we are allowed to sleep through most of the day on mattresses thrown down in places where there is some shade. On rainy days, we get soaked it– to the skin. And our precious holey blankets become so soggy, that it makes little difference whether the dirty water dripping from the stands overhead lands us us– lands on us or on the dirty floor. In October, they allowed us to get food parcels from our wives and relatives (tape edit) but after the routine security examination, half the food usually disappeared. Sometimes the food parcels never reached us at all. (Pause)
After some days, the students from the University of Technology established some kind of support, some kind of rapport – that means of understanding – with the crew of the machine gun at the top of the staircase. The young men had little difficulty in making conversation. The soldiers were new recruits, rushed into Santiago from Antofagasta on September 11. They asked the students about the foreign troops. They had been told that they were going to fight regular Cuban and Soviet troops, and they had never encountered them before. The soldiers did not believe what the students told them. At any rate, they did not while they were in the stadium on guard duty. No doubt they questioned in their minds. In the weeks and months that followed, they would realize that they had been fooled into killing their own people. (tape edit)
The large group of workers from the Madeco, M-a-d-e-c-o plant were brought in at midnight, 80 of them with the marks of beating still fresh on them, had been kept at the barracks on– of the El Bosque, E-l capital B-o-s-q-u-e Air Base, shivering with cold and worn down by sleepless nights. So many sleepless nights. They were on their last legs. Happily they had some bread with them, which they had stuffed into their pockets. The metal workers from the Madeco plant, who had been accused of making armored cars, were put through the same tortures and humiliations as had been our lot. The rapings by male to male, shoving those clubs up their anuses (Unintelligible word under radio distortion), but the beatings failed to break their militant spirit, their longing to be active. There’s no order here, they commented, when they had a look around, particularly when they start ladli– ladling out the quarter– the cup of bean soup. (Pause) You pounce on it like a crowd of hungry animals, with the result that some of you go hungry. (Lecturing tone) That’s why you must be prepared in Jonestown for revolutionary death. Life should not be held onto at such a price. There shoulda been a resistance, a food strike, a hunger strike. The idea that people should become as han– animals and fight over a quarter of a cup of bean soup. It is ridiculous. There should no fear of death here, and I am very impatient with you that still fear death, which is the last enemy that we’ve overcome in many White Night.
(resumes reading) This should not be allowed to go on. (Pause) Don’t you see that the military pigs only to do– too delighted to see you behave like animals. This must be stopped. We agreed with the criticism and decided to do something about it. The 300 of us split into six rows of fifty each. When they brought in the bean soup, each row had to get their share by turns. Row number one followed by row number two, and so on, until row number six. (sniffs) The next day, the order was reversed so that row number six was the first to get their meal. (tape edit) We also organized duty teams to sweep the rooms and to see to the plumbing in the dirty, filthy lavatories, the toilets. The older men and those suffering from colds and viruses and pneumonia were moved to warmer places away from droughts [draughts]. We also assigned scouts whose job it was to see that during the daytime patrols, the soldiers did not notice those who were still asleep. We also deloused one of our comrades, Martinez, who was literally crawling with vermin from a spell in the police prison. They began to organize and look after each other, instead of looking after their own bellies, as some of you do when they have all you want to eat. You really make me nervous, what you would do, the way you get at that food line. You really make us sick, that are truly communist. (resumes reading) We demanded the Red Cross personnel should cleanse and disinfect our sector. We were given a canful of milky emulsion and brushes with which we smeared each other with this emulsion from top to toe.
The metal workers from the Madeco were arrested several days after the military takeover, the coup of September 11. When the daytime curfew was lifted, when the junta announced a return to normal life in the country – if you could call it normal – (Pause) they returned to their plant. For several days, nobody touched them. Then one morning, Air Force trucks and buses arrived at the plant. (Pause) The workers were ordered to line up in the yard, just like a lot of workers in factories in USA who think that they’ll do fine, just get ridding– getting rid of blacks, and indeed, in Chile, they got rid of the blacks first, and the Jews, but finally they came for all the people in the factory. Everybody went. The workers were ordered to line up in the yard, and a list of names were read out. Those on the list were taken to El Bosque Air Base for interrogation. Actually, there was no questioning or interrogation, and the workers were dealt with in the same way as the rest of the detainees – beaten and tortured like us here at the stadium – they were now awaiting a ruling on their case.
One day the metal workers suggested that we put on an amateur show, but the inmates of Sector 7 were outraged at the idea. They argued that amid so much suffering and misery, it was blasphemous indeed to even entertain any idea of a variety show of entertainment. For nine days, they had been beating us, they said. Chile had been betrayed. The popular unity government, a unity of socialist, progressives and communist, the product of years of struggle by generations of freedom fighters had been destroyed. The eyes of mourners for the dead were still wet from weeping. And here they were talking of a song and a dance. If this is not blasphemy, what the hell is it? There’ll be no show finish.
But it is essential, the workers insisted. Can’t you see that your tears and complaints won’t help you? The important thing now is to survive and– and to survive, mon– one must want to survive. Humph. Boy, you see, they lack revolutionary awareness. You shouldn’t want to survive. Your hate alone to get at your class enemies would be sufficient. You don’t need entertainment. If we survive, we’ll have a chance to win back what we have lost this time round.
This is no time for songs, poetry readings, or jokes. Who knows? Perhaps in the near future, we’ll have this time and the inclin– inclination. We’ll be tempted for this sort of thing. But not now. (tape edit) There’s too much misery and suffering. Some of our children and wives are also under arrest now. Where are they? Nobody knows. All we know is, how they are treating our wives. They torture them, the same as us, and what is worse, they let the soldiers rape them over and again. And you want us to sing and dance? Not on your damn life.
To come back to life, our wives need men who are strong in spirit. They need our support, but first of all, we’ve got to prove to ourselves that we are strong enough in body and spirit to overcome our present misfortune and to conquer the future. Right, Peineta, let’s get started. Gonzales, nicknamed Peineta, a lanky lad with a fringe of black hair on his forehead, sang a few songs, supported by four other volunteers, then he presented some amateur reciters, and cracked jokes at which he and his friends laughed louder than anybody else. The amateur show lasted until nine P.M. I can’t relate to this at all. At all. Maybe some of you in Jonestown can. I can’t relate to this at all. My hate and talk of hate and planning conceptions to how to get at the enemies who were raping the women and li– little children being tortured woulda been all that I needed to kept my will and kept it alive until I took some fascist bastards.
The students and teachers from the University of Technology watched in silence. The rest of the audience whistled, hissed and otherwise expressed their indignation and protest. The audience was divided into two camps, and each clung to its opinion. The duty teams which on that day were responsible for keeping the place clean acted as mediators, peace-makers, trying to get the opposing sides to settle their differences amicably. The– Amicably means peacefully. (Pause)
In the evening of the following day, the Madeco metal workers decided– decided not to try to persuade anybody, but simply offered the rest of the detainees what they called a comedy show. (tape edit) Among the students who joined them (tape edit) were some amateur reciters and singers. About an hour later, Peineta, P-e-i-n-e-t-a, who by now was hoarse from overstraining his vocal cord, assisted by his fellow nickname Chan Faina, C-h-a-n F-a-i-n-a, conducted a choir singing ditties which were later to become the hymn of the prisoners. The lyrics went as follows.
Brother, listen to a song of joy/ The joy of singing of those looking to the dawn of the next day/ We listen with deep emotion, as the singers went on./ Stand by my side. Sing./ Dream as you sing./ Live, dreaming of the coming dawn./ Relatives and friends, fallen comrades, we saw you lying in the mud in the streets/ Anna, where are you now?/ You were arrested on eleventh of September/ Have you managed to regain freedom/ Or are you in prison like us and humiliated?/ My children, are you alive?/ Where are you, my son?/ On the eleventh, you left for the city center/ Were you caught in crossfire? Do you see the dead?/ Where are you, my daughter? How are you now?/ Neither mother nor I came to school at midday on September 11 to collect you/ Where did you go when the school was closed/ And your frightened schoolmates and teachers trooped out?/ Or did you stay on in the empty school?/ I dearly hope that you are alive and at liberty,/ and that this horror is but a bad dream for you. Now that kind of inspiration I can relate to. When people are again brothers to one another/ Even after standing in the center of the circle/ Formed by linked and raised arms is conducting the choir with abandon/ The students are singing/ We join in/ Before long, the whole of the sector is singing – When people are again brothers to one another – but I still say they shoulda been spending most of their time planning on how to get the bastards. Finally in comes the military. Line up against the wall, you bastards. And I can see that advantage of singing. It does make those oppressors seem like they’re not getting anywhere.
We did not notice when the soldiers turned up in our sector. We realized that what had happened too late– it was too late when we realized when they showered us with blows and abuses. Beating our balls in typical fashion, prodding us into the back with their rifles and bayonets, they drove us out into the football field and ordered us to run around the track, lap after lap, until our heads were spinning. They would allow us to slow down a bit, and then it was off again. Lap after lap around the stadium. This went on for hours and hours and hours. After that, they let us return to our sector. The guards promised us a beating up should we try to organize a political demonstration again. The military was so threatened, they called singing a political demonstration.
That’s the ending of two chapters. More of Rolando Carrasaco– Carrasco, rather, C-a-r-r-a-s-c-o, Chile’s Prisoners of War, who’s now with Radio Moscow as he was given refuge by the liberation vanguard of Marxist-Leninism, always the Soviet Union. He was finally– negotiated his freedom and his family’s after several years in the Chilean concentration camps.
Remember, we’re still in on discussion of only a few weeks of this barbaric torture carried on by USA, direct aid to the Green Berets and CIA money. The next chapter, though, I will take up will be Chapter Seven, “Prelude in D Sharp.” I will continue hopefully until this whole book has been read and digested. Perhaps it can be started from the beginning to give some of you the feeling of what is taking place at this moment in Chile. Some for five years have undergone– have undergone the torture without complaint.
I love you. Identify with the sufferings of our comrades, and know that life is meaningless, no more meaningful than a worm’s existence, or one of these beetles that lifts– live only just fourteen to twenty-four hours that you see flying around at this time of the year. Then there’s no meaning outside of communism, but in communism, there becomes revolutionary purpose. We identify with the pulse of the struggle of the heartbeat of those fighting the oppressors in Zimbabwe, in Zaire, in Mozambique, in Trans-Sky today that are strongly resisting the Union of South Africa. In Botswana, in Namibia, in Ethiopia, and Afghanistan that won its heroic revolution. Even the US Air Force joined the communist after the communist leaders were killed, they joined the communist and have joined the brave Soviet liberators. And now they have surrounded entirely the renegade (pause) imperialist lackeys who run the policy of China. Yes, China surrounded and isolated. [It] Does threaten the balance of power and it could bring a nuclear war, but so be the course of events. Finally communism will win. Finally the struggle of the working class masses will liberate oppressed people everywhere. And also with the Afghanistan revolution – look on your maps so you know it in detail – now [Reza Pahlavi] the Shah of Iran is completely surrounded, and some of those he’s tortured have fled into Afghanistan and are being equipped with arms with the Afghanistan people and the Soviets, and they’re invading his territory, and the shah is nervous. He who has murdered hundreds of thousands, and has hundreds of thousands in his jails where he tortured them, with USA help, now he’s nervous, as he’s surrounded entirely by Soviet allies: the USSR, Iraq, Syria, and now, Afghanistan. The pulse of revolution goes on.
Thank you. I love you very much.
End of tape
Tape originally posted December 2009