Personal Story Relating to Villa Grimaldi

The day after my nineteenth birthday, I was detained by Pinochet’s secret police and spent one month as a desaparecido in the Villa Grimaldi torture center. Later, I spent one long year in four different concentration camps in central Chile. In 1976, I was expelled from the country and was allowed to return safely only towards the end of the dictatorial regime in 1989. It was not until I began a graduate program in Cultural Studies at Stanford University that I started to realize the nature of my past experiences as a survivor from the hands of Pinochet’s special secret service. It finally dawned on me that I had been carrying around a fragmented history inside a hermetically sealed suitcase which I had never really wanted to unpack. It was the last suitcase that I had brought into exile, the one that was forgotten in the corner of my memory, hidden probably because of my fear of unwanted demons.

I feel that one of the most important contributions that I have to offer to the discussion about memory, torture, the relationship between terror and aesthetics, political violence, and survival, is to pick up the pieces and try to assemble the dark puzzle that is the legacy of the dictatorial period.