He lost his father, when he was a child. Hugo Riveros was a well known artist in Chile. But his history is about to disappear from our memory. Hugo Riveros is one of several thousands who "disappeared".
Miguel is one of 200.000 Chileans who have been forced into exile. Many of them try to preserve the memory of the regime's victims. Left-wing politicians, unionists, students and guerillas: 2000 of them were killed, 1200 people "disappeared", 10.000 were tortured. Hugo Riveros was imprisoned several times before he has been brutally killed. What did he do wrong? He faced the regime. And he sketched people's feelings about it. Feelings that people weren't allowed to voice.
After Hugo Riveros got killed, the only thing left were some pictures drawn in prison. They are outlines of a terrible time. 1990 the military dictatorship of Chile took an end. But the historical revision never began. Victor Flores Gallardo is one of the Chileans who try to make a start. In his documentation "Relato en Carbon" ("Story out of Cole") he looks for places where Hugo Riveros has been. The torture prison is the building of a students union today. The story of the building? It is not known anymore. How many disappeared during that time? Too many people have stopped recounting.
After Hugo Rivero's death in 1981 Miguel and his mother Myriam found refuge in Germany. Yearslong his mother called attention for what happened in Chile. Then a box with drawings was found in Switzerland. Drawings by Hugo Riveros. During Pinochet's military dictatorship many people from the outside didn't know how frightening the regime really was. Today many don't know it yet - or anymore.
In 2010 a museum of remembrance was inaugurated in Santiago. The "Museo de la Memoria" presented the movie about the story of Hugo Riveros in 2014.
In Germany it was presented in Instituto Cervantes in Bremen on 14 April 2015.
We met during an anti-government demonstration. In the period of Allende. We went to Santiago, in 1971. Quite long ago. We were part of a movement. The students went onto the streets, just as they do today, for a free education. I was in school, 18 years old. Hugo went to a school of arts. I was playing theater. That is why we found together – and because of the political proposals we both had in mind. Hugo belonged to "MIR", a left-wing movement.
Miguel was about to turn four years old, when we came to Germany. You couldn't think about anything but: I want to leave. We've left everything behind. I didn't even bring a single toy Miguel could play with. It all happened too fast, it was too risky. When we came to Germany I was asked: "Where is your luggage?" - "Which luggage?", I asked. There is no time to pack your bags, when you are trying to save your life.
They put us into a nice apartment in Bremen: 13th floor, a park in between, a view on the crowns of the trees. We were alone. Without language, nor anything else, you were staying in a new place feeling lonely. It was a shock. I didn't need quietness rather than someone who was around me, a family. But we settled quickly. Miguel kept saying that he would like to have a horse. I asked him: Where should we keep a horse? He said: On the balcony, see how beautiful it is outside.
Miguel was born during the military dictatorship. It isn't easy to live in a shelter. There are only few friends, you don't trust anyone. Life is different, just like that. A life filled with fear and hope.
His father told the Chilean press that he painted pictures of the secret agents in torture prison. They thought that we have taken these pictures with us. As we reached the airport to leave Chile, a German ambassador provided support for us. The secret agents threatened us at the airport. We should not tell anything abroad. If we would do so they will find and kill us. When we reached Germany, the police offered us to change our name. I refused to do so, I think ever since: Why should I hide myself?
Hugo had entered a contract with a German gallery in Bremen. Some of the pictures were kept there. Others were taken abroad by friends or tourists and smuggled out. We collected all of them. First we exhibited them in a private museum in Hamburg. Now they returned to Chile's Museo de la Memoria. Many pictures were made in prison. They are part of Chile's history. The Chileans are lucky to have a director who started a film series about anonymous heroes. Not only famous people fought against the regime, normal people did it to. People, noone remembers. The young audience didn't know that this artist existed. Everyone thought that art was living through dark days during that time. But that's not true.
During Allendes period you could speak about everything, you could express yourself freely. After the coup you weren't allowed to do anything. You weren't allowed to walk on the streets after 11am. Only two persons or less, otherwise you would get arrested. Men had to keep their hair short; women weren't allowed to wear trousers - and if they did so, their pants got cut. You could see and feel the change. There was fear everywhere. You didn't know if your neighbors collaborated with the Junta. Many people got killed, many of our friends just "disappeared", others went into exile.
Then there was the secret agency. They arrested people and tortured them. The press was censored. You couldn't do anything about it. However the women organized themselves. Nobody states it. In fact they were the first ones that took onto the streets: the mothers, wives and sisters of those men who got arrested. They looked for them everywhere.
Eleven years long we were banned officially, there was no possibility for us to travel to Chile. In 1991 I was one of the few that could go back to Chile. During those years we had no contact to our family, everyone was afraid that something could happen to someone.
One day Miguel's father got arrested. He disappeared for two months in a secret prison. Because of pressure from abroad they couldn't let him "disappear" completely. He was kept in a regular prison. The secret agency tried several times to kidnap him out of it. Because of him there were fights between the police against the secret agency.
It was a mistake to let him free before the lawsuit came to an end. The paperwork was already completed in Germany. On a Saturday we were informed that Hugo should be banned in southern Chile. He had to go to his lawyer to deal with it. On the same day he got kidnapped. Shortly after, he was found dead. We assume that he was kidnapped, tortured and killed. They tried to get rid of him and threw him in a river in the mountains. But his body got caught in the bushes. After all someone found him.
Hugo used to say: If I die I will write resistance ("Resistencia") with my blood if possible. Next to his body there was a box with his blood on it. We don't know if he or someone else did it. This will stay an enigma forever.
© Ananda Bräunig