Human Rights in Chile: an Interview with María Luisa Ortiz
Museum of Memory and Human Rights
On January 11, 2010 former president Michelle Bachelet established this museum to honor the victims of human rights violations during Augusto Pinochet’s regime (1973-1990).
The museum follows the timeline of the regime, starting from the 1973 coup led by Augusto Pinochet against the former president, Salvador Allende, and continuing onto the human rights abuses that occurred during that time concerning los desaparecidos, the disappeared men and women who lost their lives opposing the coup, along with the modern-day implications of such an event.
The museum hosts a variety of exhibits and archives revolving around Pinochet’s regime, including "video footage of detention centers, newspaper excerpts from the 1970s and 80s, and interactive photography and audio exhibits." People can share their own histories with the museum, allowing it to grow and become personalized.
One of their main exhibits is of the arpilleras, brightly colored patchwork tapestries created using burlap and cloth by women during the regime. They depict a variety of images, many of them of real-life events of protest and police brutality.
The museum also hosts workshops in which people today can make their own arpilleras on subjects they are passionate about.
Maria Luisa Ortiz
María Luisa Ortiz was born in Santiago, Chile in 1958. She grew up in a leftist family, as her father and brothers were actively involved in the communist party. Following the disappearance of her father, María Luisa took interest in helping others affected by the dictatorship. She began her work in collecting archives and documenting the events of the Pinochet regime during the dictatorship. This became a life-long passion of hers as she feels that teaching the future generations and continuing the conversation about Chile’s history is important.
Before dedicating herself to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights (Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos) as Director of the Collections and Investigation Department, María Luisa involved herself in several other organizations that aimed to help the people of Chile. As she came of age she joined the Committee of the Promotion and Defense of the Rights of the People (Corporación de Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos del Pueblo). She continued her human rights work by aiding in investigating, filing complaints and reports, and bringing cases to court. Additionally, she worked in the Program of Human Rights- Ministry of the Interior and Public Security of Chile (Programa de Derechos Humanos- Ministerio de Interior y Seguridad Pública de Chile) and for the Presidential Commission of Human Rights (Comisión Presidencia de los Derechos Humanos).
To hear María Luisa's insights into memory, history and art, please click below:
Additional Information and Links
The Museum of Memory and Human Rights: https://ww3.museodelamemoria.cl/
The Center for Documentation at the Museum: https://ww3.museodelamemoria.cl/sobre-las-colecciones/
Memoria Viva Site on Fernando Ortiz: https://www.memoriaviva.com/Desaparecidos/D-O/juan_fernando_ortiz_letelier.htm
Villa Grimaldi Site with Speech by María Luisa Ortiz: https://villagrimaldi.cl/noticias/juan-fernando-ortiz-letelier-papa-querido/