The National Stadium
Chile’s National Stadium is a site which is both a place of entertainment and painful memory. Following Pinochet’s coup on September 11, 1973, the National Stadium became a temporary torture site for political opponents of Pinochet. The stadium was only used for torture purposes for two months, but held up to 20,000 prisoners during this time. Prisoners were generally tortured beneath the stadium, often beaten against the concrete structures beneath the stadium’s surface. By November 9, 1973, all prisoners had been killed or moved to other torture sites, in preparation for a World Cup match against the Soviet Union that was to take place in the stadium. The picture above on the left was taken by Chilean photographer and journalist, Marcelo Montecino, but many other pictures of torture activities at the stadium came from FIFA Officials who inspected the site prior to its closure. However, while some prisoners were visible in the stands, many others were hidden and told to keep quiet during the inspection. (https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/19/sports/soccer/in-chiles-national-stadium-dark-past-shadows-copa-america-matches.html and https://www.digitalrev.com/article/exclusive-interview-with-chilean-photojournalist-marcelo-montecino)
Only a few miles away at another national stadium (the Stadium of Chile), the high profile murder of Chilean artist Víctor Jara took place. Jara was a popular singer, guitarist and member of Chile’s communist party. Almost immediately after Pinochet’s coup, he was taken to the stadium “where he was tortured in front of other prisoners [...] His body was found days later, riddled with bullets. Soldiers had crushed his fingers, telling him he would never be able to play his guitar again.” His murder was fairly public and meant to send a message from the dictatorship to the Chilean people that communism would not be tolerated and that those suspected of having communist ties would be persecuted. (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-44709924)
The abuse many suffered at these national stadiums is not to be forgotten. The Stadium of Chile has been renamed after Victor Jara. Not far away at the National Stadium, there is a small memory museum to honor those who suffered and whose lives were lost there. While in Chile, I had the opportunity to take a guided tour of the National Stadium. The tour I went on is open to the public and brought Chilean and international visitors through many of the detention sites at the stadium. These tours are designed with the purpose of educating the public of the stadium’s dark past which is often forgotten amidst the energetic and lively nature of the stadium today.