Clandestine in Chile, By Gabriel Garcia Marquez, trs Asa Zatz

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The Independent Culture

That other 9/11, the date of General Pinochet's 1973 overthrow of Chile's democratically elected president, Salvador Allende, caused just as much heartache and tragedy as its successor.

Along with many who fled Pinochet's reign of torture and murder was film-maker Miguel Littin. Twelve years later, and heavily disguised as a Uruguayan businessman, he returned to Santiago to film ordinary people going about their daily lives, to expose the oppression that still gripped his native land. Marquez later wrote up his story in this moving account, keeping seemingly innocuous details such as Littin's anxiety as he first went through Customs in his disguise. For all the danger of his task, it is the loneliness of his role that comes across most forcibly. When he cannot acknowledge his own mother-in-law in the street, the absurdity of what he is having to do reduces him to tears and conveys the human cost of others' ambitions.

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