Hora Chilena film screening and discussion with film makers
by Stephen Hewitt
On Monday 20 October 2014 in Mill Lane Cambridge the locally-made film Hora Chilena was shown to tens of people and followed by discussion and audience questions with with two of its creators, Camila Iturra and Lautaro Vargas and two other people, Cambridge academic David Lehmann and Guardian journalist Grace Livingstone.
Interviewed in the film, Jeremy Corbyn said that at the time of the coup he had a friend who worked in Reuters. The friend was on the telephone to him throughout the night informing him of the progress of the coup as it happened.
Grace Livingstone said it was a "wonderful film", and told us some of the things she has found in the British National Archives about Britain and the military coup. The planes that bombed the presidential palace (Palacio de la Moneda) were Hawker Hunter jets made in Britain. After the coup trade unions refused to work on arms for the Chilean military. After Harold Wilson became prime minister, the government stopped new arms sales to Chile but allowed existing contracts to be honoured. This was not enough for at least some trade unions and at Rolls Royce Glasgow they refused to work on engines for the Chilean air force and would not allow anyone else to touch them either, so they remained for years sitting in the factory.
She said that in the archives there was a large amount of correspondence from the public, including David Lehmann (sitting next to her). Later she added that Britain was friendly to all the dictators, and Chile was an exception "because there was this mass movement".
In audience questions and discussion people recalled what had happened in Cambridge. For example Labour party wards had adopted people imprisoned in Chile and organised letter writing campaigns and as a result some people were released. Someone said that Frank Bell of the Bell language school was very generous to people in trouble. He had been a POW in Japanese hands himself.
Camila announced that extended interview footage not included in the film was going to be available on their website horachilena.co.uk but not yet.
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- Guardian article: Uncovering Britain's secret role in protecting Chile's 1973 coup (external link) Grace Livingstone, Guardian, 11 September 2013
- Latin American Bureau article: Hora Chilena: Chilean refugees in Cambridge in a Britain at ease with itself (external link) David Lehmann, Latin American Bureau, 22 January 2014