This past weekend was busy. We had a mega field trip on Saturday that consisted of a trip to Villa Grimaldi, a history class, and a trip to the Museo de la Memoria y Derechos Humanos (Memory and Human Rights Museum). The class and the museum were great but I’m gonna talk about our first outing.
Villa Grimaldi was one of the many centers used by DINA (the secret police) to torture political prisoners during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. It’s located in Peñalolen, Santiago, one of the comunas that is in the foothills. Before the dictatorship it was a little getaway for the owners, but during Pinochet’s regime it turned into something completely different.
Our group got a really interesting lesson on this from Pedro Alejandro Matta, a man who had been imprisoned and tortured at Villa Grimaldi. He has since done a lot of research on the site and has built an amazingly detailed model of the property. Before he took us there he gave us an overview of how the center was used, what the process was when someone was brought there and went into detail about the torture. It was hard to hear about, but I think necessary to be able to understand what happened. This lesson was extremely helpful once we were actually there because most of the buildings were destroyed by the dictatorship right before it ended.
On the actual property Pedro again walked us through the torture, but actually on location. This was really powerful. He showed us everything that he had gone over in the classroom and also told us his whole story and experience. What was really amazing was that he kept stressing that this was not a unique experience; what happened to him happened to thousands and thousands of others – many of whom were not lucky enough to survive. It was an extremely interesting trip and I am so glad we were fortunate enough to have such an amazing guide.