The white boat in the dark past

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    Dominique Lelièvre

    Monday, 17 July, 2017 01:15

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    Monday, 17 July, 2017 01:15

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    Among the tall ships that accosteront Tuesday at the Port of Québec, the Esmeralda will not fail to attract attention. The chilean community of Québec is intended, however, that his troubled past does not fall into oblivion.

    Symbol of purity for the chilean navy, the majestic four-masted white, long 113 meters, also refers to the punishment for the Chileans, who have lived near or far, the bloody regime of general Pinochet, from 1973 to 1990. The ship would then have served as a centre of detention and torture, and many persons were killed.

    To the secretary of the Centre of the chilean, Pablo Neruda, Quebec, Nancy Diaz, it is not a question of opposing the coming of the ship-to-school, but rather to inform “the people of the city that those on the boat.” A demonstration is scheduled for Saturday, to this end.

    Omerta denounced

    The association denounces the omerta that would reign always on board the Esmeralda, and deplores the fact that the visitors and several members of the crew are not aware of the sad facts. When groups come aboard, “they talk about everything except repression,” says Ms. Diaz.

    “For us, it would be ideal if there was for example, on the boat, a plate, enough for all the people that visit it and all the young people are trained to be able to read that this boat, such a date to such date, served as a prison, that we had tortured people and that some of them are dead.”

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    The Centre also considers that one has not done full justice to the victims and their loved ones. Several leaders of the dictatorship remain unpunished to this day, ” says Ms. Diaz.

    “For a lot of Chileans who are of immigrant background or who are political exiles, these memories are pretty sad”, recalls Pierre Roy-Valdebenito, whose parents fled the Pinochet regime. That said, Esmeralda is “a magnificent boat that is worth to be seen,” he adds.

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