2013 marks 40 years since a bloody military coup overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile, a brutal event played out to millions across the world. In the years that followed over 3,000 people were killed or disappeared, many thousands more were jailed and tortured and around 200,000 were displaced.
The United Kingdom received over 2,000 of these political refugees who sought asylum from persecution while back home the dictatorship endured for a further 18 years. Consequently, many Chileans black-listed by the military junta were unable to return and Britain became their permanent home. Communities of Chilean exiles settled throughout the UK in towns and cities including London, Cambridge, Liverpool, Birmingham and Edinburgh. They not only used each other for support, but found a solidarity amongst many of the British public, most of whom had no previous connection with Chile. Help came from groups such as the Chilean Solidarity Campaign, university student unions and individuals who volunteered their time and resources to help the Chilean exiles settle in and move on with their lives.
Our film aims to record those early experiences of 1970s and 1980s Britain in the hope of producing a valuable document of a special time in Cambridge and the UK’s cultural history. We talk to the British that helped, the Chileans that came and their children, now grown, who stayed. What was that experience like, where did the solidarity come from and what is the relevance, if any, to our world today.