The Down/South Archive
SCL-SYD: Politics & Media
Edited by Pablo Leighton

The Down/South Archive is a Latitudes research initiative to create an archival historiography of the political, economic and cultural relations between Australia and Latin America since the 1970s.

Santiago-Sydney has been since four decades ago the most used interconnection, route of travel and common latitude (#33) between Australia and Latin America. This line of investigation explores material that illustrate and witness the history between the two regions, in particular the Chilean case and the connection between politics and media and the culture they create. This section mainly interrogates how the images of Latin America and Australia were manufactured and displayed in each territory. What follows are some cases.


1973: “Three years of destruction”

A 40-page book published by Asociación de Impresores de Chile soon after the coup d’etat, with texts and design by Marcelo Maturana. 

[From “The resident [Chilean] Colony in Australia since 1970. We trust in your plurality of political ideas and in the free game of Australian democracy”]

[From American and Chilean official reports]
In 1973, the American embassy in Santiago observes an “interesting fact” at the publicised exhibition of weaponry by the dictatorship: most of it looks like hunting guns, obsolete pistols of low calibre and “relics of the War of the Pacific” of 1879. If Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity was armed, it did it “poorly” (American Embassy 1973). In Chile, these exhibitions are framed within a so-called Plan Z, an anonymous Popular Unity’s self-coup plan to kill all leftists’ adversaries. In other words, “disinformation manipulated by the Junta” (CIA 2000). Thus, the dictatorship justifies itself, “via rumour and intentional news”, delivering “an internal justification to kill or at least to condone the death of the adversary, attributing to him equal intentions” (Comisión Rettig 1991: 102). The American CIA has denied the authorship of the governmental White Book, where Plan Z was presented, but it has recognised that some of their “collaborators” participated in its writing (2000). Plan Z was never empirically verified and many torture sessions and “interrogations began with questions about weapons…as well as the details of the supposed Plan Z” (Comisión Valech 2004: 163,210).

American Embassy (1973) Airgram to Department of State. General Security Situation as of End October [09/11/73], American Embassy in Santiago, Chile Declassification Project - NARA, Washington: U.S. State Department, http://foia.state.gov/SearchColls/NARA.asp.

CIA (2000) Hinchey Report. CIA Activities in Chile, Central Intelligence Agency, Langley & Washington: U.S. State Department, http://foia.state.gov/Reports/HincheyReport.asp.

Comisión Rettig (1991) Informe de la Comisión Nacional de Verdad y Reconciliación (Informe Rettig), Santiago de Chile: Ministerio del Interior de Chile - Programa de Derechos Humanos, www.ddhh.gov.cl/ddhh_rettig.html.

Comisión Valech (2004) Informe de la Comisión Nacional sobre Prisión Política y Tortura (Informe Valech), Santiago de Chile: Gobierno de Chile, www.comisionvalech.gov.cl/InformeValech.html.

1975: Michelle Bachelet

[From Chilean Foreign Relations Ministry, 20/01/75]

"...this Ministry has been required for information referring the motives of detention of Mrs. ANGÉLICA MARGARITA JERIA GÓMEZ widow of BACHELET and their daughter VERÓNICA MICHELLE BACHELET JERIA, as well it is manifested that Australia is willing to receive both persons in its territory…"


Prime Minister Gough Whitlam

[From http://library.uws.edu.au/whitlam/index.htm]

“Press Release ‘Recent Events in Chile’ 13 September 1973”

“Parliamentary Speech "C.I.A. Allegations" delivered on 24 May 1977 by the Hon Gough Whitlam QC, Leader of the Opposition”

“Diplomatic Passports for Edward Gough Whitlam from 1976 to 1993”

Alan Bond

[From APSI Chilean magazine, 18/01/88: “Alan Bond: A new financier for Pinochet”]
The definite landing of Australian magnate Alan Bond in Chile was featured in a very confidential summary that general Augusto Pinochet put forward to a group of his collaborators [...] The presence in the country of this man of easy smile who looks like am evangelical preacher was for Pinochet a blessing that fell in the right moment: when he needs concrete contributions for the campaign of the regime’s projection

[From The Australian newspaper, 21/01/87]

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