- Exiliados, emigrados y retornados: Chilenos en América y Europa, 1973-2004
Entrenched in modern Chilean identity is the indelible memory of Pinochet's 1973 military coup that divided a nation and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their country. The author of six books dealing mainly with the Pinochet aftermath, José del Pozo Artigas brings together in this collection of essays eight different perspectives on the Chilean experience of exile, emigration, and the dubious process of reconciliation. The readings will prove of equal interest to scholars of other Southern Cone countries—Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil, in particular—that underwent similar diasporas under military dictatorships, and to those interested in the subjects of exile and migration in general.
Inevitably there is much repetition within the eight essays, primarily in the contextual information that the authors provide as background to their respective studies. One advantage of this repetition is that it corroborates many of the conclusions reached by each of the contributors, giving the book an overall sense of cohesion and [End Page 198] accuracy. For instance, independent of where Chileans have migrated—to Europe, to other Latin American countries, or to Canada—the patterns are the same. There was a first wave of political refugees, the exiles, and then, owing to the recession of the 1980s, a subsequent increase in emigration consisting of people in search of improved economic opportunities, and, finally, a wave of returnees nearing the end of the military dictatorship in 1990. Other commonalities among the essays that suggest conclusive outcomes from the book as a whole include studies of the psychological effects of exile, coping mechanisms, continued political activity, integration into the workforce, generational and gender differences, and the negative experience of reintegration into Chilean society. Indeed, for this reviewer the most poignant reading comes in the closing essay that details the many prejudices faced by Chileans returning from exile who, after decades of yearning for the homeland, end up bitterly disappointed.
Sociologist Claudio Bolzman's opening essay establishes a historical framework outlining the economic, cultural, and socio-political developments that led to South American migration to Europe throughout the twentieth century. Adopting Weber's concept of "ideal types," Bolzman's analysis of migratory patterns draws on thorough research and, in consequence, provides the most convincing overview of the collection. The essays that follow present more detailed perspectives, such as a study of the precarious circumstances surrounding the Chilean embassy in Sweden, a country that proved especially sympathetic to Chilean refugees due to their government's previous interest in democratic socialism. Chilean exiles also received an unprecedented welcome in France, as evidenced in a study of interviews conducted with political refugees and the ensuing second generation born in France. In both countries we see parallel processes of integration, the resultant identity crises, and the protracted transformation from Chilean (awaiting return) to émigré (residing in Europe).
The focus shifts from Europe to the Americas with essays about Chilean migration to Brazil, Mexico, and Quebec. The critical difference concerning the Chileans in Sao Paulo is that they were not political refugees, but rather professionals who, unconcerned with Brazil's military dictatorship, were looking to capitalize on the country's exceptional economic growth. One of the more notable conclusions of this study draws attention to the gender discrepancy whereby women who accompanied their husbands to Sao Paulo were less likely to resume their careers or to become integrated into Brazilian society.
In two further essays the role of Chilean associations in Mexico and Quebec is examined. Archival research of the Casa de Chile in Mexico provides details of how this organization administered the generous support from government agencies and other international solidarity groups to fund their political and cultural activities. Though the multiple organizations studied in Quebec did not receive similar financial [End Page 199] backing, their sustained efforts fostered comparable activities: denunciation of the Pinochet regime, mediation between Chilean identity and a new society, and the cultivation of solidarity. The collection includes a...