Global Topics: Global Violence
Professor Joyce Apsel
12 May 2014
Gonzalo’s Miracle: Necessary Violence and Whitewashing History in the 2004 Chilean film Machuca
The passive young son of a well-to-do Chilean family enters his luxurious new home in a Santiago suburb. His opulently dressed mother greets him at the door, kisses him on the cheek and asks if he is happy in the family’s new home. The boy remains silent. This final scene of Chilean director Andrés Wood’s 2004 film Machuca appears to be one of gleaming optimism - of an educated, aristocratic family relishing the benefits of the first leg of Chile’s modern ‘economic miracle.’ However, the characteristically bright eyes of the cherub-faced boy, Gonzalo, are darkened by the gruesome events he had just witnessed in the midst of his nation’s 1973 military coup d’état. Present during a bloody military raid on one of the capital’s sprawling shantytowns, Gonzalo had just watched his indigent best friend, Machuca, being rounded up and sent to a military death camp (Machuca). His family’s newfound wealth was consequent of Chile’s successful and widely-praised neoliberal economic model, which was implemented by way of the brutal suppression of it challenger - the politically-powerful, socialist-aligned lower class. In his intimately told film, director Andrés Wood addresses a country that extols its prosperity while speaking in hushed tones of the atrocities committed against its proletariat. Wood demands that his audience look beyond the façade of Gonzalo’s lavish new home and recognize that his wealth - and indeed the nation’s wealth - was made possible only by bloodshed.
The audience, through Gonzalo’s brief friendship with Machuca, catches a glimpse of the ‘disa...
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... New York:
Metropolitan/Henry Holt, 2007. Print.
Klein, throughout various accounts of U.S. involvement overseas, explains that the U.S. commonly engages in a practice of ‘shock therapy.’ The U.S. brings bloodshed and warfare to foreign nations in order to restructure their economies and governments to serve U.S. interests. In the case of Chile, Klein argues that the U.S., in the midst of Cold War paranoia, wanted to maintain its political and economic hegemony in South America. Washington accordingly whipped the Chilean army into an anti-Allende, anti-communist frenzy, bringing about the bloodshed of ‘the Caravan of Death’ as well as the years of tyrannical military dictatorship. Also significant was the fact that the neoliberal economics implemented in Chile were taught to Chilean economists of the junta by Americans at the University of Chicago.