Evandro Teixeira. Chile 1973
Dictatorship and Photojournalism
This exhibition retrieves and explores the photographs that Evandro Teixeira took in Chile after the military coup of September 11, 1973, in dialog with the iconic photographs he took of the political struggles in Brazil throughout the 1960s, from the military coup of 1964 to the great popular demonstrations against the regime in 1968.
On September 12, 1973, the day after the military coup that led to the death of President Salvador Allende in the La Moneda presidential palace, in Santiago, Evandro traveled to Chile via Argentina, accompanied by reporter Paulo César de Araújo, as special envoys of the Jornal do Brasil. However, they were detained in Las Cuevas, a town on the border between Argentina and Chile, until September 20, along with about 50 other journalists, awaiting authorization to enter the country, which was not granted until September 21. The Military Junta deliberately closed the borders for ten long days, while promoting a violent and indiscriminate persecution of supporters and sympathizers of the Popular Unity, the coalition of parties that had democratically elected Salvador Allende as president of Chile in 1970. In the first days of the coup, the total number of political prisoners quickly surpassed five thousand, and there was also intense persecution of foreigners, especially those who had been in the country for a long time. Among them were many Brazilians who had gone into exile in Chile in the previous years, especially after 1968, fleeing the torture and extermination promoted by the Brazilian military dictatorship, as shown in the video in this first room of the exhibition.
On September 22, the two foreign correspondents, who had just arrived in Santiago, were taken to the National Stadium by the armed forces to "witness" on the spot the apparent "normality and civility" of the acts of detention and screening of the citizens imprisoned there, and they participated in a collective briefing led by Colonel Jorge Espinoza Ulloa, commander of the detention and torture center installed in the stadium by the Military Junta. It was the largest concentration camp of the Chilean dictatorship, which operated from the first days after the coup until November 9, 1973, and where more than 12,000 political prisoners passed through. On that day, by way of exception, about 15 percent of the prisoners were taken out of the overcrowded cellars and left sparsely distributed in the bleachers, located in places close to the official route organized by the military for the foreign correspondents to take only photographs and film images that reflected the official discourse.
Evandro had already been to the stadium in 1962, when he was a correspondent for Diário de Notícias. He had photographed the World Cup, in which Brazil won its second world championship. He already knew the bleachers, the stands, the access ramps to the changing rooms and the basement. So, both before and after the press conference, he and some other professionals managed to record the unplanned arrival of new political prisoners by the military and to penetrate the basement, where they photographed young students trapped in internal and poorly accessible areas. The basement of the stadium housed overcrowded and unhealthy prisons, from which prisoners were taken daily to other facilities, such as the presidential tribune and the adjacent velodrome, which became sites for interrogations, torture and often brutal murders. It is also known today that these torture centers were ostensibly supported by agents of the Brazilian dictatorship, who brought to Chile electroshock machines that were used to torture political prisoners in Brazil and were used on Chilean and foreign prisoners detained in the stadium.
The images taken by Evandro that day leave no doubt about the extreme violence and barbarity of Augusto Pinochet's regime and its inextricable link to the Brazilian military dictatorship, established by force almost a decade earlier. The French newspaper Le Monde, by the way, would describe this regional collaboration as true Brazilian sub-imperialism.
This text gathers together excerpts from the article "Dictatorship and photojournalism: Evandro Teixeira in Jornal do Brasil 1964-1973", by Sergio Burgi, published in the catalog of the exhibition Evandro Teixeira. Chile 1973. São Paulo: IMS, 2023.