Pedro Pascal caught my eye for the first time when I devoured the entire second season of Narcos via Netflix on a gloomy, typically rainy British Saturday. What delighted me most was discovering that he, like I, was the son of Chilean exiles who’d fled Chile due to their sympathies with the controversial Popular Unity Party led by Salvador Allende, during the seventies.
I pictured his parents passage out of Chile. Blood pounding in his mother ears while she filled out the forms at the US embassy, a dangerous hotbed of coup sympathisers.
Baby Pedro would have been born in the thick of it: most likely in a broken hospital more morgue than clinic, heaving with wall to wall piles of cadavers pulled from the bordeaux tide of the River Mapocho and the city’s obliterated shanty towns. The lifeless, anonymous dead more prominent than the emergent lives about to be stomped down by the shiny boots of coordinated military terror.
And thus Balamaceda Pascal went from Hollywood man to ‘Compañero’: a person with the similar trials and tribulations of growing up with a shattered identity as I and a whole generation of Chilean exile offspring, from the same generation of forgotten children: the ones that got away and lived as Pinochet described it ‘the golden exile’: One of the fractured ‘us’.
One night as I scrolled through Pedro Pascal’s Facebook posts, one caught my eye. It was a video for use in Chile where he pledges his support for his cousin’s election in the wealthy Santiago suburb, Lo Barnechea.
Researching Evopoli, the party his cousin is affiliated to, I was filled with disbelief discovering it’s founding father is the notorious Felipe Kast, key member of one of Chile’s murkiest families, the infamous Nazi descended Kast Clan. A family implicated in the murderous crimes of the dictatorship and also one of its principle benefactors.
Felipe Kast is the grandson of escapee Nazi war criminal Michael Kast who faked his identity to avoid prosecution for war crimes in Europe, and as a result, granted safe passage to South America like his other Nazi cronies including Paul Schaffer, cult leader of Colonia Dignidad and Walter Rauff, inventor of the mobile gas chamber who enjoyed a full Nazi funeral upon his death, in Santiago 1984.
According to Kast’s Grandmother Olga writes in her book ‘Mission of Love / Misión de Amor’ Michael disguised his Nazi identity when captured by US troops by destroying his official Third Reich army papers and instead presenting forged credentials from the Red Cross that he purchased in Italy. The murderous tradition of the Kast family thrived during the military dictatorship which aided them to amass personal fortunes and cement their political positions in Chile.
Allegations about the Kast family include collusion with police and soldiers in the murder of dozens of unarmed farmworkers around the region of Linderos. And allowing local military and carabineros (police)to use the Kast’s home and farm as a base, while son Christian is accused of being personally involved in interrogations that led to the torture & murders of peasants sympathetic to Allende.The full extent of Kast involvement in human rights abuses are widely documented in the courts of justice and shocking book by journalists Nancy Guzmán & Javier Rebolledo ‘The Dance of the Crows’.
Discovering Pascal’s link to the newly formed far right party Evopoli more than shook me. Here was a man whose family managed to rip themselves free from the talons of the Condor massacre, seemingly oblivious to the plight of his own family and that of millions of Chileans who had no choice but to flee Chile or face death in concentration camps. And yet here he was plugging Evopoli.
So why does Pascal’s misguided act of apathy matter so much 43 years after the coup and 17 years after the commence of a pitifully flimsy democracy in Chile? Maybe because he is implicitly obeying the direct order of Pinochet to the people of Chile in 1995 when he growled ‘The only solution to the issue of human rights is oblivion’. In other words, forget.
Although baby steps towards tempering justice have been made, Chile has never truly recovered from the wounds of the dictatorship. The 3065 ‘missing’ victims of Pinochet’s massacre of whom the average age was a mere 22, are still unaccounted for and there’s a new controversy as these folks have been issued ballot papers for the upcoming elections, much to the dismay of their grieving families . The 60,000 registered torture victims (there are many more unaccounted for) live on miserable pensions of around £100 per month and are locked in a legal battle for dignified pensions. The majority of ex political prisoners still suffer from the physical and emotional after-effects of torture and a life marginalised by employers and society, unable to afford adequate health care or housing. Or are dying in exile.
The families involved in the genocide of Chilean citizens and the dismantling of Allende’s hard won social structures such as healthcare, schools and universities, are still personally profiting from their ill gotten gains undisturbed, enjoying impunity when they should be behind bars.
Modern Chile has allowed the orchestrators of the coup and human rights atrocities to remain in power, have the upper hand, control and influence public opinion and the media. At present in Chile, victims of the dictatorship continue to push for justice while the Chilean senate blocks reforms and sets assassins free, resulting in uneven justice. New reports of police torturing school age children and the routine use of violence and even forced disappearances against the Mapuche people in the Southern regions, continues to lock Chile into a past that the clans of power refuse to let go lest they lose their privilege.
It is in this context that Pascal’s acute display of Stockholm Syndrome hurts because he is a child of exile, the heir of smashed dreams and broken bones and what he did reflects a lack of awareness about what happened to his family. My family. Chile. Perhaps it hurts because he has unwittingly sided with a genocidal political class that has not been called to account for their complicity in heinous crimes. Because by adding his support he has in effect made a laughing stock of the suffering of his family. And mine.
And so my message-in-a-bottle is sat on his Facebook page waiting to be read quietly in a dank corner where the gloss of Hollywood don’t shine.Whether he will ever examine his inbox or his conscience however, will forever remain a mystery.