Chilean Torontonians say cold reception, not cold weather behind speaker’s absence

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival recently screened the film The Battle of Chile at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The film’s guest speaker, Jose Miguel Vivanco, the director of Human Rights Watch for the Americas did not show to introduce the film, as advertised.

The HRW stated that the weather made it impossible for Vivanco to fly in that night however a member of  Toronto’s Chilean community believes local opposition to to Vivanco prompted the no-show.

The Battle of Chile documents the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende by Augusto Pinochet in 1973.

The brutal acts against human rights that where captured in this film reflects a dark time in Chile’s history. The HRW chose this documentary film because of the film’s importance in Chile’s history.

The organization also chose the guest speaker, Vivanco because of his work as a lawyer and activist for human rights in Chile and South America.

Casa Salvador Allende-Toronto, the Chilean-Canadian Cultural Society, strongly opposed Vivanco being associated in anyway with this film. They say that Vivanco does not have a history with human rights in Chile.

President of CSAT, Patricio Bascunan, felt that Vivanco was not the right person to speak on behalf of a film that Chilean people respect.

They sent a letter to the festival and to Human Rights Watch stating their opposition to Vivanco speaking that night; they were told in a response that the rights group could chose whomever they wanted to speak.

When hearing that Vivanco did not show up to read his speech, Bascunan felt that maybe Vivanco had got the message.

Media relations manager for HRW, Jasmine Herlt, said that bad weather stopped Vivanco from coming and nothing else. “It was bad weather. We were looking forward to having him,” Herlt said. In Vivanco’s absence Herlt  read out his speech.

Filed by Michelle Nash

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Posted: Mar 6 2009 5:38 pm
Filed under: News

1 Comment on "Chilean Torontonians say cold reception, not cold weather behind speaker’s absence"

  1. well thanks for the update mrs nash,toronto needs it,its journalist like you that keep our community updated…good job,colin.

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