SAN JUAN – Carlos Weber, a Chilean journalist jailed and tortured in the hours following the Sept. 11, 1973, coup that brought Augusto Pinochet to power, opens up about the experience in a new documentary by Puerto Rican filmmaker Arleen Cruz-Alicea.
Weber, who has lived in Puerto Rico for 27 years, was present for Sunday’s screening of “Cuentas pendientes” (Unsettled Debts) at San Juan’s Teatro Francisco Arrivi.
“Memory is important, because it is in the face of memory that we can know the whole truth,” he told the audience.
Then 19 and living in the Chilean city of Coronel, Weber was a loyal supporter of Socialist President Allende, who took his own life as soldiers stormed the presidential palace on that fateful Sept. 11.
The very day of the coup, troops grabbed Weber, beat him and threw him in prison “solely for having different ideals” than Pinochet, the journalist says in the documentary.
After undergoing torture in detention, Weber left Chile in April 1974 for neighboring Argentina, where he was also arrested and brutalized.
In August 2011, Weber learned that his name was cited by Chile’s Valech Commission in its report on Pinochet-era crimes, which documented the torture of more than 27,000 people under the 1973-1990 military regime.
Becoming aware of the Valech report persuaded Weber that he needed to break his silence and he got in touch with Cruz-Alicea.
On hearing his story, the director decided to accompany Weber to Chile and Argentina and film his conversations with family members, friends and erstwhile political comrades.
“Though he had returned (to Chile) before on other occasions, this journey was distinct,” Cruz-Alicea said of the trip at the center of her documentary, which will be featured during the upcoming San Juan International Fine Arts Film Festival.
“I hope the documentary is capable of sensitizing people in relation to the repercussions the persecution had,” she told EFE.
“Cuentas pendientes” has also been selected for the new international filmmakers section at next month’s 25th Madrid Film Festival.