The Puchuncaví Prisoners Camp had a daily routine similar to that of military regiments. In a ridiculous ceremony, the flag was raised every morning at dawn and then it was taken down at nightfall.
We would arrive marching and singing military songs to the place where the flagpole was located and, when the order was given, it was our duty to sing the National Anthem.
This was unpleasant in itself because no prisoner would have wanted to have anthems in common with those people.
But, looking at it with different eyes, it also was amusing, because it gave us another chance to sing at the top of our voices the line that goes: “Que o la tumba serás de los libres, o el asilo contra la opresión” (May you be the grave of the free or the refuge from oppression).
We greatly enjoyed placing great emphasis on that part of the song. It must have been the only act of open subversion that the military could never punish us for, even though surely many must have wanted to.
It would have been hard for a rank-and-file soldier to justify mistreating political prisoners to his boss for an enthusiastic rendition of the National Anthem.
Published on: 25 September 2015
pure breezes traverse you besides,
and your field of embroidered flowers
is the happy copy of Eden.
Majestic is the white mountain
that the Lord gave you for bulwark
and that sea that serenely bathes you
promises the splendour to come.
[Your names, courageous soldiers,
who have been the pillar of Chile,
are engraved on our breasts,
our children will know it besides.]*
Sweet Fatherland, receive the vows
which Chileans swore on your altar.
May you be the tomb of the free
or their refuge against oppression.
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