Franco Urbina standing in a dimly lit corridor
Photo: My father, Francisco Urbina, in the corridors under the seats of 
Santiago's National Stadium, where thousands of political prisoners were held.

Radio: Black Box – breaking the silence of my father’s past

Last September, Chile marked the 40th anniversary of the military coup that toppled elected Marxist President Salvador Allende, on September 11, 1973. The coup led to 17 years of brutal dictatorship under General Augusto Pinochet that deeply affected so many families, like my own.

The anniversary gave me chance to talk to my father about what had happened to him during that dark time, something he’d never talked about before with anyone.

The very night of the coup, at 16 years of age, he was taken prisoner with my grandfather, one of my uncles and a family friend. They ended up in Santiago’s National Stadium, where thousands of political prisoners were taken in the hours and days following the coup. They were held for more than a month. That experience and what was to follow changed him.

My radio documentary, Black Box, tells the story of what my father went through, how he kept it bottled up and how that silence affected him and his family and our relationship.

It originally aired on CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition in January 2014.

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