Jan Sandquist: "The military raided my office when I left Chile with Ambassador Edelstam in 1973"

By Mario Casasus; August 16, 2013
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In a telephone interview from Stockholm, Jan Sandquist (1932) Swedish documentary recalls Neruda's funeral: "We went to his house in Santiago, immediately after they brought the body of the Clínica Santa María, the house was completely destroyed, Matilde was with some friends in front of the coffin of the poet, not sure what to do, we shot a little. Suddenly a military troop, the vehicle got an army officer to greet Matilde, said it came as a government representative to express condolences, gave the greeting and went, Matilde told us: 'at least military had to remove your beret and show your respect '. After the funeral procession started from La Chascona the General Cemetery ". In 1973, Sandquist Edelstam interviewed Ambassador: "Paul was lying in bed reading a book half-paralyzed. It seemed terribly saddened by what is happening in the country. His desire was, the next day to travel to Mexico to report what is really happening in Chile. That was his last wish, but not fulfilled "(documentary Quote: Santiago. Ciudad raped).

MC. - When started his journalistic work in Santiago de Chile?

JS. - In 1963, I worked in Chile for 10 years as a correspondent for Swedish television, until December 1973.

MC. - I knew his work by Neruda's funeral filmed in the documentary: "Santiago. City violated "(1973). He interviewed the poet? During the decade in Swedish television correspondent?

JS. - Pablo Neruda I met three or four times, in Santiago and Isla Negra. I always had to explain that I was visiting on behalf of the Swedish Academy, Neruda thought that every interview request was a Swedish journalist with the news of the Nobel Prize for Literature. When I arrived in Isla Negra, in 1969 - Pablo Neruda said, "I do not want to talk politics, political poems I wrote in May, but the rest of my poetry is not political", the Nobel Prize was an obsession with him, not to talk about Swedish television policy, however I was interested in his presidential bid.
I'll tell you a story: Pablo Neruda always wanted to be filmed with the swell, profile looking left, once we were talking about his poetry when he got very angry wife Matilde Urrutia, told us, "out of my house! , Paul you should run these two journalists of our house! "Paul did not understand the reaction of Matilda, that day they received a copy of an article by two Italian journalists about" communist who lived like a king "(sic) . Matilde Urrutia was furious with reporters, Neruda tried to calm her, but had to leave, we had lunch at an inn of Isla Negra where Neruda became a relative to apologize: "Uncle Paul is very concerned and sad, is very embarrassed by the way they left home, invites to apologize in person. " My colleague and I were outraged cameraman and Neruda's relative responded, "No, thanks", he went to give the message to Neruda, but the relative returned: "Uncle Paul is very sad, have to return" finally accept accompany him to the poet's house, arriving saw Neruda and his wife Matilde now was grinning like a sun (laughs). I did not understand at all your change in attitude, surely Matilde Neruda explained the importance of the interview for Swedish television.

MC. - You interviewed Edelstam ambassador: "Paul was lying in bed reading a book half-paralyzed ... His desire was, the next day to travel to Mexico to report what is really happening in Chile" (09/25/1973). When they learned of the transfer of Neruda to Clinica Santa Maria?

JS. - The same day that he was admitted in the Clinic, Edelstam Ambassador told me that someone had informed and decided to accompany the diplomat Ulf Hjertonsson to the Santa Maria Clinic on September 22, 1973. I never tried to visit Pablo Neruda in the clinic, we had many things to do, I hope you forgive me, but the health of Neruda was a detail in the midst of the tragedy of the coup. Then I lost track of Neruda, until the day of the funeral in the General Cemetery, I went with my new photographer. I do not know if you know that my photographer Leonardo Henrichsen was killed on June 29, 1973, filmed his own death during Tanquetazo.

MC. - I know, the journalist Ernesto Carmona gave me a copy of the documentary "Final image”...

JS. - With my new photographer and the soundman went to Pablo Neruda's house in Santiago, immediately after they brought the body of the Clínica Santa María, Neruda's house was completely destroyed, was Matilda with some friends in front of the coffin the poet did not know what to do, we shot a little. Suddenly a military troop, the vehicle got an army officer to greet Matilde Urrutia, said it came as a government representative to express condolences, gave the greeting and went, Matilde told us: "At least the military had to remove the beret and show their respect. " After the funeral procession started from La Chascona the General Cemetery, was very dramatic, I do not know if you've seen a movie about Neruda's funeral.

MC. - Yes, I remember the images of the streets in the documentary "September Chile" (1973) Frenchman Bruno Muel. Unlike you who filmed within the General Cemetery...

JS. - Is that we were in the house of Neruda and the photographer had to rush to the General Cemetery to await the arrival of the coffin, I was walking along the Edelstam ambassador, at first were few people, all of us were scared, but they were coming more people, military troops were half hidden by the streets, the military did not know if they thought intervene, when we arrived at General Cemetery, someone started to read the poetry of Pablo Neruda's poems recited others who remembered, then someone began to sing the Internationale, was heard softly, but in the end, hundreds of people sang the Internationale and shouted: Pablo Neruda present, now and forever, I worried when they shouted: "Communist Youth of Chile! and the Chilean Communist Party, "I thought that the military would not allow political slogans, leaving the General Cemetery ended my story with Pablo Neruda.

MC. - Walked with Ambassador Edelstam to feel protected by his diplomatic immunity?

JS. - Do not remember if other ambassadors were the cemetery, perhaps presented the ambassador of France (Pierre de Menthon) and Ambassador of Mexico (Gonzalo Martinez Corbalá). For the Swedish ambassador was important Neruda's funeral to show their respect for the poet and condemn military Edelstam remained in Chile until December 1973 when the military declared him "Persona Non Grata", I left the same day of Chile, together with the Swedish ambassador. Some friends warned me that the military could arrest me.

MC. -After the coup, have you asked to submit a new immigration process for credit as foreign press correspondent?

JS. - I lived in Chile, had my papers in order, the military did not ask for a special procedure to film. I returned to Chile a year later (1974) to make another documentary, this time I had to apply for a permit to film I refused, so I had to film secretly. From September to December 1973 I sent my notes to radio and television in Sweden, the military turned their attention to my work, when I left the country with Ambassador Edelstam, raided my offices in Santiago, broke everything. I got out just in time, my wife and children remained in Chile, came by car from Santiago to Valparaiso to board an Italian ship to Panama, were very dramatic days, we are a month and a half after the Panama Canal.

MC. - The documentary "Santiago. City violated "(1973) no subtitles in Spanish, is there any possibility to translate it?

JS. - There is no copy with subtitles in Spanish, there was no reason to, Swedish television had no interest in making a copy in Spanish. Two months ago I was in Santiago, I visited the Museum of Memory but not have the means to make a copy in Spanish, I'll try, there is now great interest in the history of the coup.

MC. - Finally, participate in political and cultural activities for the 40th anniversary of the Pinochet coup?

JS. - I am a member of the board of the Edelstam Foundation, our mission is to explain to the citizens of Sweden: who was the ambassador Edelstam?, A couple of days ago I was interviewed by my colleagues on Swedish TV coup and the Swedish ambassador's humanitarian work in 1973. I am very well connected with the Chileans and Latin Americans living in Stockholm, last night I was talking to a group of Chileans and Uruguayans, we talked about what we could do on September 11, will form part of the events with some speeches. What happened in Chile is very much alive to me.

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