...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Monday, June 13, 2005

Chile update, and more liberation theology

When all was said and done, presenting my visa documents (health certificate, HIV test results, police background check, etc) to the Chilean consular and getting the visa itself was the easiest part of the whole process. There was no wrasslin' involved at all. The Chilean consulate in San Francisco operates an outpost in Olympia, Washington; what they don't tell you on the consulate website is that it's run out of this guy's home office in his condominium. When we (my mom, who was helping me with the process, and I) found out, we were a little worried that it was some sort of sketchy operation, but as it turned out, it was all above-board and the consular was as nice as could be. It turns out that he's a Communications and Political Economy professor at Evergreen; while he was stamping the forms, Mom looked over the shelves and shelves of VHS tapes of documentaries he had made. She pointed out to me that many of them seemed to be about Vatican II, the Latin American Church, and liberation theology. I asked him what his connection was to liberation theology, and apparently he was right in the middle of the movement. In 1979 he was sent by the Canadian government (I didn't ask, but I assumed that he was exiled to Canada in 1973 after the coup) to Nicaragua to evaluate the Canadian-sponsored literacy program there, and during the revolution he worked right alongside Ernesto Cardenal, the priest and poet who led the movement in Nicaragua. The consular also studied and worked with Paolo Frei while he was at the University of Chile in Santiago. I mentioned having seen Gustavo Gutiérrez when he came to the University of Oregon in November, and he responded, "Oh yes, Gustavo. He's Peruvian. I know all those guys. We all run in the same circles." It just floored me.

Anyway, after he walked me through what to do with my visa forms after landing in Chile, and talking about how to stay safe and all of that, he asked if I had any questions and I asked him how I could go about continuing to study liberation theology in Chile. He said that a lot of the leaders of the movement were "in the closet"--they've moved underground--so it's a little harder to get involved in than it was in the 70s. Still, he gave me the name and contact information for one of his old professors at the University of Chile, and said that that guy would be able to put me in touch with more people.

Conclusion: Excited!