Isabel Allende says 'brutal' protests evoke memories of Chile's past



BERLIN, Laura Almanza and Gaby Mahlberg (dpa)- Isabel Allende, Chile's most internationally known writer, said it is "brutal" watching the violent protests and rioting that have unfolded in her home country.
"The young people protesting on the streets were not born at the time of the military coup," Allende told dpa in an interview.




"Older people like me who lived at the time know what it means when soldiers are on the street," she said.
In 1973 the military ousted the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende, a relative of Isabel Allende.
She fled Chile in 1975 during the country's military dictatorship, which lasted until 1990. She has lived in the United States for 30 years.
"I believe that the enormous force with which the people are currently protesting in Chile is not ideologically or politically or motivated. It is really the anger and desperation of people who feel the system is unfair."
"Everything is privatized - education, health care, transport, water, light, electricity - everything is in private hands. That's what makes people so angry," she said.
Deadly nationwide protests, sparked last month by metro fare hikes, evolved into more general demonstrations against inequality. There have also been riots, looting and vandalism that have caused significant destruction.
The unrest prompted the government to institute a state of emergency and curfew. Soldiers patrolled the streets, evoking memories of life under the military dictatorship.
Allende's 1993 debut novel "The House of Spirits," which tells the generation-spanning saga of the Trueba family in Chile, was met with critical praise and launched her into international stardom.
Now 77 years old, Allende continues to write in Spanish. In her most recent novel, "A Long Petal of the Sea," due to be published in English in January, Allende tells the story of the refugees who travelled to Chile on the SS Winnipeg at the end of the Spanish Civil War.
For her research she spoke to contemporary survivors, the author told dpa.
"I'm never short of topics, inspiration or ideas. What I need is time. And it is difficult to find the discipline to sit down and write," she said. "It is difficult to sit in front of the computer for six, eight or 10 hours."
Allende, who has written 23 books, usually starts her new works on January 8, she told dpa. On this day she started her first novel "The House of Spirits."
"Things went so well with this book that I decided to start the second and the third one on the same day," she added. "I have to arrange my year to find a few months of peace and solitude to write."
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Saturday, November 2nd 2019
Laura Almanza and Gaby Mahlberg (dpa)
           


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