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Chilean refugees to restore 40-year-old hidden mural

WORK has begun restoring a mural discovered behind plaster on a wall at Leeds University created by political refugees who fled Chile after the 1973 military coup.

Socialists and trade unionists across Britain welcomed Chileans fleeing imprisonment and torture following the coup that saw the overthrow of the elected socialist government of president Salvador Allende, taking them into their homes and helping create long-term accommodation and work.

In 1976 a group of them created the mural, which was around the theme “work for all.”

Over the years the mural disappeared as the room was re-decorated but it was recently rediscovered, in a damaged state.

Two of the original artists, Gilberto Hernandez and Eduardo Espinoza, still live in Leeds and will work on the restoration project, which was launched on Thursday.

Gilberto said: “We were among thousands forced to leave Chile, and found a new refuge in the UK.

“We were very fortunate to have encountered such a welcoming reception here in Leeds.

“Trade unions and politically minded student organisations opened their doors to us and offered to help us settle in our new life.

“Leeds University became the place where many Chileans would come together for meetings, social events and it even enabled some of us to continue our studies which were interrupted by the bloody military coup.

“The creation of this mural was one of the many activities organised to raise awareness of the terrible situation in Chile.”

It is hoped the restoration will be completed in January.


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