Santiago show - Ghosts in the machine.

11 February 1998
Santiago show - Ghosts in the machine.
Santiago show - Ghosts in the machine. The lemon is saved, but there are many uncomfortable resonances from Chile's dark past in the stadium and the city. No one wants to dig too deep.

Santiago, Chile. Show day. Well, the elastic band arrived on time so all is well in Lemon Land. Just as well, given that this show goes out live on national TV here. The stadium has undergone something of a facelift since the last time I was here (just a few months after Pinochet was ousted). They have taken a million yards of raw canvas and done an "Arabian Nights" job on every room and corridor in the place. This makes it all a little stuffy, but does serve to disguise the memory of the atrocities committed in this building. It was pretty grim beforehand - the place having been used to hold, torture and kill countless "undesirables" once Pinochet came to power. Its a hard thing to say, but when you've got a gig to do, its probably best to just get on with it and not dwell too much on the history of the building.

Having said that, though, Chile's Mothers of the Disappeared made a stage appearance tonight, and Bono made an appeal (on live TV, remember) to 'Mr. Pinochet' to "tell these women where their children are, so they can bury them and put them to rest". He also spoke about a country (any country) needing to deal with the past in order to face the future. It was interesting that in Argentina this sentiment got such overwhelming support from the audience, but here in Chile there were noticeably mixed opinions in the house. This is a beautiful, modern city (quite unrecognisable from when I was here in 1990) and it's a beautiful, peaceful country, but you can't help but feel its a fragile peace. (A rather strange 'city guide' in my hotel room makes the dubious boast that "in the main, Chile has been a very democratic country with only four periods of dictatorship in its entire history"). Now that on the surface all seems to be well here, the U.S. commercial invasion is in full swing (McDonald's is offering its latest promotional burger; the "McNifico"). We've had a crew joke, particularly in reference to the brand new shopping mall next to our hotel which looks like it just descended from suburban USA, "is this Santiago or San Diego?". There's a strong sense of "nobody dig too deep and it'll all be just fine". I hope so, its such a beautiful place, but along with Blockbuster Video, Radio Shack and Benetton there's a lot of ghosts lurking here.

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