“I love the energy and momentum that this government has, but I think more old people are needed”

Ana Maria Aaron has been dedicated to psychology for more than 50 years. Today, he is one of the most recognized voices when it comes to conflict resolution and crisis intervention.

Coming from a Jewish family, his grandparents came to Chile fleeing extermination in Russia and, despite being conservative and observant of traditions, they were also open and respectful.

However, his story changed forever in November 1974, when a patrol of the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA) detained Diana, her younger sister, only 24 years oldwhom he never saw again.

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mother of three children, today she is an all-terrain granny. She goes into the sea to practice bodysuits with her grandchildren, she likes to dance, play guitar, watch Turkish TV series and, although she knows that wearing knitted vests is not so popular anymore, she still does them.

She is an emeritus professor at the Catholic University, where she continues to teach until now. In addition, her extensive non-academic curriculum also includes having advised Steven Spielberg on a documentary about the Jewish holocaust.

In interview with CNN Intimate, Ana Maria Aron Svigilisky He talked about his passions and analyzed the situation in the country. Likewise, he told details about the disappearance of his sister: “I know we won’t find her”, he confesses.

pandemic lessons

For the psychologist, the pandemic “contacted us more with how we are and, for example, from the point of view of gender, highlighted the number of things women do. We also realized the levels of work madness that we have, that is, that the free time was much less than we should have”.

Aron affirms that during the health crisis, “the two Chiles appeared, which we always knew were there, but they became much more prominent.” “People who live in more precarious situations (…) had a terrible time. Being locked up in a house where you have all the comforts is not the same as being in a small space”.

In the country we also came with a well-deteriorated mental health.
We are a country that does not have good levels of quality of life. From the start, we know that we work more than the rest of the world, we do not produce more, but we work more hours. We have this thing of spending many more hours at work than in family or leisure life.

We come from many decades that we must repair. The dictatorship taught us that we had to distrust and then the capitalist system that one has to manage alone.
Trust is one of the things on which human groups are based (…). Events like the dictatorship fracture trust and that creates climates of insecurity. Today we know that when someone is in an insecure environment, for whatever reason, their alarm systems are activated and functions such as creativity are deactivated.

How is trust rebuilt?
Trust is rebuilt in spaces of intimacy. It is not a decree. You trust those you know, because you can’t trust someone because they told you they were trustworthy. Then, the conversation spaces must be recoverable.

How do you see the current government?
I love the energy and momentum that this government has, but I think we need more old people, and not even old, older people, who regulate a little, because life is like that (…). We all have to be together, that is diversity and diversity is wealth.

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—You do group interventions, how do you work in a group?
We should always do group work. Something happened that distorted us (…) and made us think that people were one by one, that the problems were of one, from the navel inwards, when the truth is that we are social animals and group work is infinitely easier that one by one

According to Aron, the idea of ​​starting to work in a group “many professionals are scared (…), but the group works alone, it is not that you have to work several times. One creates a context of welcome, of support, which is strengthened with the resources we have, and the group leaves alone.

—You worked in Antuco, after the tragedy where 44 soldiers and a sergeant died.
It was difficult and a very traumatic thing, especially for me, since many people told me ‘you have a sister who has been detained and disappeared, how are you going to work with the army?’ and I answered that the children who died there and their families had nothing to do with the soldiers who made my sister disappear.

live the loss

Diana, the younger sister of Ana María, embraced the ideas of the left during the Popular Unity government. At the time of the military coup, her parents, Perla and Elías, were living in Israel, Raúl, the middle child, had emigrated to study in the United States and only the two of them were in Chile.

Diana was super on the left and your family for nothing.
In ideological terms, my family was on the right, but they felt compassion for people with problems. My house was a shelter, there was no one who did not have a problem in the community -or outside the community- who did not come to my house. There was a very strong social thing.

—But your parents decided to leave during the Unidad Popular.
They decided to leave and left mainly for Diana as well, since she was very committed. My sister began to be leftist at the Catholic University.

Diane’s partner belonged to Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR), when do you know that there are problems and that she does not appear?
They arrested her on a Tuesday and I found out on Wednesday. Dianita was 24 years old and I didn’t know what to do and she decided to go to the police station to talk to Police (…). I went with my one-year-old daughter, I spoke with the lieutenant and I told him ‘I just found out that my sister was arrested and I don’t dare go to her house alone, let’s see if you can lend me a couple of police officers to come with me ‘.

“The lieutenant got up and told me ‘ma’am, we can’t accompany you, we can’t get involved in that, but please don’t go, especially with your little girl, because these roosters stay inside the house and wait to see who goes and they take them all. I had the key to my sister’s house, but that’s where my sanity went down, I went home and I understood that it was crazy to have gone there”, he recounts.

And how did you continue?
I started talking to everyone I could think of who could help me. She was alone here and with a husband who was not exactly on the left, so she was very lonely. I went to my friends (…) and began the journey, to search, to talk, it was all very difficult.

A pity that persists

The psychologist filed the first appeals for protection, knocked on doors, asked questions, toured detention centers, but so far there are no answers. Diana is one of the 1,200 disappeared detainees and Ana María dedicated a large part of her life to her search and to working from her experience to make society a little better.

I looked for her for many years, I think until her partner, Luis, was arrested.. At that time it was very difficult to get in touch, but I received a phone call once from someone I don’t know and he told me ‘they gave me your phone number, I want to tell you that Luis, Diana’s partner, is in Tres Álamos and wants me to go see him “, it states.

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Ana María narrates that she went to the detention center and talked with him. “I saw him in appalling psychological conditions (…). He had been physically tortured a lot, but psychologically with the Diana, and they finally told him that she had died and he told mebut this was five or six years after they had arrested her.”

Regarding the possibility of finding his remains, he affirms that “he is at peace.” “I already said goodbye to my sister and I know that we will not find her. They said that the detainees who were in the Military Hospital, and who died there, were thrown into the sea and i think there it is“, recognize.

Could you duel?
I think so, talking a lot. I started talking about her, because one of the things that happened during the dictatorship was the law of silence. She couldn’t talk to my children, they didn’t know about Diana, they knew she had a sister, but no more, because how do you tell her, what do you tell her.

Ana María details that with the passing of time, and when democracy arrived, she began to have grandchildren and they began to ask her about her history. “Talking about Diana was helping me to elaborate the duel, but one always has sorrow”.

Finally, psychology emphasizes that she and those who suffered during the dictatorship must “be guardians of memory.” “There are many people who are traffickers of oblivion, who manage to put a tombstone of the things that happened. So, someone who experienced that has a duty to tell young people what happened.”

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