During Augusto Pinochet's 18-year rule, thousands of Chileans were murdered or went 'missing'. But due to tight censorship, it was a story the country's media failed to expose.

Chile returned to democracy in 1990, but the media have been reluctant to touch on the thorny issues of the country's past, until recently. Over the past few months, Chileans have been tuning into a TV drama dealing with the military dictatorship.

Los Archivos de Cardinal - The Cardinal's Archives tells the story of a team of lawyers working with the Catholic church to expose the torture and killings carried out by Pinochet's regime - and it has provoked a fierce debate about the role of public broadcasting, in what remains a deeply polarised society.

The series has brought back memories of a collective trauma, revived old political rivalries - and it has also provoked some of the country's most prominent journalists to carry out their own investigation - using the cardinal's original archives to look into the real facts behind the cases dramatised on screen.

The Listening Post's Marcela Pizarro takes a look at the slick TV thriller that tells the story the Chilean media has tended to avoid.

"It hurts to see it. It's terrible what we lived through. We went through it with people on the run. We had to smuggle a lot of people out because they were in so much danger."

Vitalia Araya

Editor's note: This episode of Listening Post aired in November 2011.

Source: Al Jazeera