Chile marks the 40th anniversary of the military coup that ousted democratically-elected President Salvador Allende, replacing him with Augusto Pinochet, a dictator who would rule the country for the next 18 years.

The Listening Post speaks to Chilean actor Benjamin Vicuna, who presented the four-part documentary 'Los Imagenes Prohibidos' about why he took part, and the importance of retrieving forgotten images for Chile to finally come to terms with its past.

Listening Post: For the global viewer who knows less about Chilean history, what does this documentary say that has not been said before?

Benjamin Vicuna: More than saying new things, it shows them. It shows images that have never been seen before of events that marked us as a country and filled us with pain until today. Many of these events had been reported in the written press, but a record of the images of those 17 years were only broadcast by the foreign media.

Indeed, there are many images in the programme that were seen abroad first - but here, in Chile, we only saw what they wanted to show us. Now, we were able to see that part of our history.

What does the fact that these images were banned during your country's recent history mean? Why did this take so long? 

These images were censored for 17 years and unfortunately, they continued to be forgotten during the transition. To retrieve them involved an intensive investigation by the production team at Chilevision - both in Chile and abroad, work that took months of contacting people, paying for copyrights, improving the image quality, finding the protagonists and those who had filmed them. 

Could we see this programme and others that have flooded the screens as a kind of mea culpa for the role of the media during that time? 

The documentary I presented is not an attempt to judge, but to present the truth. I don't think its a question of trying to ask for absolutoin, but rather that today we are ready to show our memory and construct our future. They are images rescued for an era in which TV channels were censored, and now, they are being shown as part of our democracy. 

What has been the reaction to the documentary in Chile?

I think that most people have been grateful that this part of our history, of our memory has been recuperated. I have personally received numerous positive messages, both from those who lived during that period and those from the new generations.

We were surprised that there was so much interest and that so many people watched it. I think the programme has been a great contribution to Chilean TV; it opened the debate, it unblocked memory and history.

Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

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Source: Al Jazeera