Clandestine in ChileThe Adventures of Miguel Littín
by Gabriel García Márquez, preface by Francisco Goldman, translated from the Spanish by Asa Zatz
In 1973, the film director Miguel Littín fled Chile after a U.S.-supported military coup toppled the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende. The new dictator, General Augusto Pinochet, instituted a reign of terror and turned Chile into a laboratory to test the poisonous prescriptions of the American economist Milton Friedman. In 1985, Littín returned to Chile disguised as a Uruguayan businessman. He was desperate to see the homeland he'd been exiled from for so many years; he also meant to pull off a very tricky stunt: with the help of three film crews from three different countries, each supposedly busy making a movie to promote tourism, he would secretly put together a film that would tell the truth about Pinochet's benighted Chile—a film that would capture the world's attention while landing the general and his secret police with a very visible black eye.
Afterwards, the great novelist Gabriel García Márquez sat down with Littín to hear the story of his escapade, with all its scary, comic, and not-a-little surreal ups and downs. Then, applying the same unequaled gifts that had already gained him a Nobel Prize, García Márquez wrote it down. Clandestine in Chile is a true-life adventure story and a classic of modern reportage.
Reissued nearly 25 years after its initial appearance, the book recounts a middle-aged caper, vainglorious yet genuinely gripping. Time has drained the adventure of its urgency, and our geographical and cultural distance blunts its force. Still, this remains a significant document. An invaluable preface by Francisco Goldman explains why.
—The Boston Globe
The journalism which began Marquez's Nobel Prize-winning career is employed here not only to tell Littin's remarkable story, but offer a tragic summary of Chilean politics.
—The Independent (London)
The story and perhaps the words are another’s but the élan is all Gabriel García Márquez’s.—John Updike, The New Yorker
An extraordinary adventure which would make good comedy if it did not take place against the background of one of the most repressive regimes in modern times.
Two foremost artists of Latin America meet in this breathtaking story.... The narrative progresses in a sober, almost matter-of-fact tone, allowing the reader to go along, to imagine, to breathe the atmosphere charged with impending dangers and to experience, as near as reading permits, the ugly dictatorship of General Pinochet, entrenched in Chile since 1973.... Clandestine is a fascinating literary journey.... the book alone is celebration enough of human ingenuity and determination. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
—Marjorie Agosín, The Christian Science Monitor