The documentary Nae pasaran! (2018) by Pelipe Bustos follows the story of Scottish workers who defeat the aircrafts that bombed La Moneda in 1973. Upon their refusal to work in the maintenance of the machines, they make sure of never flying again, in solidarity with Chilean aviation workers that in Chile is little known about. The documentary ganador de un Bafta comes to rescue a gesture which impacted on lives and deaths, histories that thank to this research can be told and strengthen the reasons of the delivery of highest award to foreign citizens that the Government of Chile awarded to three workers that started the boycott.
It all started 40 years earlier, when in 1974 the 15607 engine, of the Hawker Hunter model airplane, entered the Rolls Royce plant in Scotland. Bob Fulton, a factory worker of the refined engines, notes that the origin of this mechanism is the Republic of Chile. Quickly think, the union of the company has a position of opposition to the government of the Chilean Military Junta. Then Fulton involves his teammates Robert Sommerville and John Keenan, together they raise their voices and soon all the workers of the factory agree with the “black” labels they put on the Chilean engines. That is to say, the engines were “seized” and nobody worked on them.
Of course, the matter escalated to the management and the civil authorities, and from this side of the continent a demand for breach of contract was attempted, to expedite the repair of the equipment that was property of the Chilean area force. The word of solidarity was spread, it was heard in Belgium at the meetings of exiles attended by the parents of the director of this documentary; it was also heard through a system of antennas hidden between the wires to hang clothes in the prison camp of Isla Dawson, where the survivors of the bombing of the government house were being held. Here there are moments of fine archive research conducted by Bustos, in which he rescues images from the press visit to Dawson Island and at the same time is one of the men that appears in those images that tells the anecdote of the antennas in the cables of the clothes in front of the Bustos camera.
“In order to fly again the Hawker Hunter the Chilean air force tried to repair the aircrafts by hand, with fatal consequences”
Fulton, Sommerville and Keenan tell the story of how they organized their boycott by drinking a beer, along with other factory workers. Some are almost 90 years old, and together they remember the 4 years that the Chilean engines were abandoned in the courtyard under the Scottish climate. That is the known history, but there are testimonies that evidence the historical secret that was wanted to extend on this topic, voices that speak of life and death issues.
A prisoner in exchange for each engine
“A prisoner in exchange for each engine” the phrase is a historical rumor, without documentary support. The Chilean area force can destroy its documents, and it did, the files from Scotland will be revealed in 2039. That is, there is no support for this statement issued by any Chilean body. But there is recorded evidence of an exile who says he owes his life to the boycott of the Scottish workers. This story has the well-known “butterfly effect”, which comes from the phrase “a butterfly flutters in Brazil and causes a tornado in Texas” representing the amplification of the impact of the small actions.
The Rolls Royce union decided its position on the situation in Chile because the Chilean area force took prisoner officers from their institution who declared themselves in contempt. That is the reason for the “embargo” they initiated. It is to one of these prisoners that upon arriving in his exile country he is told that he has been exchanged for one of the stalled engines at the Rolls Royce factory. What do Fulton and company say when they see the video of this story? You have to see Nae pasaran! to know the answer.
The workers knew the whereabouts of the engines until 1978, when they were stolen from the factory yard. It was a mystery to them what happened next. Bustos investigates. A retired general of the Fach has the answer for that and other questions. A man who does not regret his actions, even when recovering the planes the Fach had to acquire the spare parts from India and other countries just as distant. In order to fly again the Hawker Hunter the Chilean area force tried to repair the machines manually, with fatal consequences for at least one of the test pilots.
In 2014, on behalf of the government of Michelle Bachelet, Fulton, Sommerville and Keenan receive a very important award for the actions they did 40 years ago. In the words of Ambassador Rolando Drago, the Bernardo O’Higgins medal expresses “eternal gratitude” on behalf of the entire Chilean people.
Knowing this history of international solidarity will be possible from the premiere of No pasarán, scheduled for June 6 in Chilean theaters.