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Public Art, Activism, and Historic Memory

September 22 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

On the 50th anniversary of the military coup in Chile, a panel discussion will examine the importance of culture as a tool for building solidarity and advancing justice.

This program is held in conjunction with the exhibition of Todas Las Manos, a five-part mural installation created by Francisco Letelier and artists from the Latin American Youth Center, on view in the Great Hall of the MLK Library.

This public art project celebrates the pursuit of human rights and global justice and commemorates the 1976 assassination in Washington of former Chilean Ambassador Orlando Letelier (the artist’s father) and Ronni Karpen Moffitt by agents of the Chilean dictatorship. Letelier and Moffitt were colleagues at the Institute for Policy Studies.

In the half century since the Chilean coup, Chilean exiles have created a new home in the United States. Through solidarity and cultural exchange, efforts in Chile have joined efforts to advance social justice and memory in the United States and around the world. Join us for poetry and discussion. PLEASE PRE-REGISTER

Speaker Biographies:

  • Francisco Letelier is a Chilean-American visual artist and writer and the creator of the mural installation Todas Las Manos. After the assassination of his father, Orlando Letelier, by agents of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1976, Francisco joined with other Chilean exiles to paint a mural in Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park to create a sense of unity and hope in the face of Pinochet’s reign of terror. The artists called themselves the Brigada Orlando Letelier. Eventually, they would paint Chilean solidarity murals in 11 cities involving thousands of participants and Francisco Letelier would devote his life to using art as a tool for narrowing political, economic, and cultural divides. One of his recent projects is a 105-foot mural at Los Angeles LAX airport, “Into the Blue,” created in collaboration with Marybeth Fama in 2022.
  • His Excellency Juan Gabriel Valdés is serving as Ambassador of Chile to the United States for the second time – first under President Michelle Bachelet and currently under President Gabriel Boric. In 1976, Valdés was working at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. when his colleagues Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt were assassinated by agents of the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Valdés has strived to keep alive the memory of his colleagues, including through the installation of a statue of Orlando Letelier in front of the Chilean ambassador’s residence on Massachusetts Avenue.
  • E. Ethelbert Miller is a literary activist and the author of two memoirs and numerous books of poetry, including Where are the Love Poems for Dictators? In 2023 he was nominated for a Grammy in the spoken word category for his Black Men Are Precious work. He is also the editor of Poet Lore magazine and host of the weekly WPFW morning radio show On the Margin.
  • Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project and co-edits at the Institute for Policy Studies. Over the past three decades, she has supported many efforts in the pursuit of justice for Letelier and Moffitt and other victims of the Chilean dictatorship.
  • Tope Folarin is the Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Studies. He’s a winner of the Whiting Award for his debut novel, A Particular Kind of Black Man, and the Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story Miracle.


More information about the Todas Las Manos exhibit.


September 22
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library
901 G Street NW, East Storefront A & B
Washington, DC 20001
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