A 42-year-old artwork dedicated to Chilean refugees who fled the Pinochet regime has been uncovered during the Union upgrade. As a result, members of the Chilean community in Leeds contacted the Union chief executive, Aidan Grills, in order to seek his assurances that the valuable mural will be preserved.
Gilberto Hernández of the Leeds Chilean Community and Pedro Fuentes of Chilean Community Association in South Yorkshire contacted Grills explaining the history behind the piece, saying it reflected “the history and lives of many Leeds residents who came to this city after a very horrific time in Chile”.
Refugees arrived in Leeds between 1974 and 1975 due to support from students and trades unions in the area.
In a letter to community leaders, Grills said: “I am happy to announce that I will be working closely with the University to ensure this mural is restored and displayed once again in our Union.”
Socialist president Salvador Allende was overthrown by General Augusto Pinochet in a brutal military coup backed by the United States. Communist activists were driven into exile and many Chileans were made refugees. As a result, a large number of the diaspora settled in Leeds.