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Minister Alberto van Klaveren receives donation of commemorative painting of Swedish ambassador who helped hundreds of Chileans persecuted during the dictatorship

Wednesday, May 3rd 2023

In a ceremony headed by Foreign Minister Alberto van Klaveren, the Swedish Embassy in Chile donated a portrait painting of the Swedish diplomat, Harald Edelstam, who protected and gave asylum to more than 500 people persecuted by the dictatorship after the military coup.

The event was also attended by the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, Gloria de la Fuente; the Swedish Ambassador to Chile, Tomás Wiklund; the executive director of the Fundación Imagen de Chile, Rossana Dresdner, among other authorities.

The painting is the work of the artist Fabian Edelstam, grandson of the Swedish ambassador, who travelled especially to present the portrait. The Chancellor thanked him for his contribution to the memory of both countries and stressed that "we remember Harald Edelstam for his courage and the strength with which he held his democratic and humanitarian convictions".

"I simply cannot tolerate injustice', Edelstam once said, and on that clearly expressed statement he saved many, many lives in Norway, in other countries and in Chile, after the coup d'état that occurred fifty years ago," he added.

For his part, Ambassador Tomás Wiklund emphasised that "Ambassador Edelstam's life and actions are a great example to all of us of the importance of civil courage and humanitarian values", adding that "he initiated a stream of refugees that lasted until 1989. In total, Sweden has taken in more than 29,000 Chileans. Today there are around 60,000 Chileans or people of Chilean origin in Sweden".
International solidarity

The Minister underlined the contribution of the European country not only in the role it played in the asylum of Chileans in its diplomatic headquarters in Santiago, but also in the reception of thousands of compatriots who had to go into exile.

Under the management of the former Swedish ambassador, asylum was granted and refugees were helped to leave the country, thus becoming a defender of human rights and urging the international community to take action against what was happening in Chile.

The diplomat was expelled by the military authorities of the time, but continued to work for human rights as a consultant on international affairs, a career that led him to receive numerous awards for his work.

It is worth noting that Sweden was one of the countries that received the largest number of exiles and is currently one of the largest communities of Chileans abroad.