Inner Latin America Oral History Project

Hear eight captivating stories about the peak of Latin American refugee and migrant flows, and of global solidarity activism at Sydney’s Inner West between the 1970s and 1990s.

Timed with the 50-year commemoration of the 1973 Chilean coup d’état, this new collection preserves the memories of Latin Americans and local activists that made Latin America enter the cultural and political history of Australia.

The Interviews

Justo Díaz

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Justo Díaz bio

Justo was born in 1951 in Argentina. In this oral history, Justo narrates his Latin American origins, how he became a young musician in the mid-70s, and the decision to leave his country under one of the most repressive military dictatorships in the history of Latin America. Justo tells how, after a stay in Europe, he relocated to Australia in 1979. Here, he co-founded Papalote, one of the first and most prominent Latin American music bands in Australia, and La Peña, arguably the first cultural centre in the nation. Justo narrates the history of the place as epicentre of the solidarity movement, campaigns and many cultural events dedicated to Latin America, located in Newtown, Sydney’s Inner West. Justo also talks about Latin American identity in Australia and the intersection of music, culture and politics.


Gustavo Martin-Montenegro

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Gustavo Martin-Montenegro bio

Gustavo was born in 1938 in the south of Chile. He played a key role in the crucial agrarian reform program and the restoration of indigenous Mapuche’s land rights as member of the socialist government of Salvador Allende, between 1970 and 1973. After the September 11th coup d’état, Gustavo was imprisoned and escaped the repression seeking asylum at the French embassy, coming as refugee to Australia in 1974. In this oral history, Gustavo narrates his journey, and how he directly witnessed and participated in the extensive solidarity campaigns and actions of resistance against the Chilean dictatorship, including his leading role in Casa Chile at Marrickville’s Addison Road Centre, and lobbying for the longest economic boycott in the history of the military regime. He also talks about his research on Chilean migration to Australia; the presence of Australian intelligence services in Chile to sabotage the Allende government; and his work with key figures of Labor governments to bring Chilean persecuted people as refugees.


Víctor Hugo Muñoz

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Víctor Hugo Muñoz bio

Víctor Hugo was born in 1943 in Guatemala. In this oral history, he talks about the modern history of Guatemala that he witnessed since he was a child, including the indigenous Maya’s plight and the US intervention in Central America. Víctor Hugo narrates how, as a young university student in journalism and law, he participated in numerous campaigns to help the indigenous and peasant populations in Guatemala. He also talks about the intensification of the repression against his social work, which forced him to escape Guatemala towards Mexico and come to Australia as refugee in 1984. Víctor Hugo also narrates the beginnings of his long and fruitful work in internationalism and solidarity with Latin America, such as his memories of La Peña and Casa Latina at Marrickville’s Addison Road Centre, and his co-founding of the Guatemalan Human Rights Committee.


Paula Sánchez

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Paula Sánchez bio

Paula was born in 1968 in La Serena, Chile. Paula narrates her childhood under the Allende government and the ensuing Pinochet’s dictatorship, together with her parents’ militancy and her own political path. In this oral history, Paula narrates her participation in the resistance in the north of Chile during the harshest period of political repression in the 1980s, as well as her musical affinities and personal story of struggle. Paula talks about her imprisonment in 1987 by the Chilean secret police and her moving to Australia as refugee in 1988, in one of the last waves of Latin American humanitarian migration to Australia. Finally, Paula remembers how she was welcomed here and her first connections with Latin American solidarity events at the Inner West, which led to a lengthy and prominent work in internationalist activism.


Brian Aarons


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Brian Aarons bio

Brian was born in 1945 in Sydney. In this oral history, Brian narrates his family’s history and connections to internationalism as leading members of the Communist Party of Australia. Besides his family and own connections with the Inner West, Brian explains how across generations his family instilled and practiced their concern for global issues, such as the Vietnamese struggle, East Timor, Latin America and indigenous rights in Australia. Brian talks about his uncle’s Eric’s trips and writings on Cuba and Chile, and Brian’s own studies on Latin America through Tribune and the Australian Left Review, CPA’s publications that played a leading role in informing Australians about the Latin American struggles and revolutions. Brian also remembers the many demonstrations, solidarity events and campaigns supporting Latin America by Australian communists and activists, in particular the boycotts against the Chilean dictatorship adopted by unionists.


Bruno Di Biase

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Bruno Di Biase bio

Bruno was born in Italy in 1946. In this interview, Bruno narrates his upbringing, and later spending his entire adolescence in Venezuela, where his political awareness was formed. Bruno remembers his migration to Australia and becoming involved as key organiser in FILEF, the Italian Federation of Migrant Workers and their Familes, which prominently supported the Latin American causes of refugees, migrants and politics since the 1970s. Bruno remembers how FILEF, an Inner West, Leichhardt-based organisation, with other national offices, promoted Latin American struggles in the covers of Nuovo Paese, their regular publication, together with their participation in countless demonstrations against the Latin American dictatorships of the 1970s and 80s. Bruno also talks about his leading role in forming, recording and performing in Bella Ciao, a band of traditional Italian folk music, which participated in many Latin American festivals and solidarity events, including La Peña and other locations at the Inner West.


Jean Lewis

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Jean Lewis bio

Jeannie was born in 1950 in Sydney. In this interview, Jeannie talks about her early age connection with Latin America through his parents and music. Jeannie remembers her 1967 trip to Cuba as Australia’s representative to the First International Protest Song, which gathered the most reputed folk singers and performers from Latin America and all continents. Jeannie also narrates the recordings of her many albums dedicated or connected to Latin America, and her countless presentations at shows and solidarity events at La Peña and other Inner West locations, where she was a key supporter and act. Jeannie also talks about her strong connections with Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico through trips, friendships, recordings and documentaries.


Tim Anderson

Link to the full interview

Tim Anderson bio

Tim was born in 1953 in Melbourne. In this oral history, Tim talks about his connections with the Inner West and places such as Newtown, and his first awareness of Latin American struggles. As one of the first political prisoners in Australia, Tim remembers how his own plight received the solidarity from many Latin American migrants, refugees and organisations through events at the Inner West. He also remembers how he became an active supporter of Latin American struggles, such as the Nicaraguan and Cuban revolutions in the 1980s and 1990s through numerous trips and campaigns. Tim also talks about Latin America as a central concern and continuing internationalist subject through his research and academic work dedicated to Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and other countries, where he has travelled to and written extensively about.


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Page last updated: 18 Aug 2023