Page A 14 - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 5, 1985
R.C. prof describes her passion for Chile
By KATIE WILCOX'
,:liana Moya-Raggio is a woman of
passionate beliefs - about her
homeiand of Chile under a dictator-
sIgp, about her role as a teacher, and
about her language and cultural
heritage. And the feelings she inspires
iii her students are equally strong.
"She is passionate about every
deision she is confronted with, from
political views to day-to-day
decisions," said Tamara Williams, a
teaching assistant under Moya-
"SHE IS ALMOST beyond words for
me," said Jenny Wieloch, one of her
students in the R.C. program.
But Moya-Raggio is devoted to
more than just her classes. "I think I
do so much more than teach Spanish,
sdftetimes that gets lost in the enor-
mous amount of things that go on in a
place like this," she said.
Moya-Raggio, who has been head of
the R.C. Spanish program for 13
years, came to the United States from
Santiago, Chile in 1964 when her
husoand became a visiting professor
at Ohio State University. She had
planned to stay only a few years but
her husband decided to stay for good.
"It was not a choice I made, but a
choice made for me," Moya-Raggio
IN 1973 she wanted to return to live
in Chile, where she is still. a citizen.
The country was under Marxist
President Salvadore Allende, who
was working on a socialist plan to
nationalize the industries and
redistribute the wealth of the lands to
But in September of that year,
before she returned, Allende and the
Unidad Popular party were thrown
out of power ina blotdy military
coup. Since that time, General
Augustus Pinochet has ruled the
Republic of Chile.
Many people, including Moya-
Raggio, believe the United States was
responsible for destabilizing the
Allende government. Moya-Raggio
leans forward to stress the point, as
she often does when she feels strongly
"FOR ONE of the countries with the
largest, most established democratic
tradition in Latin America, Chile,
having elected a socialist (Allende),
was considered by the U.S. as a sort of
shameful thing, They wanted to prove
that it doesn't work or wouldn't
work," Moya-Raggio said.
It worried the United States to see a
leader in Latin America succeeding
with a socialist government, accor-
ding to Moya-Raggio. In addition, the
lucrative profits of large
multinational corpcrations were
threatened by nationalizing in-
"Deep down I believe the reasons
(for CIA covert involvement) were
really and truly economical, to
protect the multinational
businesses," she said.
"IN THE CASE of Chile, I think the
difficult thing for me is to realize the
United States' big role in
destabilizing...a government that
really doesn't present a threat,"
One -thing that is very hard for
Moya-Raggio and many others to ac-
cept is the United States' current
friendly ties with Pinochet.
Pincci.et said in an interview with
the C.ican newspper he runs that
relations with the U.S. have never
been tetter than ,vith the Reagan
"AT LEAS'T in the Carter Ad-
ministra'ion there was an attempt to
be concerned about human rights,"
C' nditi'3n under Pinochet are
terrible. There is no right to free
assemly; no right to notify family of
an arrest, no protection from
prolonged imprisonment, and very
limited rights for workers. Inflation
has been in the 30-40 percent range
since 1975, and unemployment has
been around 30 percent. Food crops
were changed to export crops, and
government spending on social
programs such as health care and
education were cut from $454 million
to $190 million.
The situation leads to ambivalent
feelings for Moya-Raggio. She speaks
of her admiration and love of the
United States, but is concerned over
its Latin American foreign policy. "It
is something I feel is so very wrong,"
WHEN SHARING her political
beliefs it is difficult to avoid ap-
pearing anti-American, she said.
"That is the danger, but that is not the
"Many times I refrain from saying
what I want to say,"ushe added,
choosing her words carefully.
According to the professor, students
who have never been exposed to
realities of foreign policy and
problems in other countries find her
stance towards U.S. policy in Chile
"IT IS IMPORTANT to know the
realities. I have a great trust in young
people to make changes," she said.
Her first return to Chile was not un-
til six years after the coup. Now she
goes back about every other year to
visit family and friends.
She waited so long to return because
of the hostile situation. "It was im-
possible then even to submit my kids
to the possibilities there," she said,
When Pinochet took over, the recently
divorced and working mother with
four children felt going back was not
feasible. In addition, her concern for
her troubled country could have led to
'I have a tremendous,
profound, deep love
or my language.' .
director of the Residen-
tial College Spanish
"ALSO I WAS very, very involved
in what you would call the Solidarity
of Chile. My name had appeared in
various places and I was afraid to
Now she sees her decision to remain
in the United States as the right one.
"I'm very glad I didn't go back. It was
a good decision to stay," she said..
"For me, Chile and everything in
regards to Chile was divided into
before and after (the military coup)."
Others see her as dedicated to her
country. "Once when she was
speaking of Chile you could see the
longing in her eyes for it," said Sean
Oslin, one of her students in the
~4E ~ AELRoL
WHEN ASKED if she misses Chile,
she laughed softly. "I miss the ocean
above all," she said.
On one of her trips back to Chile, she
discovered a group of women who
embroidered a type of patchwork
quilts, vividly colored, that depicted
scenes of social and political turmoil.
"They are recording the daily
history of their country, what no jour-
nal, no newspaper can do," she said. A
"They have embroidered their lives."
THE WORKS are called "Ar-
pilleras" and Moya-Raggo 'has
devoted time to their study and
showing them here. She couldn't bring Z
them out of the country because it
would be dangerous, but she had some
of the quilts sent and set up an
exhibition at the Power Center. She
also published a study in the Feminist
The women who made the quilts are
poor and uneducated. "They came;
together by the need to feed their kids
in soup kitchens and they started to do
something meaningful," Moya-
The tapestries show amazing
political and social awareness in the
pictures of torture, poverty, hunger, .
mysterious disappearances of loved
ones, and other issues that are
dangerous to speak of in Chile.
BECAUSE LANGUAGE reveals so
much, Moya-Raggio feels strongly
about the importance of her native;~
tongue, and that students should learn
it well in a country where only one out
of 10 people can speak or read a
"I have a tremendous, profound,
deep love for my language and I like
for my students to speak it well," she
said, using the frequent superlatives
that are characteristic of her speech.
Almost all of Moya-Raggio's
students react similarly to her intense
style of teaching. "She is very, very
strict - almost merciless,"' Oslin
said. At the same time, he described
her as caring and accessible.
"SHE'S ONE OF the toughest but+
most respected teachers I've everO
had," Wieloch said.
Moya-Raggio does not see herself as
tough, but she believes that just at-
tending classes, just sitting there is""'
not enough. Students must also be ac-
tive in learning.
"Teaching is. a two-way pcs,"1
she said. "You need to take respon-4
sibility for your classes."
MOYA-RAGGIO has taught some
unique courses at the P.C., such as a
course on Latin American women's
literature, a course called "Cultural
Confrontations" aoout third-world
cultures and conflicts of artistic"
creations, and a :ourse on the Latin
American New Song Movement. The
New Song Movement combines folk
music with music of social and
political confrontation. It is especially
interesting, Moya-Raggio said,
because so much of what is heard and,
seen in Latin America comes from the
"It thesNew Song Movement) star-
ted as a search for identity, authen-~',
tiziL.y, for a real Latin American
music of their own," she said
Her vitality and diversity also come
through in how she runs the R.C.
Spanish program. "I try to keep the
program changing, alive. We're
always innovating, revitalizing," she
"She has raised the level of the R.C.
program to one of the best in the coun-
try," Oslin said.
Williams describes Moya-Raggio as
passionate yet objective about
everything she does. Her students
describe' her as a demanding but
caring teacher. She is proud of in-
troducing her students to unique
pieces of culture of Latin America
But all agree that this intense
woman's personality snows in
everything she does.h
"A lot of what I care for. what I am
all about comes forth in the courses I
teach. I never tehch ten2t i don't care +,
about," she said.
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