The Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) co-hosted Todas Las Manos, an afternoon of poetry, music, and inspired conversation in memory of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt, with American University Museum at the Katzen Center, Institute of Policy Studies, and Aviva Kempner, Sunday, September 11, 2 p.m., at the Kay Spiritual Life Center at American University. A reception and artist tour of the mural installation Todas las Manos followed at the American University Museum Sculpture Garden at the Katzen Arts Center.

Todas las Manos lead artist Francisco Letelier, son of Orlando Letelier, hosted the cultural event, which featured prominent figures in Chilean and international arts and politics including:

  • Joe Eldridge, Human rights activist and co-founder of the Washington Office on Latin America
  • Patricio Zamorano, Chilean singer-songwriter
  • Peter Kornbluh, Author of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability and Director of the Chile documentation project at the National Security Archive
  • Aviva Kempner, Award-winning filmmaker and Director of the Ciesla Foundation
  • Quique Aviles, Salvadoran poet and performer
  • John Cavanagh, Director of the Institute for Policy Studies
  • Lori Kaplan, President & CEO of the Latin American Youth Center.

Todas Las Manos commemorates the 40th anniversary of the assassinations of Francisco’s father, former Chilean Ambassador Orlando Letelier, and co-worker Ronni Karpen Moffitt. The large-scale installation depicts Orlando Letelier, Ronni Karpen Moffitt, Rodrigo Rojas, and other victims of Pinochet’s dictatorship. Rodrigo Rojas was a young photographer who was burned alive when he returned to Chile during a street demonstration against the dictatorship. Rodrigo was 18 at the time of his death. He was a student at Wilson High School in northwest Washington and an art and media program participant at the Latin American Youth Center, as are the young people working with Francisco Letelier on the mural. Letelier, an internationally-known muralist based in Venice, California, and LAYC young artists began working on the installation in early August, which will be on exhibit through October 23, 2016.

LAYC is proud that young artists from its art and media program worked with Francisco Letelier on the Todas Las Manos mural. One of these was Chidubem who read a poem of her own inspiration at the event, shared below with permission from the author.

Splash of Color

by Chidubem Ekwem


White was the color, the only one we know

White is for the disappeared hidden in snow


Red was one color, used to bring out passion

Also blood is red, then spilled in a timely fashion


Blue is used to make a song and made to chill

It sings a lullaby that is meant to heal


Orange is used to climb a ladder, time is ever slow

However time will go on and change has to flow


Yellow could help shine light on the snow

Will we ever find it, would we ever know?


Green is always humming and continues to grow

It wraps up the bodies and ties them with a bow


Truly, how beautiful is a dying pink and red rose?

Death kills, at this point I guess everything goes


Purple wants to fight but calm it down to the ground

Time is a bomb, please don’t make a sound


Brown is for the secrets buried in the cold dirt, a book

Document, secrets, are deeper; take a closer look


Black is the end, but it’s also the beginning

Life is full of loss so when are you winning?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *