An interactive visualization for Chile’s Disappeared

On September 11, 1973, General Augusto Pinochet began a 17-year dictatorship in Chile that resulted in thousands of politically-related deaths and hundreds of individuals who mysteriously disappeared with no explanation given by the government. These people are known as Chile’s “disappeared.” An interactive map created by ArchivosChile (loosely translated as ArchivesChile) and developer Gabriel Mérida shows how many of these and other politically-motivated, government-sponsored murders occurred between September and December, 1973, the start of Pinochet’s regime.

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It is particularly poignant that this map, essentially a data visualization mash-up of GoogleMaps and data from Chile’s “Servicio Medico Legal” (Medical Legal Services office) has as one of its core navigation items a query box where one may search by a victim’s name. As in, people are still searching. One may also search by city.

It’s relatively intuitive (given it’s objective, it has to be). One of the most compelling features is the “play” option that allows you to simply sit back and watch the dramatic and unfortunate escalation of deaths within these four short months.

The interactive is surprisingly text-based, but does the job. The silhouette icons that point to each victim are a bit clunky and obscure the actual numbers when you arrive at the default zoom view–something that a smaller visual (an “x,” a dot, a square) could have avoided. But once you zoom in by city block, they become a powerful reminder of why you are, indeed, interacting with this map. Clicking on each victim displays a pop-up which helpfully displays the victim’s name, cause of death, source, medical examiner and other data.

Puzzlingly, the legend is displayed as a dropdown, which takes away from the intuitiveness of the map. But overall, it gets the grim job done.

ArchivosChile_screenshot

 

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