Heraldo Muñoz should probably be dead right now.
In the fall of 1973, Muñoz was an idealistic socialist in Chile, hiding out with his American wife as the military searched for dissidents to "disappear" as Augusto Pinochet tightened his grip on power.
About a month after Pinochet's U.S.-sponsored coup, Muñoz looked out the window of his mother's apartment where he was hiding and saw an army truck and a few of his comrades being rounded up. He put on his jacket, gave his wife a few instructions and waited for the inevitable. But the troops never stormed through the door to carry him away to torture at prison.
Eventually, Muñoz heard a soft knock on the door. "It was Dona Alicia, our next-door neighbor," Muñoz writes in his memoir, The Dictator's Shadow, released last year. "We'd known her for decades, she'd seen me and my brothers grow up. The soldiers had mistakenly gone to her house instead of ours, she said, and demanded that she give me up. When she explained that she only had two daughters and a young boy, they'd turned her house upside down. Even so, she had refused to betray me."
Many of Muñoz's compatriots weren't so lucky during the Pinochet regime. An estimated 80,000 political dissidents were jailed, 30,000 tortured and thousands killed during Pinochet's rule from 1973 until 1990.
Since democracy has returned to Chile, Muñoz has held several ambassador posts. He's currently the Chilean Ambassador to the United Nations. He's one of two ambassadors from South America who will be speaking at UW-Madison this month.
Muñoz has been getting a lot of attention lately for two memoirs released last year, both of which he will speak about at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 26, in the University Club, 803 State St. His other book, A Solitary War: A Diplomat's Chronicle of the Iraq War and Its Lessons, focuses on Munoz's time serving on the UN Security Council during the run up to the U.S. war in Iraq War.
Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Brazilian ambassador to the United States, will speak on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 4:00 p.m. in 2520 Grainger Hall, about U.S.-Brazil relations.
Masarah Van Eyck, UW Division of International Studies Director of Communications, the speeches are part of a series as "a way of getting faculty, alumni and institutions on both sides of the ocean together to work on initiatives."
There's a special focus with the Emerging Powers Initiative, trying to establish connections with the so-called BRIC countries -- Brazil, Russia, India and China -- all of which have rapidly growing economies and are predicted to be the world's emerging powers.