The Palace of La Moneda: From the trauma of the Hawker Hunters to the therapy of the signs

Pedro Santander 1 , 1  and Enrique Aimone 2 , 2
  • 1 School of Journalism at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (Chile).
  • 2 School of Journalism at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso.


The objective of this article is to analyze and interpret a series of semiotic-discursive interventions that have occurred in the seat of the Chilean government, the Palace of La Moneda. Underlying these observations is the conviction that the Palace of La Moneda is not only an architectural construction but also a material object that must be read as a sign; that is, a representation of aliquid pro aliquod.

This analytic observation will be centred on the years of President Ricardo Lagos' government (2000–2005), because it is the period in which a series of semiotic actions can clearly be identified; these actions have impacted La Moneda and, underlying this impact, a strategy of sense production can be found. These actions are considered legible, the bulk of which makes up a syntax that results in a global sense or semiosis, whose objective is to change what the representation of this Palace means to Chile from the 1973 coup d'état on. According to the above, there are semio-discursive operations of sense investiture (Verón 1984) that the above mentioned government carries out in its political practice and that are in direct relation to the tragic history of September 11, 1973.

The theoretical body of psychoanalysis has been used to hold that after the coup d'etat the governmental palace represents a trauma understood as a wound in the memory. Changing the value of that sign by means of semiotic operations accounts for both the importance of semiosis in the political practice and the motivated character of the signs.

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The official journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, founded in 1969 as one of the first scholarly journals in the field, Semiotica features articles reporting results of research in all branches of semiotic studies, in-depth reviews of selected current literature in the field, and occasional guest editorials and reports. The journal also publishes occasional Special Issues devoted to topics of particular interest.