March 3rd, 1976
We are out in the courtyard in front of the church with candles lit. It is only just getting dark. We are at a prayer service for all our friends and union leaders and neighbors, who we haven’t seen in so long, and who we desperately want back. Someone is singing a song by Victor Jara, softly, under his breath. Old women are lined up counting rosary beads, but only a few. It is mostly young people. Felipe is giving a sermon. But its not a sermon really, its a war cry. He demands that God return to us our loved ones, but its not God he’s talking to. Its Pinochet and his generals. I find the comparison chilling. But its true that by now they have total control over our lives and deaths. Raul Iturriaga may not be God, but he certainly is playing him, and may he be punished for it.
Felipe reads off names of our friends from Rancangua. Cristian, the boy who used to take me for ice cream on Saturday nights, the one I thought I’d marry some day. Bélen was taken last week in the middle of the night. She and I were supposed to make Chapaleles the next day. She had sworn off political action of any kind after her daughter was born. You weren’t even allowed to utter certain names in her house. And for what? The rage swells in me and I feel increasingly certain that something needs to be said, and not in code.
Suddenly there’s a flash and someone is shot.
Sniped. From a roof top. But not by a gun. No it was a photographer. We see him briefly before he ducks down behind the decorative molding on the apartments above Doña Emilia’s Italian Restaurant. His camera didn’t adjust to the fading light. I look over at Tio Ramón and we realize that there is no way to know who was in that picture, how long he had been there or what the pictures meant. Sometimes I wonder if an actual bullet would be better.