Finally, I have gotten to the point, where I can do something with my avatar which I was forbidden to do through the entirety of this project: I am so sad to announce that Raúl Rojas Moreno died past week of a heart attack and is now buried at the Cementerio Central de Vallenar, the central cemetery of Vallenar, next to his parents. With the age of 75 years he has finally found rest and peace.
Designing Raúl and have him live through 20 years of violent but at the same time crucial part of Chilean history, was a very important but also hard part to do. The first problem I had to face was Raúl’s social position. Being a man from the petite bourgeousie and having a relatively secure job in the copper industry, it cost me a great deal to determine where he should stand politically. Either could he have been a faithful defender of the old Christian Democratic Order or he could have had no political commitment whatsoever, being more concerned with getting a stable salary every month. I decided for the latter option and as initially explained, his life was revolving around his business and his work. But in times of political changes and social upheavals which began to reverbarate throughout the country from the 1970s on, an unpolitical accountant in a copper mine could not be indifferent to what was happening around him (even though he lived somewhat excluded from the events of the capital). The second challenge was that I didn’t know how to frame his emotional reactions to Allende, coming from a conservative Catholic household of the petite bourgeoisie. So I concentrated his resentments about Allende into his mother and only had him observe what was going on around him. Still, he must certainly have been in fear of losing his position. However, I still wanted him to understand that the crimes committed during Pinochet were a huge injustice and criminal atrocities. So throughout his life I had him ask more and more questions so that he reflects more thoroughly about his surroundings.
Just like me, Raúl started out a little ignorant to the political events that happened around him, but the entries really helped him to get emotionally more involved into the events around him. Shortly before his death he even visited a widow of a disappeared union worker of San José. Just like my grandmother, his father is a stubborn but energetic person who wants to explore things although his age forbids it. The tragic loss of his wife is the downside to it. And every time I came across a well renowned aspect of Chilean history during Pinochet which happened near Copiapó, like the Caravan of Death, I was excited to know what Raúl might think about it.
Despite all those challenges and occasional lacks of inspirations I had when creating this character, I ended up being immeasurably thankful to Raúl for this journey we went through together. By having him live through Pinochet I certainly learned a great deal about how military dictatorships affect people. Throughout these 13 years Raúl grew more and more compassionate towards the labor’s destiny and their struggle. I learnt about the horrors people must have lived through and the confusion this has created among the population (I recall Raúl’s confusion as to what the explosion was when 16 prisoners were shot in Copiapó by the Caravan of Death in 1973).
Raúl has taught me a lot about history: His destiny made me reflect about historical facts in their ramifications and not just as being “one damn thing after another” as Arnold J. Toynbee would say.
In that sense,
Thank you Raúl (R.I.P.)