As a young girl, I looked up to my family and my country. I prided myself on some sense of civic commitment to my nationality. I believed in some sense of universal values that all Chileans would be connected to. Coming up on the 40th anniversary of Allende’s death, it seems difficult, albeit oddly comforting, to think back on a time of such brazen naivete.
I reflect back, though, on the burdens imposed in drastically different ways on both my husband’s family and mine. My father’s complacency nearly brought him to his deathbed, and yet some people still laud Pinochet. One thing I can say with certainty: If a Marxist dictatorship had emerged, the changes and horrors experienced would not have been as swept under the rug. Because Pinochet’s terror wasn’t a social transformation, I could remain blissfully unaware of the extent to which he scarred our nation.
While people no longer speak of elements “alien” to Chilean society that must be rooted out, to me, Chile feels more fractured than ever. But Tomás and I act as if the world is finally at our fingers. And it’s a lovely feeling. We have moved to a small villa in Las Condes, and part of me thinks that our new neighborhood is half the reason for this newfound mellowness. Tomás has been so successful as a surgeon, and tied with some inheritance, suddenly our neighbors are some of the political elite who sang the virtues of Pinochet. The bland, the boring, the cowardly.
Sometimes, the little things still set off Tomás and Maya. The scars can still trigger immense vulnerability and can still tear hearts wide open. The people who say that he saved from death, those ones really kill me. But even then, we can try to channel that energy into a simple reminder: Never again. Hopefully, a day will come when everyone will accept that Pinochet’s glorification benefits no one. It’s a tough balancing act, though, because while I don’t want people to forget his marks and stains, I want Chile to embark on a new path freed from his constraints and impositions.