Today as I walking with my friend Gloria, we past a group of people mourning the death of Pinochet. I tried to avoid eye contact, and completely ignore them. I was scared to see my mother in that crowd, as I know she is probably crying somewhere, complaining about how lost the country is without Pinchet as our leader. The sight of so many mourners sickens me, it is symbolic of all of awful things that Pinochet represented, and the degree to which he misguided our country. I was waiting to hear my mother call out to me, “Mi hija, ven aqui!”, but thankfully that public shaming never came. I let out a sigh of relief as we skirted past the crowd successfully avoiding the disgrace.
As we continued walking we talked about all the ways that Pinochet’s legacy still lives on. Gloria and I are both elementary school teachers, and even though it is much better to teach now, than it was 10 years ago, we still have to be extremely careful about what we say or assign in class. I teach 6th graders, which in my opinion is when children should start learning about history of Chile. I know that by this point they have all probably seen the gruesome images in the news, of a newly found recovered bodies, or some other remnant of Chile’s past that resurfaces. Gloria and I believe that these children need to be give some context for the things that they see and hear. Yet even when I tried to teach a unit about Allende, focusing on what he attempted to do and failure of his presidency, I had complaints from parents that I was teaching their children to be socialists. We always complain the Pinochet supportive parents are continually trying to silence the past for other students who deserve to learn what happened. Still times are changing, and Gloria and I must continue to push little by little, and find small ways to inform our students implicitly of what has happened in our country.
As our discussion turns to how and if we are going to try and teach our students about what the death of Pinochet means, we are both struggling to figure out weather to be happy or sad about the issue. It is incredible that Pinochet has finally been taken away from this earth, but how can natural death be more efficient than our legal system? Sickness was able to reach Pinochet before the weak hand of the judicial system. His death leaves so many attempts at justice incomplete.
We continued walking while grappling with these ideas, and as we turned a corner we entered into a large square. There was a live band playing covers of pop songs, and lots of people dancing and singing together. We realized right at once that this was not a moment to be sad for the failures of our government, but a moment for us to celebrate our further transition into a freer country. I was hesitant to join the group of rowdy 20 some year olds, but Gloria, a younger and more rambunctious women grabbed my hand and pulled me into the throng. Someone had brought some champagne and confetti and before I knew it we had danced and sang until our voices started to grow horse. I was reminded of the more rebellious days of my youth and I knew that this was the proper way to celebrate the death of a dictator.