11 March 1981

Dear Papa,

I realized I have not written to you in quite some time now. I don’t know if you remember the year I was born, but I have lived through three decades, now having reached the ripe old age of 31. Older, but unsure of how much wiser that has made me. I woke up today with thoughts of you, which to be honest Papa, has not happened in the past eight years. After Simon disappeared, my spirit was subsumed in fear for the safety of Mother, myself, and those we love; anger and hatred toward the animals that have brutally, poorly, and selfishly led this country into depression; and, mostly, sadness for those who have lost their lives at the hands of our Chilean brothers. Brothers who I know deep down are no different from you or me, though who are alien in this moment. I feel as if I can no longer call this place my home, for the Chile I know does not disappear and mercilessly torture for eight years those caring individuals who create the thread work of this tarnished, beautiful nation.

I still have no idea where you are, Papa, but these infrequent letters have allowed me to come to terms with a lot of the darkness that pervades my mind on a daily basis. Today, unfortunately, marks yet another one of those days— General Pinochet, under the new constitution, has declared himself President of the Republic and the military regime for the next eight years. It’s as if he believes he is our God, our holy savior. With disciples like Contreras, all he seems to have created is a living hell. What God forces you to fear your neighbors, your friends, or even your own family? It’s disgustingly twisted. Seven years ago Pinochet declared Chile an island of tranquility in world of violence. Tranquility is the ability to walk down any street without the constant fear of disappearance. Tranquility is the ability to peacefully fight for what you believe is right. Tranquility is the comforting knowledge that you will be able to feed your family every night. Tranquility is being able to look into the eyes of your people and feel their trust. You, Pinochet, have no concept of the word tranquility. I have lost most faith in the God I used to believe in, but never will I submit my being to revel in your presence. Chile’s spirit will not be lost in the chaos of unemployment, washed up bodies, and deteriorated lifestyles of those who were not fortunate enough to be born into wealth. I am convinced that we, as the historically free-spirited Chilean people, will find life once again— slowly and painfully, but adamantly reestablishing our faith in the vibrant, courageous inhabitants of Chile as the nation that I originally knew it to be.

Your son,

Joaquin Oliveras Vidal


1 thought on “11 March 1981

  1. ssvolk says:

    Hola, Joqauín. It’s so good to hear from you again after all these years. Every once in a while I wonder how you are and what became of Simón. I take it that you have not heard from him again. Qué verguenza, no? To have to live in such a country? But what are you doing. I know that you were studying history, but what did you do after the uni? All of us seem to be struggling these days, but at least I’m making it by. And you? Where do you live? What are you up to?

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