19 September 1973

Dear Papa,

Simon is gone. Vanished. And I have no idea where he is. He just completed his studies at the Universidad this past spring, but was sticking around this fall to help out of his profesor teacher’s assistant. I’ve heard hushed talk that the junta has been trying to quell the pockets of resistance that have been popping up at factories around where I live and they’ve also been after students who seem to pose any sort of threat to them. My guess is they’re too unpredictable for Pinochet and the rest of’em to feel safe. So even though I don’t know where Simon is for sure, my guess is that they’ve taken him to a holding place or something. I pray every minute for his safety. He’s always been outspoken and it sure seemed to get him far in school over the past few years, but with this sudden crack down on Santiago, I’m scared for him.

I still don’t know where you are, Papa, but I bet you’ve seen the news and know Allende is dead. The Palacio de La Moneda is in ruin. It was only a week ago, but it feels much longer. I didn’t think so much could change in the span of seven days— but it has and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to stop anytime soon.  Immediately upon hearing of the bombing my stomach flipped over itself like five times. Something pivotal changed in that moment. What kind of people are now leading our country that would bomb such an emblematic structure of Chile? I don’t trust any of them— not Leigh, not Pinochet, not Merino, not Mendoza. And they obviously don’t trust us, seeing that Simon is gone. I really am worried sick over him, Papa. I woke up on September 11 as I would have any other day and went to bed with the worst feeling of unease I’ve ever experienced. It has continued to cement itself over the past week. First, when they issued a statement saying we had to stay inside. Then, two days later when military men stormed our house and inspected every single nook and cranny of our apartment. They took all of the books Simon had given to me over the past five years. I watched from the window as the men burned them in the street. Not even men, Papa, the looked younger than me. Small wisps of paper carried themselves away in a gust of wind, maybe in an attempt to salvage those few printed words that remained and bring them somewhere to someone who may be in need of a few inklings of inspiration. The ash pile that remained near the gutter was the only reminder that those books existed. Mama took it as a bad omen, those books being burned. She tells me to tread carefully, until we can find out what’s really going on.

With all of this controlled chaos that’s happened over the past week, I don’t know how much of a possibility that is going to be though. I sure can’t place an ounce of trust the junta. They’ve shrouded everything in secrecy. Things are amiss and they’re acting like everything they’re doing is for a better Chile. For a more organized and prosperous society. I think it’s bullshit. Simon would not be missing if we were on the road to becoming a “better nation.”

A grip is being tightened on Chile, Papa, I can feel it. A strong one.

Please pray for Simon’s safe return home.

Much love,


1 thought on “19 September 1973

  1. ssvolk says:

    Hola, Joaquín – that’s such awful news about Simón. Have you heard anything else? They tell me that a lot of people are being held at the Estadio Nacional – and when I pass it on the bus on my way home to Ñuñoa I always see a lot of people out front, just milling about. Maybe they are also waiting for information. With luck, Simón will turn us and we’ll all get past this quickly, like a bad dream that we wake up from and wonder how we could have been so troubled. Be well.

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