6 October 1988

Dear Papa,

Oh, fifty-five has never had such a jubilant ring to it! Fifty-five percent of the vote, fifty-five percent of Chileans, fifty-five percent of us, fifty-five percent united in the want for change, fifty-five percent with belief in democracy, fifty-five percent for freedom from minds gripped by fear and sorrow, fifty-five percent for the regaining of lives. Pinochet’s belief in the people proved to smite him in the end— what a fool, though, Papa, for believing in our vote for yes. No, Pinochet, my vote is a no. No to eight more years of watching pain well up in eyes, no to repression of color in life, no to falsities, no to keeping tragedies buried in lies. I try so hard to understand how an individual can convince themselves of committing such horrible crimes for the good of the people. It’s hard to reconcile with this fact, though it’s the only way I can come to terms with everything that has happened since the coup. I cannot believe in the pure evil these men appear to have possessed, I just can’t. They were, are, and will be good men somewhere in the brightness of the stars, the humble blankets of the night, the unceasing rotation of public bus wheels, the rough cement sidewalk crack filling with small, self sustaining sprouts, the crevasses in worn hands. Belief in change is more powerful than hate, I have come to realize. Hate is fruitless and fuels power. We have become agents of change by opening our hearts, Papa. I still cannot believe the tender minds of children were able to finally and fully convince me of this. Now, it is time to harness this momentum, this compassion, these deeply kind and caring thoughts, and fuel it into a one hundred percent no. A united desire for change and a nourishment of rich helpings of love. It may be a lot to ask and it will, of course, take time, but I firmly believe it can and will happen. The warmth of the oven as I sit and write this letter in the kitchen tells me so.

With love,

Joaquin Oliveras Vidal


1 thought on “6 October 1988

  1. ssvolk says:

    Hi, Joaquín. Thanks for sharing your letter to your papá. My family and I sat around the radio all night, waiting for the results of the vote to be announced. And such joy when they came back on the air to say that the “No” had won the day. But you’re right about the future – we had to say “no” before we could say “yes,” but from now on out, it will be only “yes.”

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