6 October 1988

The day has finally come. After over 16 years of waiting, the opposition can finally feel accomplished in that one day soon, we will be free from the overbearing shadow of Pinochet. In yesterday’s plebiscite, the NO campaign won out and 56% of CHile decided that Pinochet has held his terrorizing position of power for far too long. I feel as if I’m lying as I write this. It has been too long under an oppressive regime to feel like one day I can once again feel safe.

Safety is a privilege I haven’t had since I was 12 years old, carefree and whole on the southern most tip of my country. I’m sure my father is feeling this 100 times more, not able to feel safe even in his own body. My mother tells me of the waves of emotion he experiences day-to-day. Some days he will be his old self, rapidly reading and debating with old friends. But other days, he is empty, a fraction of a person who can’t sleep through a night without waking up dripping with sweat, screaming. I know my mother wishes she could keep these things from me but she needs an outlet, and Fernando has always been closed to discussions of feeling. I pity Fernando for not having enough memories of our father smiling, happy just to be alive with his family. When I do speak with Fernando, he begs for me to allow him to live with me. He can’t escape the coldness of living in a house with a person who isn’t always a person. But I know my mother needs someone there so I refuse every time.

Pablo and I had broken up a year and a half ago, the stress of our work for the opposition had taken its toll on our relationship. But after the results came in of the plebiscite last night, we celebrated with friends and it may look promising for us. I am finding myself wanting to raise a family now that I am able to do so without living in constant fear of losing someone. My struggle for work has started to subside. I was working as a substitute teacher in a high school and may have the opportunity to be a full-time history teacher. I want the truths of the past 16 years to be communicated to the new generations. Chile can’t forget what we have gone through and what that means for our nation going forward. While I can’t be more happier about NO’s win, I can’t help but wonder what the legacy of Pinochet will be…

1 thought on “6 October 1988

  1. ssvolk says:

    Yes, Alita – the day has finally come (or, I — ever suspicious, ever doubtful — hope it has!). It’s good to hear that you’re thinking of becoming a full-time teacher. Once we return to democracy (hope, hope), we will need good people like you to teach our children, to help heal this country. And you should give Pablo another look. Time for new beginnings!

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