March 3rd, 2000
How the last 10 years have flown by! It seems just yesterday that there was celebrating in the streets, parties in all of the houses, and Pinochet had just officially given power over to Aylwin. Back then, I thought that Pinochet would never face punishment, would never be taken to trial, since he had protected himself with his “senator-for-life” nonsense. But it has been a long two years of hope and happiness in that respect, even if he is finally returning to Chile.
Back in 1990, when mother and I were interviewed by the truth commission, I thought that maybe we would find out who was responsible, who I could confront about my father’s death aside from Pinochet, who I’m sure I will never meet. I felt good about being interviewed, but after I heard how little they would be able to do, I became depressed and saddened. Most shrugged and went back to their daily lives, but as someone who has had more and more trouble sleeping at night, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Pinochet and his crimes. Yet no matter how much I thought about it, I never expected that he would really be charged and held in England for two years before coming back to Chile. Honestly, when I first heard that news, I thought it was some kind of sick joke, making those who had lost and suffered so much hope for just a second before taking that hope and breaking it against the hardness of reality. But it really did happen.
They claim that he is being returned for medical reasons, but when you think about all that he ordered during his rule, torturing pregnant women, killing sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, that his physical condition wouldn’t really matter. But apparently even England can be stopped in its tracks by an ailing body or mind. It’s so pitiful. If mother were alive today, she would yell and scream, cry and curse. Well, maybe not.
She died in 1996 of a heart attack, probably brought by her weakened state after a particularly bad fall down the stairs. Anita and I were there with her until the very end, and little Valeria came along and held her grandmother’s hand. At least she died happy, knowing that I had finally had a child and was starting a family. She was so pleased when I proposed to Anita in late 1990, and she cried at our wedding in 1991, and again when we told her about the pregnancy in 1993. When Valeria was born, she even started letting our neighbor Jorge lead her “sessions” so she could take care of her baby grandchild. When we announced to her that we had a second child coming, she was even more overjoyed. She died not two months later, which I think is ironic, because the miscarriage would most likely have given her a heart attack anyway.
Now at 45, with two children running around the house, I wonder what she would say. She’d probably tell us that we were showing them too much TV and not telling them enough stories. But it’s hard when I still work 8 or 10 hour days painting in the day, and have trouble sleeping at night. Anita’s been busy as well. Between taking care of the children, with Valeria almost six, and Andres about two and a half, and writing her little newspaper article each week, life has been hectic for her recently. Yet no matter what else is going on, we always sit down to watch the news at 10:30 each night, and eventually, I think our children will join us, when their bedtime isn’t as early.
Watching the news is both frustrating and liberating, since I know I can’t do much to change what is going on in the world, and yet I also know that I’m not expected to. I always vote, which is one way to make a change, and I still feel that I’m making a difference through my painting, but as I watch the TV I can see how much larger the world is than my neighborhood, than Santiago, than Chile. Which means that even though Pinochet is returning again to the country he destroyed so well, there is still so much of the world that he has not touched, that can fight back. Like England, or Spain. I now hope, more than I ever have before, to see him put in jail, to see justice taken for my father, and for my mother. May she rest in peace.