To think, that it has been forty years since I started keeping this diary! My son Sergio has now reached the age that I was when I began writing. I must have him start journaling as well. Just the other day, I sat down and read through my old entries. It was amazing to see my life unfold in these pages. As I reflect on the past, I realize that by many standards, I was lucky during the time of the dictatorship. Neither I nor any of my family members were disappeared or killed by the Pinochet regime. Sofia was a terrible loss, and that pain is forever a part of my memory, but it is a wonder that she was the only one of my friends to be taken when so many of us participated in protests. I could have had a much worse fate. I could have been kidnapped, tortured, and killed as part of the regime’s sweeping repression. Luckily, this fate did not befall me, and I lived to see the end of the dictatorship and find happiness with a wife and kids. For so many of my fellow citizens, this was not the case. So many people were taken, with their families never to see them again. A culture of fear pervaded our society. That is why I got involved in the movement to end the dictatorship. I just wanted Chile to be normal again, free from this debilitating state of fear and uncertainty.
I think the feeling that most characterized my years under the dictatorship was a frustrated restlessness. I was 13 when Pinochet came into power and 29 when he left, so the years of his regime were my most energetic, adrenaline-filled years. I was constantly striving for something new and wanted to be a part of a grand revolutionary movement. The massive demonstrations in the 80’s were romantic for me, but this romanticism was crushed and replaced by a bitter pragmatism after the kidnapping of Sofia and the failed assassination attempt on Pinochet. I am frankly surprised that I was able to soldier on after these events. I could have easily given up and left the world of politics. I am lucky that I had a close group of friends who kept me engaged and active.
After Pinochet handed over power, my country was able to begin the slow and interminable march toward justice. With my decision to become a lawyer, justice became the preoccupation of my professional life as well. Inspired by Luisa’s dogged leadership, I devoted my career to pursuing the cases of kidnappings and murder perpetrated by the former regime. In the past few years, I have finally had the chance to serve as lead prosecutor for a few of these cases. I regard the conviction of one Captain Alonso Hernandez for the abduction and murder of three Chilean citizens as one of the proudest accomplishments of my career. The trials are an ongoing process, and I still firmly believe that bringing accountability to the perpetrators of these past crimes is the best way to ensure that they never happen again. Our country is not fully healed, but the willingness to pursue these cases, as well as the increasing visibility of museums and memorials that recognize the horrors of our dictatorial past, are important steps in the right direction. I am grateful to have found a meaningful calling and a loving family that give me purpose in this new Chile.
With my life on such a steady track, I feel that this diary has fulfilled its role. I would like to close this final entry with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., that great civil rights leader of the United States, that I think applies very well to my own country: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” How true that now seems to be for my beloved Chile.