Chile 1988- The “No” has won!

I have barely anytime to write and not sure how to express how I feel at this very moment. I think the first word that comes to mind is shock. Today will be a day that Chile will remember for all its history to come: General Pinochet was voted down in the national plebiscite. According to the newspaper, he was voted out by 56%! The strange thing about this whole thing is that when I heard the news I was, as I had been in 1973, I was sitting at the kitchen table drinking tea as my mother cooked some dinner. Sadly in 1973, my grandmother had been standing there cooking. Her passing, now about a year ago, still is weight on my family. I wish she was here today to celebrate with us and open the bottle of special Argentine win that my father had hidden for the day we would be free of Pinochet. She would have laughed and danced, as much as her elderly legs could handle, and tell us how proud she was of us. For my youngest brother, Vincent it was the hardest. He was the one who had found her, in her bed one morning when she did not come down for breakfast. When my mother did hear anything either she went up and found him kneeing by her bed silently weeping. For both Vincent and I my grandmother had been a rock through the regime. Through her, warm embraces and whispered words she had pulled me through when I found out I could not have children. She was the reason that my brother stayed home after he came back from Santiago. And when she was gone he had no reason to stay- he left quiet soon after her funeral, which broke my mother heart. It seems that in this moment I have come to see how tumultuous these last two years of the dictatorship have been. It seems that in the last 2 years all of Chile felt this enormous pressure and will for it to be over- people wanted it to end and I felt it in my brother is impatient. Many like my mother were able to continue there lives and push out the terror from their lives so that they could keep going, yet, for my brother (and in ways myself as well) were unable to move past every single injustice and repression. The terror consumed him whole and when my grandmother, who had kept him sane, left as well, I think he could not take it. I think he may be in Santiago still or somewhere is the south, perhaps working on a farm or in a store. However, I stopped receiving letters or phone calls or any form of communication. I know he is alive though. I would feel it if he was gone too. Maybe now that it is all truly over, he will return. Both my parents hope so. I only dare to hope as well.

But now I must stop remembering how Pinochet’s rule has destroyed my family and enjoy this moment of jubilee! My husband will be home any moment, we will go to our friend’s house to celebrate – eat good food, and good wine and dance the night away. I hope I will see my other brother and his dear wife as well (she will not be drinking, since she is pregnant!!!). As I remember the past and feel the weight of these 17 years I see that life goes on, there are always thing to be thankful for and I know that my brother will be an amazing father to this child. I have promised myself that when this child is 18 I will also give them a book to record their thoughts and the movements of history.


Be well!

1 thought on “Chile 1988- The “No” has won!

  1. ssvolk says:

    Hi, Valentina. I still can’t believe it. It took so much work to get to the “No,” and I still don’t believe that Pinochet will actually turn over the presidential sash to someone else. But for the moment we celebrate and look ahead, not back.

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