Ah, how stable and domestic my life has become! Make no mistake, I am quite happy about it and would not want it any other way. Luisa continues to advance in her career. She has heard several important cases as a judge, including two that sent former military officers involved in kidnappings and torture to jail. Those two cases weighed on her. She would stay late into the night at the courthouse, going over the evidence again and again. Although no friend of the military, she wanted to make sure that these men still had a fair trial and weren’t put in jail rashly. This is just another reason why I love her so much. Luisa never lets her emotions or impulses get in the way when she is making important decisions. This trait carries over from her job into all aspects of her life. She brings a measured approach to everything; it provides a balance to me, who is often the more temperamental one in our relationship. Anyway, these cases have raised her profile and landed her in several newspaper stories. I sense that a promotion to a higher appointment is in the cards for her. As usual, she refuses to get her hopes up and insists on focusing on her current work, but I think she is expectant as well. Her success puts me to shame. I have worked on a few human rights cases with my law firm but have not served as the lead prosecutor for any. Luisa tells me that my chance will arrive as long as I remain patient and continue to show drive and enthusiasm at work, although it can be frustrating when I keep getting passed over in favor of our more established and well-known lawyers.
One person whose case neither I nor Luisa will ever have the chance of taking up again is Pinochet. He died today after suffering a heart attack a week ago. His death was all over the news, with celebrations breaking out here in Santiago as well as other parts of the country. A small group of his die-hard supporters mourned outside the Military Hospital where he died, but I can definitively say that the dominant mood in the country is one of jubilation. His contingent of loyal supporters had grown thinner in the last couple years with the discovery of his and his family’s massive tax fraud. I find it regrettably ironic that revelations of tax fraud were required for certain Chileans to become disillusioned with him. It’s a pity that a full trial could never be carried out against him. The past few years reached satirical levels, with the decrepit, old man continuously being prepared to stand trial and then being declared medically unfit again and again. I wish that I could have seen him in jail, instead of just house arrest, but there is a little solace to be had in the fact that he could not have enjoyed being in a state of topsy-turvy legal limbo in his final years.
Pinochet is gone, but the work remains. There are still so many cases of kidnapping, torture and murder to pursue. Ensuring that the right people face justice is an essential part of moving our country forward. We may be out from under the shadow of Pinochet, but his presence will linger on until we bring accountability to all of the lead players in his former regime. It is heartening to know that I have a life partner who will continue to take on this challenge with me.
Something else that Luisa and I must deal with is how to explain Pinochet and his era to our children. Sergio, named after his deceased tio, is six now, and little Anna is almost five. Pretty soon, they will be hearing things about Pinochet and the dictatorship from various places. We want to have that conversation with them before they start bringing strange stories that they heard to us. Luisa wants them to know the truth about how horrible and fearful it was under Pinochet’s rule. I am of the same mind but wish to explain it in a way that does not disturb them and ruin their sense of wonderment at the world. Because it is truly amazing how cheerful and full of life Sergio and Anna are. I am convinced that they get it from their mother. They are constantly smiling and laughing and creating magical worlds in our backyard with each other. When I get home from work, they will run up to greet me, yelling, “Papa, papa, come look at this castle we made in the back.” Before I can even take off my jacket, I will find myself in the backyard, learning about eight different kingdoms that each have their own hierarchy of mythical creatures. I would hate to endanger this beautiful innocence with accounts of Pinochet’s brutal regime. However, knowing my children, they may just incorporate Pinochet as a villainous character terrorizing one of their magical worlds. Although exhausting at times, it is a joy to have children and witness their unbridled creativity and brightness. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.