March 3, 2000

March 3, 2000

Today was a turbulent day. I confronted him for the first time about the past. Father started contacting me eight years ago. Once my name gained recognition in la Nación headlines, I guess he made the connection that it was me and took a couple of years to gain the courage to reach out. It took me a lot longer to respond, but now that he is facing charges of torture and murder I decided it was time to talk. I finally met him in person this afternoon.

As the good journalist I am, I wrote out all my questions beforehand, rehearsing them with Andrea as Vicente watched The Lion King in the living room next to us. Hearing my sharp, accusatory questions mix with the bantering of Timon and Pumbaa would have been comical if I wasn’t so tense.

I asked him to meet me in the Parque Metropolitano at the Botanical Garden. I thought it would be a good setting to air my grievances, and start fresh. I wanted to move forward and forgive him. Years of personal therapy and witnessing countless victims’ accounts of torture and murder allowed me to arrive at a place where I understand the value of remembering and speaking out about the atrocities of the past in order to move forward.

The first thing I thought when I saw him was how old he looked. It was difficult to reconcile this shell of a man with the powerful presence that had haunted me all these years. He hugged me like my grandpa used to, hunched over and weak—weak, a word I would never use to describe that man. However, as soon as he opened his mouth that feebleness dissipated. The first words out of his mouth were “I know what you are going to say, and I don’t want to hear it. I’m not here to make amends or be forgiven for there is nothing to forgive. I am here so that I can have a relationship with my daughter-in-law and grandson. I want my family back, Pato.” I couldn’t respond. I was speechless with rage. How dare he make demands. Nothing to forgive?!

“What about Antonio,” I spat. “You murdered your son.”

“Antonio was a traitor to his country and a subversive to his core. There was nothing I could do to help him. He was already dead to me.”

I couldn’t listen to his bullshit so I walked away. I was shaking the whole way home. Poor Andrea didn’t know what to do when I slammed the front door. I thought talking to him would be cathartic. I thought if I could look him in the eye as he apologized for his sins I could move forward. But I can’t forgive a coward and a liar.

Oh, also Pinochet is back in Chile after his arrest. I can hardly celebrate that though. I feel like I’m back to square one.

I’m not looking forward to falling asleep. I don’t know what kind of memories are lurking in my subconscious.

Signing off,

Pato

2 thoughts on “March 3, 2000

  1. ssvolk says:

    Hi, Pato. Your story is what so worries me about Chile and its future. There are so many people like your father – people who either can’t face the past or are comfortable with the choices they made. I don’t know how we get past that. The generation will die, it’s true. But will we and our children and our children’s children carry this into the future? How do we deal with the past?

    1. patricio says:

      That, my friend, is what has been haunting me as well. There are just no easy answers.

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