In October of 1998, General Pinochet was arrested in London following a Spanish indictment.
When this happened, I did not know how to feel or think. It seemed unreal. It seemed impossible that justice could be on the way. Yet, Spain seemed intent on bringing him to trial for human rights abuses. Was justice just around the corner? Would we finally be validated?
But then, of course, nothing can ever be easy. The courts determined that even though any country has the right to try someone for human rights abuses, Pinochet was simply too ill to stand trial.
And so he has returned to Chile. It cannot be argued that he does not seem ill. On the contrary, each time a new picture of him surfaces in the media he appears weaker and older and sicker. I’m sure he still wants to appear strong, healthy, undefeatable….but his days are numbered.
What is more, his frailty makes me feel better. I am going to be sixty years old this year. Sixty! My health is deteriorating. The years of mining certainly haven’t helped.
Overall, in the years since the end of Pinochet’s reign, I would say that things have gotten better, but that there is still much to do. Our commissions for truth and reconciliation have not yet brought the latter, nor has it brought justice. And then, of course, just as it seems like now it might be possible to bring Pinochet to justice, we have yet another excuse. Perhaps some day I will manage to be less bitter. I need to focus on what I do have: my wife, my daughter…and not what I don’t have, what I cannot have: justice.