May 21, 1988
I’m back. It feels so strange to be in this city that I have dreamed about visiting for so long, now as an outsider—a Peruvian journalist. I have access, some modicum of power to showcase what I want people to see and be part of the “No” campaign that I have been reading about from afar. For so long I have felt helpless to the power structures that corrupted so many and allowed atrocities to occur in the name of order and progress. Now I am returning to a changing Chile. Of course people are still scared and we have no idea if Pinochet will actually relinquish his throne even if the No vote wins in October, but you can feel something in the air that I have not associated with Chile in a long time…hope.
Getting the assignment to cover the “No” campaign was a surreal experience. I realize I haven’t written in you since I got the assignment last week, so here is what happened. It was a pretty typical Tuesday, and after sitting down in my new desk and again taking a moment to revel in my good fortune (I still can’t get over that I went from printing these newspapers to writing them) I was called into Señor Huamán’s office. He got straight down to business (he is never one for small talk), saying, “so I hear you are from Chile.” Before waiting for a response, he announced, “it is your lucky day, son. You just landed yourself an all-expenses paid trip home. I need someone that knows Santiago to go with the team I am sending to cover the upcoming “No” campaign. I know you are just a junior reporter, but I really like your stuff so far, and I’m confident you will do good work. You and Roberto will leave in four days.” I was sent out of his office before I had time to process, let alone, voice that I didn’t know Santiago so I would be absolutely no use there, had, in fact, not been in Chile for 13 years, and have a lot of emotional baggage associated with the country that might impede my journalistic abilities and substantially alter my mental state in general. However, the more I thought about the opportunity, the more excited I became. This could be a really important step for me.
Andrea is loving Chile. Somehow I managed to get the ok for her to come with me (I think Señor Huamán likes her a little too much). We visited Arica before coming down to Santiago, since she wanted to see where I grew up, and I wanted to see Javi. It was incredible to see him and catch up. He has a wife and three kids and works as a teacher in the high school. How things have changed. I can feel myself shedding layers of anxiety around this place. I am still tense, and work with the constant fear that I will see my father in the street somewhere, but I am glad I came.