It looks like Pinochet will outlive my mother. It saddens her most of all. “I wanted to see that bastard lowered into the ground.” She tells me, as I sit at her bedside. “I don’t care if he’s hanged or given a full military procession, a twenty-one gun salute…” she drifts off. I keep a careful record of everything she says, fearing that her next words may be her last.
The Brits decided that Pinochet was ‘unfit’ for extradition to Spain, to stand trial. Instead he has returned here. Since the news broke, and increasingly after his arrival, the world has been abuzz with the words: ‘alleged crimes.’ It sickens me. This diminishes the loss that we have felt, and the deep wounds that many of us must cope with. The crimes are very real—viscerally so. The allegations are that Pinochet holds responsibility for them. But it is unclear if he will ever be called into court, due to his pending immunity, his declining health, and his close connections to the judges; many of whom he appointed.
The Rettig Report, which was released almost a decade ago, typifies the sort of gesturing which the Aylwin and (younger) Frei governments have been doing for years. They are beholden to the former regime members, the upper crust of Chile, and the armed forces. And so they tread lightly. It was clear, as soon as the commission released their findings, that despite the thousands killed and the tens of thousands tortured, neither rest nor restitution would come for my family, my friends’ families, or anyone who suffered at the hands of the regime.
Mama says she cannot wait for justice, but that she hopes I will see it in my lifetime.
I do as well.