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OPEN LETTER TO PINOCHET

Dear General Pinochet,

It is with grief that we learned, a few days ago, of the death of Sola Sierra, a woman who symbolises Chile and those memories that you wanted to crush and bury forever. You are also dying, General! Despite all the modern medical technology and special treatment that you have access to, your moment will also come. Even though you were able to have absolute control over the death of others, you have no control whatsoever over yours.

General, cast off those messianic and self-redeeming thoughts (which nobody believes in anyway!) and make an act of contrition! Take a careful look at your country and take stock. As a result of the disastrous inheritance that you bequeathed us, Chile is still your prisoner and Chileans are still your hostages. That legacy remains, weighing us down and causing us deep pain. And it is dividing us General, because you left us terrible memories. It is time to recognise that your brutality and that of your henchmen traumatised generations of Chileans and that your period is a horror story within our country's history.

General, if you really care about national sovereignty and motherland, as you and your followers say you do, you should acknowledge your crimes, renounce the privileges of your office, submit yourself to the judicial process and then return to die in your own country. The alternative, of course, is to continue fighting for impunity and against extradition, a prolonged process that will force you to die abroad, like so many of those you sent into exile. General, to restore the honour of Chile you should avoid letting civilised countries like Spain and England judge you as a criminal, making your country the laughing stock of the international community.

I have no doubt that, cunning as you are, you must be laughing at the Chilean politicians who are making fools of themselves defending you. You always despised them, and you may have good reason to do so. Those who want to bring you back are, on the one hand, a so-called Christian government that chooses to ignore international rulings on crimes against humanity, attempting to side-step them at all costs; and on the other hand, ministers who used to be political exiles and now suffer from amnesia. How disgraceful, General!

This is your sad legacy, still alive and kicking; the sheer terror of the military, a fear that clouds the minds of our leaders and causes them to act irrationally. General, if you are as brave as you say you are, you should face your responsibility like a man. Stop battling to evade the law, submit yourself to human courts and avoid facing the judgement of a heavenly court. We human beings still can offer you something that you never had for others: the compassion that can influence the final verdict. In contrast, celestial courts will be implacable. Set your soul free from guilt, and go to the other world clean and pure, and with the added satisfaction of having helped bring about national reconciliation. Set your captive motherland free, General! And in that way, you, the admirable Sola Sierra, and those who still cannot be found will be finally able to rest in peace.

Carmen J. Galarce
July 99


Carmen J. Galarce is Full Professor at Otterbein College (Ohio), USA. A graduate in Education at the University of Chile, Valparaiso, she pursued postgraduate studies in Literature and Linguistics, eventually becoming a PhD at Ohio State University. In 1993 Dr Galarce published her book La Novela Chilena del Exilio.

 

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