"Not a leaf moves in this country if I'm not moving it": The Death of Pinochet, and a Fictional Call for Justice

AP- SANTIAGO, Chile -By EDUARDO GALLARDO, Associated Press Writer- "Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who terrorized his opponents for 17 years after taking power in a bloody coup, died Sunday, putting an end to a decade of intensifying efforts to bring him to trial for human rights abuses blamed on his regime. He was 91... Supporters saw Pinochet as a Cold War hero for overthrowing democratically elected President Salvador Allende at a time when the U.S. was working to destabilize his Marxist government and keep Chile from exporting communism in Latin America... But the world soon reacted in horror as Santiago's main soccer stadium filled with political prisoners to be tortured, shot, disappeared or forced into exile...Pinochet's dictatorship laid the groundwork for South America's most stable economy, but his crackdown on dissent left a lasting legacy: His name has become a byword for the state terror, in many cases secretly supported by the United States, that retarded democratic change across the hemisphere. ..."

From PANDORA'S BASEMENT, one of my unpublished novels:

"The ferryman has parked his barges under the bridge by the Durant Hotel, and the dead are coming up from the river. The Flint River is lined with concrete, but the papyrus boats found their way from the Styx to the Flint just the same.
The dead crowd along both sides of the road like Baptists at a church picnic. Hundreds more are coming out of the empty Durant Hotel, the eyes of its abandoned windows black and broken. A few are still dressing, looking down at us through broken glass.
The dead start climbing into cars and trucks. I slow down and thread my way through. I try to use peripheral vision and not stare too closely at the things they carry, their instruments of martyrdom. A Chilean with his hands broken embraces a guitar and climbs into the car ahead of me. A pretty little nun coughs and spits out a glob stained with dirt, throws a shovel in the back of my pickup and hops into the truck bed with a grateful nod toward my rearview mirror.
When we drive past Jack’s house, all the papers he had hidden there blow out the windows in a kind of funnel cloud, and flow after us like a dragon made of government memos and manila folders. Jack’s paper trail is trailing us. ...

"Jack went down to clean things up again after the politicians made their mess, to make sure that nothing would come back on Kennicot Copper or Pepsi or AT&T. First there were the killings in 76, and then the disappearances, killing everyone that might have anything to do with an event, a common mistake, really, fairly common among murderers. There are always people who try to erase an event by killing everyone connected with it.
Amanda’s birth parents Jack found their apartment in Santiago, saw the family photos of a bearded young man and a pretty dark haired girl . Perversely he took their photos and put them in one of his boxes, as if they were better than him and he wanted to eat their souls.
She’d be older than me. She'd be my age.
She would be, wouldn’t she? If theyd let her live out her life.
Amanda was one of those children who'd been stolen from their mothers during the Chilean coup. Leftist young men were killed; their young wives, if they were pregnant, were kept alive until they delivered and then tortured to death. The babies were farmed out to childless fascist couples, who raised the children without ever telling them who they were.
Hundreds of Chileans now in their thirties had been stolen by pious goblins, and the monsters that they called "madre" and "padre" had murdered the people who'd loved them first. holding hands and making promises while they still dreamed in their mother's womb. The true mother and father had been thrown out of helicopters flown out over the ocean, or died screaming and gasping and choking on blood and wondering about a god that didn’t answer, because the god that uncle Jack has made will stop at nothing to make the world love him....

The dead all had scraps of paper in their hands— a news article, a press release, a photo, some piece of ephemera from Jack’s collection. Each of them held a folder with the name of their murderer printed carefully in Jack’s grease pencil. The ghosts started moving in among the living.
A good looking man— almost dark and handsome enough for me to resent him— was holding transcripts of Henry Kissinger talking to Kennicott executives about the necessity for realpolitik in the era of the Soviet menace. Another scrap described copper industry profits sweeping up after a coup in Chile and Argentina. He held his scraps of paper in both hands and scanned the faces of the crowd, trying to find a match.
I recognized the clippings in his hand. They were part of Uncle Jack’s collection: Jack’s underlines drawn in sanguine pencil, my yellow highlighters and circles drawn with a pale blue highlighter out of Justine’s purse.
The handsome man finally saw someone he recognized. The ghastly silence continued to surround us but we could hear him speak without sound.
—Where is my child? Donde esta mi hija?
— I don’t understand, the Pepsi executive said with a pale face.
—In the stadium. I was herded with the others into the stadium. My wife was pregnant so they took her away in the black vans. They broke my hands.
— Who took you away? What? I don’t understand what you are talking about.
— When Allende won the election. He was threatening to nationalize the copper mines— Kennicott and Anaconda—and A T and T and Pepsi. You complained to the American embassy and Nixon and Kissinger told the CIA to have Allende thrown out a window. Where is my child?
—I don’t—I promise you, this has nothing to do with me
— We were college students. She was pregnant. The black van took her to a place with a picture of Hitler on the wall and after the child was born, they tortured my wife until she died because she was a leftist college student. Donde esta mi hija?
He never shouted at the sweaty man in the expensive suit, just kept repeating his question and saying these awful things.
— We were college students. They took me to the stadium and they broke my hands and they laughed because I was crying. They shot me when they were bored.
He reached out and gently pressed his ruined fingers into the rich man’s hand. The young student held both the suited man’s hands around his own ruined ones, like a Sunday go to meeting embrace. He made the rich man feel the way the bones gritted together and bent unnaturally. He was explaining to the man as you would to a confused child who’d accidently hurt a brother or a sister.
— Mi novia was pregnant. They took her away in the van. They kept her alive until she had the baby. There was a framed picture of Adolf Hitler on the wall while they tortured her. They put things in her because they thought she probably voted for Allende. Donde esta mi hija?
— I don’t know where the baby is. I don’t know what baby.
— They took the baby. They gave the baby to a fascist family to raise as their own. Where is the baby?
The handsome man kept asking the same question, but softly, very softly. The pale man in the good suit kept trying to evade the ghost’s direct gaze and the dead you man kept wanting to know, Where is the baby?
— That was a long time ago. Before my time.
— My mother still has our picture pinned to her dress. The picture was taken at a party. Our eyes are red from the flash. I have my arm around my girl and both of us are smiling. It was a good night, you can tell from that picture. We don’t know that we’re dead yet.
Maybe the dead were finally rise up and strangle the well dressed men and women in the pit. Maybe some eldritch horror beyond description would open up and swallow them all. Maybe all they wanted to do was ask some simple question over and over again...."

The military coup, the murder of the Chilean Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the murder of the elected president, and the torture and murder of thousands of dissidents and the kidnapping and indoctrination of their children, all this began on September 11th. A lawsuit filed that day against Henry Kissinger on that day in 2001-- for his complcity in those murders-- was knocked off the front page by the sound of the Twin Towers and the wall of the Pentagon falling. The Erineyes, the Kindly Ones, the Furies had come at us sideways.

No comments: