PINOCHET IS NOT IN PRISON YET
by Tito Tricot It was raining heavily the night she dreamt about pale blue unicorns. They were happily grazing on a pink meadow, their black eyes shining brightly under the midday sun. All of a sudden thunder and lightning made the little unicorns come to a halt; frightened and bewildered they tried to run for cover, galloping wildly through the plains. But the storm was unleashed with such violence that the unicorns could do nothing but shiver. It rained day and night; there was water everywhere, in the purple hills surrounding the valley, on the top of the giant trees, in her eyes, her breasts, and her throat. She couldn't breath, she thought she was going to drown. The water was thick and filthy, the voices from afar were shouting at her: if you don't talk we'll kill you, they said. If you don't talk we'll bring in your little girl and rape her, they said. And more water and more blows and more electricity. That's what prison was like under the military dictatorship. General Pinochet is not in prison; he never has been. "It is horrible that the British are holding him in a tiny house with only a living room, a dining room and three bedrooms", they utter. This is not only a joke, but also an offence to millions of Chileans who live in poverty, to the homeless and deprived who will never have access to decent housing. Above all, it is an offence to the memory of those that died or survived in prison. I will tell what prison was like for over a hundred thousand Chileans, you cowardly and whining General. The concentration camps had no living rooms, but mined fields; they had no dining rooms, but barbed wire; they had no bedrooms, but watchtowers. Our parents were replaced by marines, our wives by soldiers, and our dreams by machine guns. Torture centres operated day and night burning flesh and bone: electricity in the genitals or tongue, cigarettes in the tender nipples, the sadistic laughter of the interrogator, the clenched teeth of the interrogated in the name of the fatherland. The stinking blindfold served as a useless barrier against the brutal reality of pain and death around us, in the name of the fatherland, of course. The young and brilliant philosophy professor couldn't stand it any longer so he plunged into emptiness hoping to find some peace amongst the stars that were gathering that night. This is what prison was like under your dictatorship, cowardly and whining General. The British decision to extradite or prosecute is only a small step in the right direction, but Pinochet is not in prison yet. He continues enjoying the privileges of a head of state, although no one ever elected him President and of a life Senator, though no one elected him to Congress. What privileges did political prisoners have under his regime? What privileges did the young girl have when they tore up her flesh and heart just to satisfy the sperm of a beast? She cried and fought and cried again, all to no avail. Then, months later, in a women's prison and hidden away in a dark corner of the common bathroom she tried to abort the little being inside her womb. Twenty-one she was when all her dreams were shattered by merciless mercenaries, brave officers of the Chilean army. This is what prison was like under your dictatorship, cowardly and whining General. General Ricardo Izurieta, commander in chief of the army, rushed to London to visit General Pinochet, although the dictator is only a civilian now. He spent several days there expressing his institution's solidarity with his behind the scenes superior. The two Generals probably sipped expensive tea and exchanged pleasantries before designing the strategy to be followed from now onwards. All with the approval of Chilean Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jose Miguel Insulza, who expressed — to everyone's dismay — that General Izurieta's trip to London was a private affair. Perhaps due to the fact that he did not wear his uniform in Europe. Anyone can visit Pinochet without the humiliation that our families went through whenever they wanted to visit someone in jail. Body searches, censoring of letters, abusive language and intimidation by prison wardens, all geared towards the breaking of our relatives' determination to fight for their rights. To fight for our rights, because we were locked up from five o'clock in the evening till eight o'clock the next day; because we had to endure violent searches, beatings and punishments. This is what prison was like under your dictatorship, you cowardly and whining General. Pinochet is not in prison yet, and his supporters and the Chilean Government are doing everything they can to ensure the General's release. In an election year, most political parties are talking about reconciliation and national harmony, forgetting the past and looking to the future. But until Pinochet and all those who committed horrendous crimes are brought to justice, our children and their children will not be able to dream with pale blue unicorns grazing peacefully on a pink meadow.
* * *April '99 Chile