The Guardian August 18, 1999


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

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