Trip Start Aug 11, 2005
150Trip End May 22, 2006
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Today will be spent looking for our last bits of Chilean souvenirs and wine. Tomorrow, we will board a bus for Mendoza, Argentina. If the weather is good, we should get a great view of the Andes as we cross over into Argentina.
We uploaded the above text early this morning, thinking that our day would be pretty straightforward with not much to tell. Well, at supper in the restaurant of our guesthouse, we noticed people hanging large banners on the building across the street and between trees. Some candles were lit, people were spray-painting slogans on the walls, and posters looking like mug-shots were pasted to the walls. Hmm? What is this about?
With our limited Spanish skills, we could tell that it was something about bringing the truth and justice regarding Pinochet, the former dictator of Chile. The friendly desk clerk filled me in. The following paraphrases what she told me.
When the military took over Chile during the years of Pinochet, the building across the street was where 119 people were murdered. Every single Thursday, the same group of protesters hold a demonstration. They are the friends and family of Pinochet's victims.
I expressed how it was sad that they spray-painted on the walls. She agreed a bit, but said that tomorrow morning a man would be painting over the writing. Imagine, every single week.
In 1998, Pinochet was arrested in Spain and was returned to Chile in 2000. Documents surfaced about his role in the 'caravan of death' and he was put under house arrest. In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled him unfit to stand trial, thereby ending any judicial effort to hold him accountable.
As I wrote this, people have chanted, sung, clapped to the beat of someone's rap poetry, and listened to people make speeches. It is really a tribute to those who lost their lives. Gerald and I must say that we are both a little nervous and hope that it doesn't become violent.