Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pinochet's funeral at escuela militar

When I was walking back to the hogar after the celebrations in Plaza Italia the other day, I happened to run into a couple of my girls returning after some time with their madrinas/padrinos. They saw me with my Chilean flag (which I could finally buy for my room) and, in shock, asked me if I had been at the plaza. They proceeded to pester me as to why I had been there, and if I truly felt happy that General Pinochet had died. Because I see the problems that arise even just when we like different futbol teams, and because I've seen how I falter when trying to speak spanish in important situations, I decided to try and avoid the surely proceeding political debate with these 12-year-olds for the time being. I did ask them why they liked Pinochet, but as this apparently implied that I did not, they stormed off dramatically without answering. I plan on picking this conversation back up with them soon-- when not in front of their patrons.

I didn't know where Escuela Militar itself is located, but once I exited the metro stop it was not hard to follow the Pinochet flags, buttons, and oversized g.i.joe dolls lining the path. I wonder where all of the paraphernalia came from so quickly. Who printed the "Gracias General" flags? Where is the speedy pro-Pinochet button maker? Did they make them years ago in anticipation for this day or is there an overnight system for producing mass amounts of sentimental trinkets? Once I made my way to the Escuela Militar, I wandered around the fence, the crowd slowly filing towards the gate. As soon as I made it inside however, a guard saw my camera and quickly took my elbow, steering me back outside. I had to be back at the hogar soon anyways, but I'm glad I could compare the two different sides of the situation. Chile is clearly incredibly divided, and as my friend told me (one of my students to whom I teach English) the one thing that saddens him the most is that he feels there will never be any resolution, that both sides will never be reconciled.

View more Pinochet funeral photos here.

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