By Jorge Inzunza
When you come from Latin America, coups d´états are part of your world view. I was born three years after the Pinochet coup in Chile. Therefore, I did not know another form of government until I was 15 years old. I grew up in the midst of missing persons, lighting candles in blackouts, listening to military helicopters circling in the sky, and feeling the protests in the streets. I studied at a school in the center of Santiago and many times at the end of the school day, we had to rush to take the subway, with stinging throats and watery eyes. If the subway station was closed, we had to walk to a bus stop away from the protest in order to get home.
They call my generation that of “the children of the dictatorship.” We learned about the fear teachers felt at school and the silence when faced with uncomfortable questions. I started writing there. Science fiction called me naturally. I remember my first story was about a patrol traveling through a city in rubble looking for survivors. The soldiers on the patrol listened spellbound by the sound of a radio playing in one of the buildings and then the fatal sound of an alarm announcing the impeding bombing. There was no escape. At that dark time in Chilean history, I knew very little about what was happening during the dictatorship. However, my writing captured those fears, anxieties and terrors that inhabited my city.
The attempted coup in the United States a few days ago is acting as a centrifugal force that has monopolized my thoughts and emotions. I can’t type or just hit the keyboard with a couple of ideas. I can’t read or play with my children without having that feeling of oppression. It is as if a shell has activated over my heart and is trying to contain a sea of words that cannot be revealed.
Writing today becomes a war diary, emulating George Orwell. For those of us who lived through dictatorships, in my opinion, we have an obligation to position ourselves, speak out, and establish historical and vital bridges with these moments of today. It is not a time to seek neutrality, asepsis and alienation; these are impossible and petty options. We should write to connect with our young readers and their families, to discuss terror, death, and sadness, and to offer a path for becoming stronger.
The heart is here and it beats.