On a sunny afternoon last April I was leaning out a hotel window in Santiago, Chile, waiting for the Pope. A million other people were awaiting him too; in rows ten deep they lined the streets of a city that had been scrubbed and painted, and festooned with white-and-yellow papal banners. Armed guards patrolled the rooftops. A helicopter clattered noisily overhead.
When the Pope’s motorized glass bubble—papamobile, the Chileans called it—rounded the corner, the street seemed to erupt in a great cheer and a blizzard of confetti. But then, abruptly, almost in mid-breath, the thunderous cheers turned to boos and catcalls and whistles, for just behind the papamobile came a squat, ugly, armored car with a narrow slit window, and inside the armored car rode Gen. Augusto Pinochet, president of Chile.
I couldn’t help wondering what might be going through Pinochet’s mind: What’s the Pope’s secret? He just waves and the whole country goes into a swoon. The next night 80,000 Chilean teenagers filled a stadium to hear the Pope speak. A dark cloud of memory hung over the stadium, for in 1973 Pinochet had used it as a holding pen for dissidents. (Church-sponsored human rights groups estimate that 7,000 Chileans have been killed by government troops during Pinochet’s regime.) Sometimes, as a counterpoint to their adulation of the Pope, the teenagers broke out in spontaneous chants: “Go away, Pin-o-chet.”
“Love is stronger than hate,” the Pope kept saying. But hate has its champions in Chile as well. The night of the stadium rally I found myself in a student demonstration on Santiago’s main boulevard. It began as a simple holding-hands-we-shall-overcome-type of march. ...1
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