In the last months we have seen everything: a pandemic, a civil rights revolution, wildfires eating the American continent, the planets aligning against us… And now the invasion of the Capitol by some picturesque characters dressed in Where the Wild Things Are costumes. It was the Netflix version of the Storming of the Bastille in France in 1789, only with weaker or no sociopolitical motivation whatsoever.
The Trump-loving mob’s only interest was to overtake democracy in order to impose their will on a majority of Americans who had voted Democrat. This is a very old strategy and it is called coup d’état. We had one in Spain in 1981, where a discontent sector of the military took over the parliament with weapons and held MPs hostage for a couple of days, being subsequently dissolved and incarcerated.
I was a child back then, but still, I remember feeling the fear of losing democracy and freedom by the hand of a few. I think on that fateful 23rd February 1981, we all learned how frail democracy can be. We learned to cherish the Constitution, our Bill of Rights and Freedoms, and we learned never to take it for granted.
After that, everyone joked about the coup. Us Spaniards make jokes about everything, sacred and profane. But underneath, when I remember that day, there is a memory of the dark creature that came out to the light on that day from the deep murky waters of intolerant men: totalitarianism.
Solange Sanhueza, our illustrator, is from Chile. Her family still remembers the horror of dictator Pinochet.
Can you tell us how you feel about these events of the last week?
Solange: "After incredulity, I got really scared, thinking of a scenario like the one we lived in Chile 47 years ago when one morning on 11th September 1973, the Presidential Palace was taken by the military. General Augusto Pinochet self-proclaimed President. That day started one of the darkest episodes of Chilean History. The dictatorship lasted 17 long years, during which human rights were systematically violated; torture, rape, murder, people arrested and disappeared, political exiles.
"It is difficult to forget what happened, because it has been a giant effort to rebuild our democracy, our society and most of all, our right to think differently and live in peace in spite of our differences.
"Dictatorship is still a painful living memory for many, especially those who lost their relatives. It is horrifying to think that history may repeat, no matter in what country. Violence can’t be the solution. Let’s learn from our past and live in peace."
Horrifying indeed. Let’s hope it’s just an isolated incident and people understand the importance of democracy and peace.
Anyhoo. I believe next week it’s the turn of alien invasion. Be vigilant of the skies above you.
Charo Lloret is from Spain. She writes about global issues and her experiences immigrating to Canada and living in Fort St. John.