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Capitol Latino

Politics, Culture, Reporters, Thieves

Santiago in the early 1970s was an ambitious socioeconomic project half-built on popular Hope, demanding popular Change. It failed on 11 September 1973 when constitutionally elected Chilean President Salvador Allende was assassinated and replaced by internal thugs sponsored by thugs abroad. Pablo Torres was a professor’s son. Professor Torres was de Allende’s izquierda, and so he was purged soon after the coup, taken to Chile’s national futbol stadium, and tortured. Pablo went into hiding.

“He’d stay some nights at our house,” recalls my father, “but to be in hiding bajo la dictadura was to keep moving. The idea was to avoid jeopardizing your friends for more than one night.”

Eventually, Professor Torres was released and la familia Torres reunited at the French Embassy in Santiago to await refuge abroad. The night before los Torres flight, Pablo snuck out of the compound to reunite with some of his most-cherished Chilenos. He had no address to leave behind, and even if he did, any correspondence was sure to be censored. It was an eternal farewell. Someone brought a guitar.

“Pablo era muy buena gente and a fine guitar player,” says my father, “but it was after curfew so we couldn’t play the more-excitable anthems del canto popular that Pablo had taught me on guitar. So instead he played other songs, some of which I’d never before heard. One of those songs was ‘Todo Cambia’. I asked him who sings it. Pablo said it was una argentina que se llama Mercedes Sosa.”

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