I'm having a bad day. Yesterday was why. It was the 47th anniversary of the military coup that overthrew democracy in Uruguay when I was a 15 year old missionary kid growing up there. Yesterday it bothered me so much that I didn't even mention it here on DS PTSD; I called up a friend from church instead to talk on the phone.
Reason? It wasn't just political for me, it was personal. 6 months later, in December, a military patrol arrested me for no reason while walking on my own street in the suburbs at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon, and that's when I was tortured, the reason I ended up here at DS PTSD.
I wrote my book Utopia Undone to try to understand the fall of democracy in Uruguay. Here's the Goodreads review of it online.:
"Utopia Undone: The Fall of Uruguay in the Novels of Carlos Martinez Moreno
by Kenton V. Stone
This study shows that Martinez Moreno is a writer of the "Boom" in the Latin novels of the 1960s who deserves a revival in critical attention, and proposes a new reading of his work that extends beyond political protest to a study of Dantean moral analysis -- especially evident in El color que el infierno me escondiera."
Like I said, what happened wasn't political for me, it was personal. The title of that last book mentioned abo e that offers a moral analysis using Dante's Inferno translates from "El color que el infierno me escondiera" to English as "The Color That Hell Would Hide." I still don't know what "color" that might be, but I was there, and I can attest to the fact that it was hell.
As I've written here on DS PTSD before, when that military patrol was done torturing me in front of my 3 friends on our street that Sunday afternoon, the officer in charge of the patrol knelt me down to execute me in front of them. He put his pistol to my temple and pulled the trigger, but his gun jammed. He cleared it and tried again, but it jammed a second time.
I take it as a life-saving miracle that the gun to my head jammed twice. Then I take it as another life-saving miracle that the officer wielding the gun gave up and let me go rather than borrowing a gun from one of his subordinate soldiers on the spot. I've tried ever since to show my gratitude for those life-saving miracles that day by making good use of the life I was allowed to go on living.
Still, I get down every year whenever the anniversary of the military overthrow of democracy comes around. I can't help it, it was ugly. If you can't picture what a military overthrow of a democracy looks like, this movie clip from the film "Missing" starring Jack Lemmon will help. It depicts the overthrow of Chile's democracy by the military at the same time the military overthrew democracy in Uruguay.
In "Missing" Jack Lemmon plays the father of a kid like me in South America who also got picked up by the military like I did, the only difference being that his execution was successful and mine wasn't. About 30,000 other people ended up like the young man from the USA depicted in Missing, like I almost ended up myself. Their bodies still haven't been found nearly 50 years later so their families can give them a decent burial. The body of the young man depicted in Missing was found, though, and returned to the USA to be buried. I'm very lucky not to be pushing up daisies, so to speak, myself. I know that.
I still get afraid every year when the anniversary comes up, though. My fear comes from the flashbacks I have from when the officer pulled that pistol's trigger he held to my temple. It was so close to my ear both times that the sound of the trigger pull and the metallic click of the hammer striking the bullet remains as an echo in my flashbacks forever. After the first time he pulled the trigger I was amazed I was still alive, so when he went to pull the trigger a second time I was sure I was a goner, so I peed my pants in terror.
Support welcome for me in my PTSD flashbacks to that trigger pull sound, then.
The good thing is that after every bad June 27th every year--remembering that bad day in history--next comes my birthday on July 1st, when I get to celebrate that I've gone on after that day now for 47 years more after all. I'll be 62, thank goodness. :-)
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