Santiago, 1986 | Sojourners

Santiago, 1986

Nineteen-year-old Rodrigo Rojas de Negri was beaten and burned to death by Chilean security police for participating in an anti-government demonstration in July 1986. Veronica Rojas de Negri is his mother.

There is no escape from the flaming yellow
petals burning alive
on an open hillside.
They surround you like a lava flow,
an endless dream from
some distant shadow.

Carrying your name,
he crosses the barricade
into the poblaciones.
The soldiers watch
then follow him,
sunlight torn from blackened
Trapped in an alley
there is no escape:
the dancing fists and
rifle butts, the final blessing with
They cannot escape
the price of silence.
I walk behind as you carry his coffin--
plant one small prayer,
(dear son) among the

L.M. Jendrzejczyk was campaign director at Amnesty International USA in New York City when this poem appeared.

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