For the first time in years the people have a chance to vote. It’s a straight up or down vote – do you want to continue the brutal regime or do something different that isn’t all that well defined? If that sounds like an impossible situation, it’s what was facing Chile in the referendum on Augusto Pinochet on 5 October 1988. Many wanted to boycott the whole deal as a sham, a fake that was sure to be rigged. Some wanted to use it as an opportunity to document the murders of 3,197 political opponents or the torture of more than 29,000.
But some wanted to win. And how they did it was with a positive message and an upbeat anthem that convinced the nation that “Happiness is coming!” (Chile, la alegría ya viene!) If it seems unlikely, it’s brilliantly retold in the movie “No,” nominated for an Oscar. You must see this movie – but more to the point, we all need to understand the message. Democracy and an open society flourishes when people can see their future together – hope, pride, and happiness.