On three different occasions during that first nightmarish week of military rule in 1973, I asked the U.S. Embassy for protection. And three times I was turned down flat. The last time was on the morning of September 17 in a face-to-face encounter that I and a small group of fellow Americans had with Consul Purdy. He denied there was any threat to Americans. He told us to stay home and obey the new authorities. He warned us that the only danger was from what he called "left-wing snipers."
The consul told us that Ambassador Nathaniel Davis was too busy to meet with us. As history would have it, just about the same time we were making our plea for protection, a few miles to the south a truckload of Chilean troops had broken into Charlie Horman's house and were carrying him away to the National Stadium.
THERE'S A FINAL IRONY HERE. ABOUT a year ago I attended a diplomatic dinner in Los Angeles and found myself seated next to the same former Ambassador Nathaniel Davis -- now a wizened man in his 80s. He had no idea who I was. And I had no intention of making a scene and embarrassing the guest of honor, so I decided to bite my tongue.
But Davis kept making small talk with me and insisted -- in a friendly way -- on knowing more about me. I finally relented and said that I had been in Chile when he was there, but I only said that at the time I was a "student."
"Those were quite some times," the ambassador said with a whiff of nostalgia.
"Indeed," I agreed.
"By the way," the ambassador asked, "did you ever come to see me?"
"As a matter of fact, I did one time. But I couldn't get in to see you," I answered.
"Ahh, yes," he said with a distant look. "Those were very, very busy times for us. You must have caught me on a very busy day."
In retrospect, quite an understatement. Ambassador Davis is retired now and lives in Southern California. Now that his schedule is more relaxed, maybe he can respond to Judge Guzman's request and testify under oath what he knew about the death of Charlie Horman. I can only hope that my own testimony will make it a little harder for him and his old boss Kissinger to remain silent.