Each time Pablo Letelier drives through Sheridan Circle -- the site of his father Orlando's assassination five yars ago -- his heart is seized with two emotions: anger and love.
The 20-year old Georgetown University student understands the political significance of his father's murder in 1976. It is often called the most notorious crime of international terrorism ever committed in Washington. Killed with the former Chilean envoy was a young aide, Ronni Moffitt.
Two anti-Castro Cubans, Guillermo Novo Sampol and Alvin Ross Diaz, originally were convicted in the car-bombing assassinations, but then were acquitted in a recent trial.
Letelier asserted that the crime was "thought up and elaborated" by Chilean officials who never were tried. Juan Manuiel Contreras Sepulveda, former head of the Chilean secret police was indicted in the murder but Chilean courts have refused to extradite him.
"I've always thought that you shouldn't hate individuals," Letelier said. "If you know the source of the crime, in my father's case the structure of the Chilean regime under [president Augusto] Pinochet, then you can't hate specific people.
"Contreras is one man," he said. "But if Contreras was gone, there would be another Contreras."
Pablo's philosophy, he explains, developed during the two years following his father's death. Suddently, Pablo became "the son of Orlando Letelier."
"For some people, that's a burden," he says. "For some people it's just a tag. My three brothers and I react differently to it."
"For me, it's not a mystical inspiration. But I know what it means to be his son. I understand it. I accept it. And I know what should be done with it."
Right now, that means going to school. After Georgetown, where he will finish his studies in economics and international politics next month, Pablo will begin courses toward a master's degree at a Mexican university.
Ultimately, he wants to return to Chile where he will use his academic prepartion as "a functional member in the construction of a new democratic society there."
Pablo last saw Chile over eight years ago. He attended elementary school and some of junior high in Bethesda, while his father worked at the Inter-American Development Bank and then as socialist president Salvador Allende's ambassador to the United States. Pablo and his family moved back to Chile when Allende rearranged his government and named Orlando his foreign minister and then minister of defense in July 1973.
Two months later, Allende died when his government was seized in a coup by Gen. Pinochet.
The new government soon jailed Orlando and other Allende supporters on Dawson Island, a tiny island 700 miles north of the Antartic Circle. Later, Pablo saw his father at an army base in Santiago before he again was jailed.
"That was a terribly shocking experience," Pablo remembers. "Before he was imprisioned, my father was a large man, he had a very large build. But when we saw him at the base, he had a crop haircut and he was very skinny."
"But worse than that," he adds, "was that as we spoke with him, we were surrounded by military guards.
An intense campaign by U.S. congressmen, civil right and libertarian groups here and abroad let to Letelier's release nine months later. The family returned to United States and settled into a new home in Bethesda.
Pablo lived "the protected and sheltered life of suburbia" until the day his father was assassinated.
"My aunt came to pick my brothers and me up at Walt Whitman High School that day," Pablo recalls. "I didn't really know what was going on. There were news flashes on the radio -- all of them with different stories about what had happened to my father."
"Finally my brother said, 'Pablo, do you know what happened? They put a bomb in Dad's car."
Orlando was dead by the time they arrived at the hospital.
"When this is over," their mother told the four boys, "I just want you to remember not to hate anyone."
Today, Pablo says he wants to carry on his father's political work, fighting against the repression of the current Chilean government. But Pablo says he cannot follow in Orlando's footsteps exactly.
"I still have my individuality," he says.
In the next breath, talking about the dangers of political opposition in Chile, he quotes his father: "If I let my legs tremble now, I may not be able to go on."