Claudio Bonnefoy Bachelet, 85, is the only Chilean reported out of the nearly 160 missing in the Miami building collapse. The second uncle of former President Michelle Bachelet lived with María Obias, his wife, of Filipino origin, on the 10th floor of the tower that collapsed early Thursday morning. On the outskirts of the Grand Beach Hotel, where relatives are gathered waiting for news of their loved ones, Pascale Bonnefoy, 56, her daughter, explains this Saturday afternoon that in the briefing they have just received they were told that since last night until this morning they have only found human remains and tissues. “There are people [dentro del centro de reunificación familiar] that they think they are going to find someone alive, I don’t think so ”, says Pascale,“ although anything can happen ”.
About three days after the collapse of 55 of the 134 homes in the building located in Surfside, a street from Miami Beach (Florida), the search and rescue work has not been able to offer comfort to the families of the disappeared. This Saturday night the number of missing has dropped to only 156 and the death toll has risen to five, as reported by the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Danielle Levine. Inside the hotel where the family information center is located, “there is a lot of anguish, a lot of stress, some get very aggressive, they want results, they want explanations,” says Pascale. She claims to be in “automatic pilot” mode and admits that she has “no expectations.” Former President Bachelet has called her twice, but prefers not to reveal the conversation.
The local authorities are comparing the DNA profiles of the victims with the samples of their relatives, explains the Chilean. Rescue teams are also collecting items found in the rubble such as wallets and photographs. The firefighters and rescuers have divided the affected area into 10 sections and, as reported to relatives this afternoon, they have cleared the garage and a section “in terms that there are no survivors, there are no bodies, there is nothing,” says Pascale. . In the other sections they carry out their work “with great care, now from above, so as not to hinder or destabilize the structure in case there are gaps where there may be a survivor,” adds Bonnefoy’s daughter.
Pascale, like her twin sister Anne-Marie, were in Chile when they heard the news. Anne-Marie, an occupational therapist, was at her job at a hospital when an alert came to her cell phone about the partial collapse of a building in Surfside. He saw the photo and thought it was the tower next to his father’s house. “I sent him a WhatsApp asking if it was the building next to him,” he also says outside the Grand Beach Hotel. The relatives of Claudio Bonnefoy’s wife confirmed that it was the couple’s. They carried out a PCR and processed a special permit with the consulate to be able to travel abroad. On the same flight they took, they say, was a Chilean woman who had a missing sister who worked in the building. “I do not rule out that there are other Chilean victims, but they have not reported them to the Government,” assumes Pascale.
Pascale and Anne-Marie are two of the four daughters of the disappeared Chilean. Claudio Bonnefoy has lived in the United States for about 50 years. “He has an interesting story, he’s writing it … he was writing it,” Pascale corrects herself. Bonnefoy, a lawyer, specialized in public international law in the 1960s. When the socialist president Salvador Allende nationalized copper, the US multinationals sued the State of Chile and the Chilean government asked Bonnefoy to be legal adviser at the Embassy, says his daughter, where he worked with then-Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier, who was assassinated in Washington in 1976. “They were close,” says Pascale.
In 1972 the entire Bonnefoy family moved to the United States, where the father would manage the compensation process for the multinationals. The job was scheduled to last two years, but the 1973 coup against Allende took place and Bonnefoy left the Embassy and got a job at the International Satellite Telecommunications Organization (Intelsat) in Washington. In the eighties his daughters returned to Chile, he never did. He separated from his wife and for three decades, just celebrated in June, he has been married to María Obias.
About 15 years ago, when Bonnefoy and Obias retired, they moved to Miami. The flat was more of a base of operations to travel to the Philippines and Chile. When they retired, they did so with the idea of knowing the world. “And so they did, they traveled about three times a year to different countries,” confirms Anne-Marie. “Without the pandemic they would not have been [en el edificio]They would have been outside, ”adds Pascale.