Obituary: Victoria Maria Clara Mendoza

Christian Natadiredja

Published on December 2, 2014

Born Victoria Maria Clara Rodriguez Riquelme, she was raised in a large family in Santiago, Chile, where she learned empathy for the oppressed and indigent, and developed her passion for social justice. She became a leader in the Chilean student movement, from her teens and through her years at the University of Chile, eventually working as a lawyer with the Unidad Popular government of Salvador Allende. Family and friends will recall Victoria’s easy smile, hearty laugh and limitless capacity for trust and optimism. Her every activity was marked with characteristic enthusiasm and this could sometimes be a cause for eye-rolling ‘embarrassment’ in her children. Prime examples include her tendency to (even in front of our friends!) grab the guitar, accordion, harmonica, or whatever else was available and bust out the revolutionary tunes. She was an intuitive and natural musician and could just as easily discuss Mendelssohn as Marxism. Her children (eventually) came to appreciate Victoria’s impassioned speeches, musical performances and encyclopedic knowledge of classical music.