Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Chile: 2nd Anniversary of Pinochet's Death

On the second anniversary of the demise of Chile's former dictator, El blog de la republica points out an article which epitomises some of the problems remaining in twenty-first century Chile (and Argentina, for that matter).

La tercera's headline is:
Cardinal Medina on Pinochet's death: Those who seek justice are often hiding their desire for revenge
In the military cathedral, a mass was celebrated to commemorate two years since the General's death

The service was presided over by cardinal Jorge Medina, who had profound words for those present. "Our country needs forgiveness... the only way to reach peace. Instead of forgiveness, many people call for justice which is a word which is hiding another, much uglier word which we don't dare to speak - and that is revenge."
[my trans]

I'm not so sure that it would be so wrong if relatives did desire vengeance, but clearly the intention is to discredit those who call for justice, and as a matter of principle, justice is generally seen to override revenge-seeking in contemporary legal systems. Calls for 'forgiveness' very often attempt to obscure the fact that injustice is ongoing when facts have not been established and perpetrators enjoy impunity. Moreover we all know that old saying 'forgive and forget' - one is very quickly followed by the other. And when the disappeared are forgotten, unmourned in their unmarked graves, while the institutions that caused their deaths continue to flourish, well then the world is really in (even more) trouble.

Cardenal Medina por muerte de Pinochet: Los que piden justicia muchas veces ocultan venganza


secret history said...

I wanted to build a day of the dead altar for Pinochet this year so the marigolds would lure his soul back to earth for one more day...and then we could kick his @#%. I opted for Lopez Portillo this year.

Catch you next year, Augie.

Daniel Saver said...

I read this article, and I would like to say that I couldn't believe that this sort of thing would still be said today, but unfortunately as you hint at in your post, there are still a great many people here in Chile who are not willing to acknowledge what happened or who continue to justify the atrocities committed under the Pinochet regime. At the same time, many people also outspokenly decry the abuses and demand justice. I think that one of the largest challenges facing Chile in the 21st century will be to overcome this divide within its own society and arrive at some sort of resolution that does not widen the divide in this already rather divided nation.

Lillie Langtry said...

Yes, Daniel, I've actually never been to Chile, but I had the 'pleasure' of meeting a young, educated Chilean women in Argentina who told me that it was a lie about the desaparecidos, they all just moved abroad. I was too gobsmacked to say much and in any case, the fact that I'd never been to her country laid me too open to her saying I had no idea what I was talking about. It was very sad. The same sort of thing happens with Argentines - you only have to read the comments below pretty much any news article about trials of the military to see how polarised the debate is.