Sunday, 15 February 2009

Argentina: Interview with Martín Caparrós

I've also read* an interview with Argentine writer Martín Caparrós (and I admit, I'm not familiar with his work, but I know that he fled Argentina to exile in 1976).
Here's a partial translation of the article:

Are the wounds of the dictatorship still open?
It's not that the wounds are still open but that there is a different type of wound. There is an insistence in presenting the principle effects of the dictatorship as its cruelty and excess, and above all its torturers and disappeared people, when, in my opinion, the direct consequence of the dictatorship is the Argentina of today.

What do you mean by that?
They try to give the dictatorship a museal character, without really studying the reasons why those men decided to kill thousands of people, that they were seeking an important social and political change, and they got one. Argentina today is sharply socially divided, we are living a process of latin-americanisation of the country, which wasn't the case several decades ago, and which meant that the State abandoned its obligations in health, education, housing. And continuing to talk about the torture and the deaths is a way of covering that fact. The present is what is important.

So it's about wiping the slate clean?
Absolutely. We need to keep talking about this void and understand that everything was done for a reason and that those atrocities took place to create the Argentina of today and this way of not wiping the slate clean is to keep on discussing contemperary Argentina and not lamenting what happened 30 years ago.

There's a bit more; Spanish speakers can read the whole thing by following the link below.

I find these statements actually really interesting and find myself nodding along with much of them. Caparros is quite right; the effects of the dictatorship are to be felt not only among the families of the disappeared themselves or in the courtrooms where a very few human rights abusers are finally feeling the long arm of the law. It provoked a social fragmentation which went very deep and which is difficult, if not impossible, to separate from other social, economic and political issues.

So what is the answer? Is remembering the torture and disappearances doing more harm than good? Naturally if I was going to answer 'yes' I'd have to change the direction of the blog pretty drastically. Groups such as the Madres of the Plaza de Mayo led by Hebe Bonafini have, indeed, over the years moved away from a consideration of their specific relatives to a general commemoration of all victims, and also to a collaboration with other leftist groups, including the children of the disappeared (HIJ@S) and the piqueteros. They do not involve themselves with purely memorial activities, but prefer initiatives such as educational projects, human rights courses, and so on.

For me, remembering the abuses is an important part of building a new society. Added to that is the simple point that when perpetrators are living free and have not been tried, and adults are still growing up ignorant of their true parentage, the crimes are continuing and there can be no 'forgetting' when justice is still lacking. But Caparros gives a timely reminder that memorials must not be used as an excuse to ignore continuing injustices; simply reciting 'nunca mas' does nothing.

La Argentina de hoy es consecuencia de la dictadura (Cambio)

* Thanks to Listen, Yankee! for pointing out this article.

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