Memory and Transitional Justice in Argentina and Uruguay: by Francesca Lessa

By Francesca Lessa

This interdisciplinary learn explores the interplay among reminiscence and transitional justice in post-dictatorship Argentina and Uruguay and develops a theoretical framework for bringing those fields of research jointly in the course of the suggestion of serious junctures.

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In Argentina, state terror was applied as a political means to further economic and social projects, and dismantle collective resistance. Subordination was instilled by establishing a permanent culture of fear to gain support or at least passive acceptance (Corradi 1982). Terror served a dual purpose, as direct victims of the repression also served as a constant reminder to society of the potential and deadly consequences that noncompliance could bring (Romero 2007). The suppression of terrorism was a top priority; the category of “subversive” was broad and blurry.

Two particularly noteworthy guerrilla groups were the Ejercito Revolucionario del Pueblo (People’s Revolutionary Army, ERP), formed in the late 1960s, which was anti-Peronist and originally Trotskyite, but later turned to Guevarism, while the Montoneros were the militant arm of the Catholic Peronist Youth. Adopting a cellular and militaristic structure, both organizations—largely composed of idealistic and middle-class students—carried out kidnappings and assassinations of trade union and business leaders, typically to gain funds, and sought to establish a socialist society (Marchak and Marchak 1999).

Access to justice became nonexistent; the remedy of habeas corpus was ineffective, suspended in practice in both countries (AI 1983b). In Argentina, thousands of petitions presented by families and relatives of the disappeared on a daily basis were always unsuccessful; the standard reply was that the person had not been found in detention. One of the few cases resulting in the release of missing persons was that of Jacobo Timerman, the director of the daily La Opinión, after strong international pressure (IACHR 1980).

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