Thursday, December 17, 2009

Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation?

Three recent articles detail the efforts by Guatemalans, Argentineans and Brazilians to bring about some combination of truth, justice and reconciliation surrounding the events of the dirty wars in the three countries.  

Guatemalan Exhumations Bring Hope by Uncovering Past (Voice of America)

A pair of recent court decisions went so far as to convict military collaborators for their role in disappearances. Dozens of other cases are pending around the country. The sea change in the approach towards dealing with the past has also opened the door for the exhumations, says Jose Suasnavar of the Foundation for Forensic Anthropology of Guatemala.
Suasnavar says more than 1,000 exhumations have taken place in the past years, and the remains of more than 5,000 victims have been located. Though a large percentage of those victims are yet to be identified, DNA testing is making it increasingly possible to determine the identity of remains found in unmarked graves.
Using the new technology, victims' rights organizations in Guatemala hope to now examine entire cemeteries in areas where massacres were concentrated, Suasnavar says.
Memory and Justice: A Photo Essay on Argentina's Human Rights Movement (Latin American Activism via Upside Down World)

The ESMA trial is one of the biggest human rights trials in Latin America’s history. Among those on trial include Alfredo Astiz, Jorge Acosta, Ricardo Cavallo and Adolfo Donda, referred to by Human Rights groups some of the most sinister repressors among the ranks of the military. In total, thirteen marines, two police, one coast guard, and one Army official are on trial.
RIGHTS: Brazil's Turn for Truth and Justice? (Mario Osava)
The National Human Rights Conference approved the proposed Commission in December 2008, for inclusion in the Third National Human Rights Plan, which will be presented Monday, Dec. 21, but the latest draft of the plan uses the phrase "Truth and Reconciliation."
"It's a contradiction for the government to propose reconciliation, when it has done nothing to make information available, and has refused to declassify its archives," said Elizabeth Silveira e Silva of the Torture Never Again Group in Rio de Janeiro, the sister of a student who was forcibly disappeared.
"It's not possible to reconcile people without the recovery of the victims' bodies, and without the truth," said Beatriz Affonso, head of the Centre for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) in Brazil. The reconciliation that is needed is between state and society, but Brazil has not yet officially admitted the crimes committed during the 1964-1985 dictatorship.

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