Monday, March 24, 2008

Day of Memory for Truth and Justice

A military junta seized the government in Argentina on 24 March 1976. They ruled tyrannically and with bloodthirst for seven years. Every resident who they did not deem “with them”, was in danger of abduction, torture and murder in secret. More than 30 thousand were “disappeared”. General Jorge Rafael Videla, the junta headman, in a news conference confirmed the usage, They are neither dead nor alive, they disappeared. This is now called extrajudicial murder and is considered an international war crime and a crime against humanity.

Every event and movement has its own vocabulary, this one had, and has, stark and sober and brutally, fearsome ones. The disappeared, desaparecidos, were victims of government terror. When the germans did this under their, fascist regime, they used the term “Nacht und Nebel”, same program -- auf deutsch. This was terrorism, real terror caused by the ruling government or occupying force, not a nebulous and distant bogeyman bandit, but a secret, present brutality acting in the dark.

This was Argentina’s “dirty war”*, no noble defense of the homeland or conquering warrior triumphs, but murder of your brother, because he would not submit. Those who had unapproved thoughts and tendencies were made to vanish and never be seen again. Of course, all wars are dirty, but this sort is parasitic and cannabalistic and done for exercise of evil alone and is done to to civilans. How “dirty” can it be?

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, woman in white head scarves, who were mothers of the dead, gathered in the capital square. Their continual presence and witness of sorrow and cries for justice gained the world
s attention. Eventually, democracy and freedom returned to Argentina; and the wheels of justice are moving — now.

The Day of Memory for Truth and Justice, Día de la Memoria por la Verdad y la Justicia, was enacted by statute in 2002 and first celebrated in 2006 as a government holiday. The concept is universally applicable. It is a national day of reparation, of penance and confession of the nation's sins, of course, the surviving guilty are trembling. On the christian calendar, March 24th is the eve of Saint Dismas, San Dimas Day. He was the penitent, fellow, companion of Christ's crucifixion. He was the only one who in Scripture, simply, called Jesus,
“Jesus”. Saint Dismas is a patron of prisoners. We have to recognise, that, Argentina is a catholic country and understands sin and penitence. The United States is a calvinist country and calls all its acts holy, because, it believes itself irresistibly, and unconditionally elect. People and nations are responsible for their actions, whether they accept them, or not.

* This was part of a greater, militaristic, fascist movement, Operación Cóndor, which was co-ordinated by secret military agencies first enjoined 25 November 1975 by Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay in Santiago, Chile. Pinochet had taken control of Chile earlier, later this movement spread through latin america with blessing, especially from the Reagan administration, after all it was labelled anti-communist and all is then permitted.

Noto Bene: To-day, 24 March would also be the Saint Day of Oscar Romero †1980, martyr of El Salvador.

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