13 October 2003

In the Company of the Enemy

Women have spit on him. Men have chased him with crowbars. While he was waiting for a bus a few years ago in the Patagonian city of Bariloche, Argentine media described in a well-known case, a man walked calmly up to him and in a conversational tone asked:

'Are you Astiz?'

'Yes I am,' Astiz answered.

The man punched him twice in his face and kicked him in his groin before Astiz ran away. Every year since, on the anniversary of the assault, the townspeople hold a block party in the exact spot where the punches were thrown, to celebrate humiliation of Astiz.

'He is our Judas,' said Hebe Bonafini, president of Mothers of the Plaza De Mayo, a human rights group. Bonafini's two sons disappeared 26 years ago. 'In Argentina, we see our torturers every day. The devil lives next door.'

An amazing story, courtesy of Beautiful Horizons. The brutality in the Southern Cone under creatures like Galtieri and Videla was driven by a a constructed ideology called the Doctrina de Seguridad Nacional. Go read and then consider how the emphasis on internal repression, detention without trial, and a state of permanent warfare resonates in the first decade of this century.

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