Sunday, June 04, 2006  

Posts on Torture series- Zazou has...

A reading list for you if you are up for it. And a movie or two as well.

Reading about torture is not a light undertaking nor is it even close to hearing the stories themselves from the mouths of victims, but I have some suggestions for your reading/viewing list this month.

We turn to Latin America for these selections, in part because when I graduated from college (the first time...), one of my first jobs was that of reader for a blind law student who was looking at US policy and Argentina's dirty war. I had to read the Amnesty International reports and others out loud, and several times, I had to work very hard not to be sick. Later, when I moved to Europe, I met political refugess from Latin America, and still later, when I covered the Contras as an intern in Washington, I got a very clear view of US involevemnt in these kinds of things.
And then, there is the School of the Americas, commonly refered to as School of the Assassins, because of the interrogation techniques taught there, and the assistance it has given to the Brazilian, Argentinian (especially during the Dirty War), Paraguayan and Guatemalan secret services.
And because of John Negroponte, whom I am VERY ASHAMED to say the Sacramento Italian Cultural Center listed in Altre Voce as a famous Italian-American (oh, he's famous alright- I would not want to be famous in this way)[btw, a note to Altre Voce,seriously, what the hell were you thinking? Have you no clue what he has done? I don't care if he is related to the de Medici- he is no shining example. Plus, my understanding is that he's not Italian, but Sephardic Greek.]
Negroponte has been connected with some nasty people which include the Honduran and Nicaraguan death squads in the 80's. He was appointed Ambassador to Iraq in 2004 and then head of the National Intelligence Agency. Ghali Hassan has a nice article about Negroponte and his death squad friends. Shortly after his appointment, death squads started operating out of the Ministry of the Interior, prompting others and Dahr Jamail to write:
In the middle of Negroponte's tenure in Iraq, the Pentagon (read Donald Rumsfeld) openly considered using assassination and kidnapping teams there, led by the Special Forces.

Referred to not-so-subtly as "the Salvador option," the January 2005 rhetoric from the Pentagon publicized a proposal that would send Special Forces teams to "advise, support and possibly train" Iraqi "squads." Members of these squads would be hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga militia and Shia Badr militiamen used to target Sunni resistance fighters and their sympathizers.

What better man to make this happen than John Negroponte? His experience made him the perfect guy for the job. What a nice coincidence that he just happened to be in Baghdad when the Pentagon/Rumsfeld were discussing "the Salvador option."
(you can read the rest here)

Which brings me back to Latin America whose experience with torture is intimately linked to the US.


Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number by Jacobo Timerman.
Timerman was a newspaper editor was "disappeared" by the Argentine government in 1977, and tortured and jailed for 30 months.

Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, The Stories of Eva Luna, by Isabelle Allende
You learn to live with things. For example, something is taken away, like let's say, the freedom of the press or... yeah, let's say that you're telephones are tapped so you say "Okay, I can live with that" and then the next day something else, and then you say, "Okay, I will have to live with that too," and so forth. And then after a few months, you realize that you have lost everything. But, you got sort of used to it. And then there's a point when you're talking torture at breakfast time with your kids. And all of a sudden you have this epiphany or this revelation in which you realize what kind of life you are having... and then there is a point where I left.

From an interview with Laura Flanigan

Imagining Argentina by Lawrence Thorton.
playwright Carlos Rueda suddenly finds himself with the power to "see" the disappeared ones and their fates. Carlos's power announces itself when his journalist wife Cecilia is abducted and he uses it to bring news of their loved ones to the courageous mothers who march in the Plaza de Mayo in an effort to make the generals acknowledge their missing kin.

The Kiss of the Spider Woman (Brazil)
The Official Story (Argentina)
Imagining Argentina (US)


Looking For Victoria(Argentina, 2004, 58 min., English, Spanish w/subtitles)
Directed by Ton Vriens
Victoria Lewi goes looking for her parents who were disappeared when she was 18 months old.
Here is an essay about it

"Testimony: The Maria Guardado Story"
Salvadoran Political refugee, Maria Guardado, now living in Los Angeles, returns to her homeland and reminisces about repression, death squads, Archbishop Oscar Romero and her continuing work as a human rights activist in Los Angeles.

Las Madres de Playa de Mayo
Documents the protests of mothers of 30,000 young people who were kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by members of Argentina's former military regime. Traces the growth of this courageous organization through interviews with past and present government officials and the mothers. Also known as "Las Madres: The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo." Directed by Susana Munoz and Lourdes Portillo. In Spanish and French with English subtitles.

There are others out there, but these are the ones I have seen, read, or personally know that author/filmmaker.

Please feel free to contribute other titles on Latin America and I will be happy to post the information.

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