Pinochet update

Thomas Kruse tkruse at
Fri Oct 30 19:09:23 PST 1998



>The Spain Supreme Court could also authorize the Judge Baltasar Garcon to
>reopen the process against the former spanish first-minister Felipe Gonzeles
>for the crimes against the Basque's independence fithters soldiers.


>If you live in Europe or in USA you don't have knowledge the importance
>of the fragile democracy in the south american continent.

I'm guessing in the first paragraph you mean that there is a deep vein of hypocrisy in the fact that Pinochet is arrested, and Henry Kissinger, say, is not. (But then, old Henry has a Nobel peace prize to fall back on.) Anyway, if that's your point, I agree in principle.

In practice, though, I say fuck it: if it get's one s.o.b. in jail (in this case Pinocho), great. I'll take some right things even for the wrong reason. And when there is a fortuitous "conjuncture of forces" (say, megalomaniac lawyers, obscure legal codes and harmonic convergence) that puts Henry in the can, I'll be behind that one too. Immodestly perhaps, but I think that's a coherent position.

As for paragraph 2: again I agree. As you may have noticed my posts often suggest (gently and sometimes not) that list participants in the "1st world" frame problems in ways peculiar to their habitat and tribal affiliation. But I don't suggest they shouldn't opine on things Latin American, just as I don't ask you to abstain from criticizing the north.

As for the fragility of democracies, again I agree, but I make a different analysis of that fragility, and draw a different conclusions.

Here's the $64,000 question: can impunity ("amnesty") as the condition of birth be the basis of a "real" democracy? (Real in quotes to suggest there is much to discuss there.) My experience here suggests not. Today, poor coca-growing peasants are killed here with impunity because, official sources insist, they are "narcotraffickers", an instance of astoundingly torturous, cynical logic. In the case of Bolivia at least, I see a clear connection between impunities past and impunities present. Here, it is the same person doing the killing, though I should note the past president, a businessman and not a General, was also happy to kill peasants to meet the demands of the US's drug war. The "public" that is ready to consider Banzer's past murders so much water under the bridge is the same "public" that is ready to blame the victims in the drug war for their victimization. This is what I see, and it leads me to the conclusion that a democracy marked at birth by impunity for state-sponsored killers is a weakened democracy, emptied of some essential substance (equal justice for all, etc.).

Starry eyed clap-trap from a footlose gringo? Perhaps. But I spent the morning photographing a rally, surrounded by hundreds of Bolivians arguing "no to impunity" and "yes to justice". Ironically, the gathering point was under an obelisk, atop of which is perched a statue of a condor (as in "Operation Condor").


Tom Kruse / Casilla 5812 / Cochabamba, Bolivia Tel/Fax: (591-4) 248242 Email: tkruse at

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