I am beyond livid. Today President Menem announced another presidential pardon, and now five more ex-junta members will walk free. In October, it was Galtieri, Anaya, and Lami Dozo, and now Videla, Viola, Agosti, Massera, and Lambruschini. For months Menem has been talking about these presidential pardons, but since he kept postponing the decision, I started to think it wouldn’t happen. And after he pardoned those bastards in October, I was horrified but I thought that would be the end of it. And now Videla is getting out of prison after only five years! Just five short years! And here I am, forty years old, having spent the last twelve years grieving for my brother. Twelve years that have seemed like an eternity.
Of course, wonderful things have also happened in these past twelve years. Marcello and I have two kids now, Flor and Nicolas, ages 7 and 4. Flor is so driven, so smart, and she’s begun asking questions about what’s happening in our country. There has been a lot to explain recently in regards to the military rebellions and the MTP uprising. It’s hard to explain why people are so passionate and mad now without explaining the horrors of the past. Marcello and I have had to explain to both Flor and Nicolas why Kevin doesn’t have a father, why they don’t have an uncle. We tell them that before they were born, the military was in charge of Argentina, and they decided they didn’t like Eze so they kidnapped him and killed him. Flor asks why we don’t go to put stones on her uncles grave or light a yahrzeit candle for him every year. We tell her that we don’t know where the military buried his body, and we don’t know the day they killed him. She asks if we can go looking at the names in cemeteries to try and find him. These questions break my heart.
Exhumations of mass graves have led to the identification of many of the disappeared. Some of the Madres are deeply opposed to these exhumations, however. When the organization split in ’86, me and my mother sided with the Founding Line. The Madres following Hebe de Bonafini claim that exhuming bodies is just a way to show them that the disappeared are dead and that they need to move on. They don’t want to stop grieving, because if they do they’re afraid that our society will begin to forget what happened. I thought Mamá would agree with these mothers, since she still talks about Eze in the present tense. But surprisingly, she agreed with me. “My baby deserves a funeral,” she told me. Finding his remains doesn’t mean we would stop grieving and eventually forget, it just means we could bury him. We could be certain of something–Eze is dead, and he is buried here, and we don’t have to spend another twelve years or longer wondering what ever happened to him, where he is.
I can’t believe Videla has been pardoned. Since he was jailed in ’85, I’ve always thought, Even if I don’t know where Eze is buried, at least I know that Videla is stuffed away in some jail cell. How will I ever soothe my aching heart now knowing that Videla and so many others are getting away unpunished? This is not reconciliation!