April 19, 2005,
Today Adolfo Scilingo, a captain during the Dirty War, was found guilty by Spanish courts. He released an official confession years ago admitting to taking part in the throwing of sedated prisoners off of planes. These “death flights” have been confirmed by others. I understand that it is important for many individuals in their healing processes to know that Scilingo will be “rotting in jail.” And I do think that it is an important part of justice that he be sentenced. He must take responsibility for his actions, but there is a part of this issue that will not show up in his forthcoming time in prison: he was a captain receiving orders from higher-ups, many of whom have some kind of amnesty that protects them from his same fate. How is this accounted for in our pursuit of “justice”? How did we get to such a point where a man such as Scilingo must be convicted beyond our borders to see results? I see relief in the faces of relatives of the disappeared, as there is every time a member of the military is convicted, but I wonder if true reconciliation is possible. When will we put all the perpetrators of these crimes in jail? That future seems unlikely. Is that what we need to heal as a nation?
Father died five years ago, and I have read his unfinished memoir three times through since then. I think I will try to write a brief forward but keep his writing as is and see if it can be published. His hope for recording history and using it to craft the best future stayed with him up until his death. I have been thinking a lot about how we can pass on our stories. Empathy is one of the most difficult emotions to deeply embody but I also wonder what we ourselves can do to better create space for empathy.