Word has leaked like water soaks through yerba that a verdict has been handed down. Just an hour ago, I dropped my mate gourd because I thought that a bomb had been dropped, sounding as if it came from a mere block away. When I ran to my window and looked across Sánchez de Bustamante, I saw a different kind of explosive: several small fireworks in the dusk sky, mimicking the dancing fuegos we had all been experiencing internally ever since the grapevine alerted us of Dr. Raúl Alfonsín’s victory over Bignone and the rest of El Proceso.
After three months of watching obsessively–masochistically–the televised trial of the regime’s disgraceful, evasive Final Report regarding the guerra sucia, the people of Argentina have said no. No to foolish wars abroad; no to depression; no to censorship; no to the eradication of social services; no to the destruction of families. No. Democracia o antidemocracia. This time, the people have chosen. Exercised our will, our natural liberty, or some representative form of it.
But… perhaps I have come to my journal prematurely. I sense inside me a numbing of expression, an instinctive pushing away of conclusive emotion… I don’t know what to feel. I am not… happy. Not yet. I suppose these seven, eight—infinite—years of dystopia in Argentina have granted me an intense skepticism of everything, tainted forever my capacity to have faith. Most of all, my sad apprehension has me hesitant to accept the possibility that Alfonsín’s election might actually be a passage out, a passage to freedom.
Alfonsín calls himself a social democrat. He has promised to investigate and address the abuses of the regime. La Unión Cívica Radical. Radical. Is this too good to be true? Gustavo, one of my more radical colleagues and confidential semi-subversive allies at UNICEN, has expressed frustration at our recent meetings about this “progressive government of the future of La Patria” that folks seem to be preemptively, a priori touting. He says that it will never be true progressivism (he means Marxism, I know) at the forefront of this country. That realistically, the best possible outcome for our society post-dictatorship would be for the passive sympathizers of subversives to take power, to uphold some kind of democracy that does not reproduce systems of terrorism. I can’t help but fear he is right–that what’s to come might very well be better, but that hierarchies of power and oppression might very well continue to structure our way of life.
As I refill my gourd and sip my mate amargo by the window, I notice more fireworks break out in the distance. But one main theme of questions dominates my mind. What will this news mean for the disappeared, the exiled? Will the captured be set free? Will papá come home?
And throughout it all, in the back of my mind, where I store a dangerous cognitive chamber of doubt, Viola’s words echo: ausente para siempre.
But ay, Maxi just came home. He is jubilant. Che, what’s this? He’s saying….
He wants to try to have a child.