Democracy?

December 10, 1983

Political Protest

For the past few weeks, pues the last few months, images like these have appeared in the newspaper. It is an Argentina that I still do not recognize. People have taken to the streets in protest of the atrocities that took place during the presidency of Videla. Dressed uniformly in masks, these men and women did what few had dared to do before them; they spoke out. Cambinaban por la Avenida Cordoba “por los 30,000 desaparecidos…y el justicio.” For Malena. For Eduardo. For my neighbors. For people I didn’t know. For the people of Argentina overall. For all of the silence. For all of the loss. For all of the unanswered questions. For the hope that those questions will now be answered. For the restoration of our humanity. That’s why they walked and protested. And now we can be excited. The changes we asked for are coming may finally be coming.

Later on today, Raul Alfonsin will be sworn into office as the first democratically elected president of Argentina. Perhaps in our history, but definitely within my lifetime. I don’t know very much about him. I’ve never really followed the politics of our country. I couldn’t for the longest time. Even when I finally could, I was too disillusioned and too afraid to bother. That fear is still there. In the midst of everyone’s excitement, I find that though I no longer fear a random seizure in the middle of the night and disappearing like the 30, 000 others. I do not fear disappearing, but I do fear loss. When Videla came into power, many were excited for that too, relieved even. I know mi papa was. He said, “Oye! Finally someone will bring Argentina back to its feet.” He was going to restore some order to our country. Instead, he did away with a large portion of the population. I know now that all of them didn’t die, but many people still haven’t returned. They’re just gone.

Alfonsin has made similar promises about how he’s going to rebuild this country and restore our faith in nuestra patria. He is the face of democracy, of true, visible change. Yet, I can’t help but feel anxious, like at some unexpected point, something horrible will happen. I go to work and go straight home now. I don’t even go to the cafe very much anymore. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t want to know anyone. Because what if one day, I stop seeing them. Then what? I go back to grieving? Back to questioning everything around me? Back to sleepless nights and not enough eating? Back to my lonely, mundane life of sorrow? I refuse to believe in this new government. I can’t afford to. I can’t afford another loss.

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