December 10, 1983: “Nunca Más”

December 10, 1983.

Que alegría! Que emoción! Raúl Alfonsín was sworn in today, and the scene couldn’t be more festive. A huge crowd has formed in front of La Casa Rosada, which the police can barely keep in control with their horses. I couldn’t make the celebration because of work, but otherwise I would have loved to witness that scene. My brother Nicolás was one of the many thousands of supporters at Alfonsín’s campaign rally last month—afterwards he called me on the verge of tears—he said the word “historic” multiple times.

And I agree—this is historic. In a time where dictatorship was accepted by so many as a default way of life, returning to a civilian democracy seems incredible. Thinking about the past few years, and especially the years following Cristina’s disappearance, I find what angers me most is not just the dictatorship’s actions, but the effect the dictatorship had on the mindset of a whole population of Argentines. The military oppressed and silenced individuals, but at the same time oppressed and silenced an entire country. That’s why the slogan “Nunca Más” has been so powerful to hear over the past several months. And still, much lies in obscurity—I can’t even imagine the sort of knowledge that will surely come to light in the coming years, once trials start and the mighty junta members and military officials become powerless defendants. And above all, I suppose quite obviously, I need someone to tell me the truth regarding Cristina’s fate. I have grown weary holding on to this little piece of hope that my sister may still be alive. Logically, I know this cannot be possible, but the slight odds makes me feel excited in an irrational way. I need truth above all, to quell this turbulence in my head…

I can’t wait to see Nicolás for lunch next week. Since Cristina was disappeared, we have grown apart slightly as brothers. The tremendous fear the dictatorship imposed on us all left me afraid to open up as much as I used to, even about comparatively trivial things, such as arguments with my wife or problems at work. I feel invigorated now; I am ready to return to work much more determined than I have been these past few years. Every patient I see now will have a little extra meaning, especially now that I am working within a system that is on my side. The Alfonsín administration seems especially prepared to tackle the previous dictatorship head on, and vows to answer our biggest collective questions and punish those who committed acts of utter depravity. Over the next few years, I feel more ready to say: “Los Argentines somos derechos y humanos”—and mean it.

Hasta la próxima vez,


PS. Here is a photo from Alfonsín’s campaign rally from last month:


1 thought on “December 10, 1983: “Nunca Más”

  1. ssvolk says:

    Thanks for the note, Manuel, and the photo. I could only enjoy the moment from afar as my work has taken me out of the country. But qué emoción, no? And I agree with you. Alfonsín seems like he means it when he says that those who committed crimes will have to pay. How happy we will be to see those responsible for so much suffering being judged by el pueblo. And now the task will be to put back together again everything which has been smashed, and you, your life.

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