December 10, 1983: Uncertainty, but Hope!

December 10, 1983.

As inevitable as the sinking of the juntas’s ship seemed after the Malvinas fiasco, I can hardly believe that the Proceso has actually ended. At the end of October, seeking a “democratic exit,” the government held elections for the first time. Originally planned for March of next year, pressure forced Bignone to move up the transition to day. Raul Alfonsín’s oath of office marks this end of seven hellish years of our history, the darkest I have lived through.

I feel more profoundly hopeful today than I have at any point in the last decade. Even Gente, the same magazine I condemned for its blind nationalist bluster during the struggle over the Malvinas, shares my hope. Rather than using to the present to obscure an unpalatable past, their cover this month looks forward with the same hope that I do:

Gente Alfonsin

But enough about Gente, enough about the damn newspapers and magazines and sources and clippings I’ve written about over the years in my journal. Those reflections, those deconstructions of the media surrounding me, helped me navigate the claustrophobia I felt during the years of the regime. Because the junta’s perversion of language left me with no space to think, I had to claw my way out and create whatever breathing room I could for myself through these rhetorical efforts.

Now, some breathing room has finally been created for me. I realize, as if taking off a pair of horse blinders, that I’ve directed by writings outwards because I’ve been scared to look inwards. Now is the time to direct my critical gaze towards my own self, to ask: where am I? What have these years done to me?

Posing that questions still makes me seize up emotionally, but I can talk about more tangible circumstances. At the time of the 1976 coup, I was a 25-year old student in my final undergraduate year at Facultad de Psicología at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. My dreams of joining or starting a practice  in“Villa Freud” were shattered by the regime’s suppression of psychological discourse and Freudian ideas. Instead I moved back in with my parents and continued working at the corner grocery store. I couldn’t stand being caught between the arguments of Mamá and Papá, though, and after another two years I had to leave. Though I had always imagined myself ending up as an intellectual at a university, I took a job teaching at una escuela inicial. This was a blessing in disguise: working with five and six year-old every day got me in touch with the compassionate, nurturing side of myself that the government discourse seemed to want to squash in Argentina. Besides, as I became closer with my brother Pablo, I got more comfortable flexing my intellectual chops with him. Sometimes he would come over to my from his secret study group meetings and we would talk under our voices late in to the night, unspooling the endless threads of ideas that seemed to lay just beyond us.

Now, we don’t need to lower our voices any more. Now, something positive seems tangible in front of us, actually within our grasp. Argentina is far from saved, but for the first time in so long the future seems to offer something besides dark clouds. More storms may come, but today I relish a feeling that I didn’t realize I had forgotten.


1 thought on “December 10, 1983: Uncertainty, but Hope!

  1. ssvolk says:

    How wonderful to hear your news, Lénica. Seriously, I do think this country needs more good primary teachers than another handful of shrinks. We’ll figure out our own problems, but the kids need to be taught – and they need to know what we’ve been going through, what their parents have been going through. I couldn’t think of a better job for you, so congratulations!

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