Que democracy?

December 29, 1990

The last time I wrote to you, I was telling you about the impending democracy here, led by Alfonsin. I vowed to save myself by not falling into his trap, though everyone else seems to have been thoroughly convinced. Convinced that he would, in fact, restore our faith in nuestra patria and bring true, unadulterated democracy to this tired land. He lied. And now everything is back in a disarray.

For some reason, on my way home from work today, I decided to stop into the cafe, against everything inside of me screaming to run in the opposite direction. I can’t be around people. I can’t invite them into my lives. For what? Everything in this country is temporary, including compassion, companionship, and human life. I’ve learned this too many times to continue to trouble my soul with another affirming event. But, I went in anyway. I guess the smell of the coffee was too hard to resist. It’s been years since I last had some. My coffee is just too horrible to drink so I’ve gone without. And now that I have time to reflect, I can’t decide if I’m happy I went in today or not.

As I was ordering my coffee, I saw a student reading a newspaper with this image plastered across the front:

dirtywar sfgate

I couldn’t see the heading, but the young woman turned to the man by her side and exclaimed, “Libre?! Libre?! Esos hijos de la gran puta. Esos matadores! Un presidente democrático y todavía la junta y la injusticia sigue.” And immediately, I understood what all of the fuss was about, why the world seemed to move at half the speed today. From listening in to a little more of their conversation, I learned that Alfonsin had officially pardoned several key military leaders involved in the junta. Without serving nearly half of their time in prison, they’ve been allowed to walk out of prison freely and re-enter society as they choose. I knew it was too good to be true. Change just isn’t possible here, at least not the type of sustainable change we want to see. The government clearly wants to move on and act like nothing ever happened. The law is nothing but a large parade. We arrest these traitors of humanity, captains of torture and loss to make a statement that we frown upon them. But then, after a little while, we let them back out, deciding that they’ve learned their lesson and everyone should move on now. Prison is nothing more than the tap of a metaphorical ruler to their knuckles.

But surprisingly, I’m not upset. I don’t feel sad at all. I prepared myself to be let down by this government, just like mi papa was with the last one. I’m just glad he wasn’t alive to see this. If the junta is free again, then justice clearly isn’t the horizon, and I don’t want to be around when the sun rises. I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing; going to work and right back home, not talking to anyone, not thinking about anyone, and most importantly staying away from these radical youth groups. I don’t trust this government, not now, not ever, but I have no reason to go against it. If the junta can return, so can terror, disappearance, and death. I am not interested in being around either of the three. It’s not apathy. It’s survival.

1 thought on “Que democracy?

  1. ssvolk says:

    [For some reason I can’t comment on your Dec. 10, 1983 post, so I’ll do that first here, then move on to this post]
    Perhaps one of the things that is the hardest to come to grips with is what kind of lasting impact these years of dictatorship, disappearances and incompetence will have. I’m hopeful that Alfonsín will keep to his promises and bring these cochinos de mierda to justice. Then, I think, we’ll be able to believe again.
    —–
    [Dec. 29, 1990]
    But that’s so sad, Nahuel – to have no hopes. And yet I admit that I have never truly been able to trust the Peronistas. Alfonsín, at least, brought the leaders to trial, and even though he compromised and tried to bring the process to an end, it was a joy to see Videla, Viola and the others in the dock, called to account for what they had done. And now this creep has set them free. Uff!
    [It was Carlos Menem, not Alfonsín, who freed those who had been sentenced under Alfonsín]

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