Extraterritoriality, families of the disappeared, and a poem

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky gorojovsky at SPAMinea.com.ar
Sat Dec 18 20:45:42 MST 1999

1. Louis Pr has brought the Linder case to support the right of
Spain to judge Pinochet. I do believe this is a wrong comparison,
and much for the same reasons Phil has given. So that, thank you
Phil, your posting has cleared up the Linder case.  If I see a
Chilean citizen suing the Chilean govm't -or trying to
demonstrate the involvement or the covert action of Chilean
secret services outside Chile- for the death of another Chilean
citizen outside Chile, I can only applaud that. But please note
that this is BY NO MEANS THE CASE of Chilean citizens asking that
an the Courts of an imperialist country do the same thing.

Moreover, and if I am not wrong, the case is more clear yet,
because what is happening is partly (in the Argentine case almost
exclusively) what follows:  Chile and Argentina stick to the _ius
solis_, according to which nationality is granted to people who
are born here. As opposed to this, you have the _ius sanguinis_
that predicates that nationality is given with the genes. Thus, a
child of Spanish parents born in Argentina is, for the Spanish
law, as Spanish as Carmen Sevilla. It is reasonable that
countries such as ours in Latin America prefer the more modern,
less ethnocentric, _ius sanguinis_. At the most elementary level,
a country that was built anew with a massive immigration would
have commited suicide had it proposed a different idea. Now, some
of the cases raised against the 100 Argentinian officers, and I
think also against Pinochet, are raised on the ground that it is
_Spanish_ subjects (due to a preposterous application of the _ius
sanguinis_) who were murdered or made disappear by the Chilean
dictator. As you see, the extraterritoriality of the Garzon Court
is obvious. We cannot accept it, in the same measure we do not
accept the illegitimate decrees and laws by which the Argentinian
state has accepted the jurisdiction of London or New York
tribunals in the case of the foreign debt. In fact, it is the
same thing we are talking about.

2. Now, the disagreement of Louis has brought to debate another
very thorny issue, that of the political action and meaning of
groups like Madres de Plaza de Mayo, Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo,
and H.I.J.O.S.  All these groups (particularly the first two -or
three, since Madres has split in two) share two characteristics:

(a) they struggle in order to give legal solution to the PRIVATE
consequences of the murders and the kidnappings of the Years of
Lead in Argentina. All of their action is CONCRETELY
NON-POLITICAL, no matter how politicized may some of the leaders
try to make their struggle look. In fact, the rift within Madres
was produced because Hebe de Bonafini attempted to infuse the
group with political consciousness.  The problem with this is
that the Courts DO NOT attend political trials, only PRIVATE
trials. You can not put a nail in the wall using a screwdriver.
If you use a screwdriver you will -obviously- drive a screw in.
Or get nothing done.

So that, the whole action of these groups tends to fall into the
limits of liberal democratism (individual vs. individual, the
abstract right of each citizen against the State, etc.). Class
struggle is, BY DEFINITION, put away of the action of these
groups. The group in Madres that opposes Hebe de Bonafini calls
itself "Linea Fundadora" (the Founding Line) which is absolutely
correct. The Founding Line of the Madres was to look for a
collective action of the relatives of the victims in order to
obtain private reparations. The heroism and endurance of these
admirable women, which I greatly respect, must not make us lose
sight of the essential APOLITICISM of their concrete action, an
apoliticism that, I repeat, goes beyond whatever will they may
have and whatever intention they may, one by one, try to infuse
into the movement.

(b) they have, consequently, no explanation for what happened to
their relatives. They crystalize their pains and suffering, in
their struggle to have the desaparecidos put in clear, in their
struggle to find out where are the bones of their beloved ones.
Thus, they are an important piece in the whole set of
institutions, deceptive action, and traits of culture that keep
Argentinians far away from that essential activity that follows a
defeat: to understand what we did not do well, where did we make
blunders, why we were defeated. In this sense, and I know I am
going to be cruel on the next line, THEY ARE KILLING THEIR
RELATIVES TWICE. People murdered by the dictatorship would be
ashamed to discover that they are being treated as poor little
kids with good ideas and feelings, who were killed because Big
Man In Green Clothes is a born criminal.  They all knew they were
acting politically, and what they would have been doing today
(or, better said, what they would have been doing today IF THEY
not to cry in the corners and ask for help from the imperialist
Courts. They would have been working to explain their countymen
and women what the hell went wrong, and how should we go ahead

I will stop here with this posting. I want to open a vigorous
debate on this issue both on Marxism and L-I, but I want others
to come to the fore, to criticize and to argue. This is much
needed in a country where, only yesterday, thousands of people
were attacked by the Gendarmería (formerly a frontiers guard, now
a militarized police much like the National Guard), and
apparently five were killed (two have been recognized by the
government). The struggle of the Madres, of the Abuelas and of
H.I.J.O.S. is laudable and should be supported, but it has no
progressive -not to say revolutionary- contents by itself. While
we do not move ahead of this wailing and this painful
reivindicative ground, people will go on dying in popular
upheavals and protests, people that will never have Madres to
raise their banner the world over. This is an old story in
Argentina, and I suppose that during the debate that I am trying
to trigger I will have a lot more to say on it.

3. Yoshie has asked me to post some poems by my late friend Yiyi.
I suppose that this is the moment when I should begin. The poem
you are about to read (in Spanish, I do not dare translate it, it
is so delicate in the fabulous dignity it confers to vulgar,
everyday words that I am afraid the damage would be excessive).
Keep in mind that this poem was written during the late 1970s, in
Argentina, during the darkest night that benighted our country
ever since Mitre. Its publication, on a litttle book that carried
the name _Contra viento y marea_ in 1981, was a political action
itself! It has no title, it sums up what I feel is the opposite
that the Madres are doing, and here it goes:

Nos sabemos valientes.
El que hoy nos aprisione el sano miedo
no dice que seamos otra cosa.
Dice que aquí se está matando.
Dice que aquí se está muriendo.
Que aquí están desamparados los padres y los hijos.
Y que hay balas de todos los calibres perdidas y en acecho.
El miedo nos hará obrar serenos,
primero cuidaremos nuestra vida
y cuando sea el momento
se opondrán nuestros pechos a la muerte.
Ya tenemos en esto un gran oficio
que habremos de cuidar para ejercerlo.
Ahora compñeros, vamos hasta que aclare
a analizar los hechos que pudieron
hacer que nos cercara este horror,
este miedo, este cuidado.
Y a organizarnos luego.


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