Sunday, October 26, 2014

Overcoming Condor

Careful followers of this blog might recognize that I first posted this video almost a year ago. In Creative Resistance, I explained this work by Chico Buarque, and the importance of his song Calice (Chalice) in resisting the dictators who dominated Brazil from 1964 to 1985.

I have shared this song and its story with many students, and can sometimes be heard singing its refrain to myself. I was quite surprised early on a recent morning, when I heard the familiar and haunting phrases in the middle of a report from the BBC as I was preparing my morning coffee. That report, it turns out, was an unfamiliar chapter in the story of the civil resistance that eventually ended Brazil's darkest period.

The story is that of Vladimir Herzog, a reporter who was killed and tortured in 1975, and whose funerals (both Jewish and Catholic) served as focal points of resistance, as religious leaders refused to validate the official version of the events surrounding his death. The BBC retelling features his son Ivo, who established the Vladimir Herzog Institute to promote human rights in honor of his father.

The title of this blog post recalls the culpability of the United States in events of this kind in Brazil and neighboring countries. As in more recent times, counterterrorism was considered a goal that could justify overlooking the abuse of human rights. Through Operation Condor, regimes in the Southern Cone collaborated in the persecution, torture, and execution of dissidents, especially those who may have been able to flee their countries of origin.
This condor I met in Peru earlier this year has no culpability for the atrocities carried out in its name.
Long-awaited Update(May 28, 2016)

The BBC and others are reporting that Argentina has just sent 15 of the masterminds of these crimes to jail for terms that will amount to life imprisonment. Of course nothing can ever balance the scales of justice for these crimes -- and none of the collaborators in the U.S. government were on trial -- but this does bring some solace to families of those who disappeared.

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