Collective Memory of Political Events: Social Psychological Perspectives

By James W. Pennebaker; Dario Paez et al. | Go to book overview
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Chapter 11
Remembering: Passing Back Through the Heart

Elizabeth LiraLatin American Institute of Mental Health and Human Rights, Chile

This chapter examines remembering and forgetting 21 years after the 1973 military coup and 4 years after the transition to civilian government in Chile. The Chilean dictatorship, which ruled over the country from 1973 to 1990, was accused of human rights abuses throughout this period. One of the first measures of the transition government regarding human rights abuses was the creation of a national commission. The Report of the Chilean National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation ( 1993) confirmed the responsibility of state agents or people in its service in these crimes. Some victims identified by the truth commission were sentenced to death (59) by wartime court martials ( Consejos de Guerra). Other people (101) were shot while supposedly trying to escape imprisonment (ley de fuga). Other situations (93) that ended in death, justified under the "state of war" or "state of siege," were also included.

The majority, at least 815, were killed by torture. As depicted in Tables 11.1 and 11.2, more than 1,000 of the people were kidnapped and disappeared during this period. Mainly between 1973 and 1975,2 people were placed in detention and confinement for several months or years without charges. The attitude adopted by the judiciary caused an important aggravation of the process of systematic violations of human rights ( America's Watch Report, 1991).

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1
The title has been taken from Eduardo Galeano ( 1992), "To remember. From the Latin recordis, to pass back through the heart," from The Book of Embraces.
2
For more information see Tables 11.1 and 11.2.

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