Human Rights in Latin America: A Politics of Terror and Hope

Human Rights in Latin America: A Politics of Terror and Hope

Human Rights in Latin America: A Politics of Terror and Hope

Human Rights in Latin America: A Politics of Terror and Hope

Synopsis

For the last half century, Latin America has been plagued by civil wars, dictatorships, torture, legacies of colonialism and racism, and other evils. The region has also experienced dramatic-if uneven-human rights improvements. The accounts of how Latin America's people have dealt with the persistent threats to their fundamental rights offer lessons for people around the world. Human Rights in Latin America: A Politics of Terror and Hope is the first textbook to provide a comprehensive introduction to the human rights issues facing an area that constitutes more than half of the Western Hemisphere. Leading human rights researcher and educator Sonia Cardenas brings together regional examples of both terror and hope, emphasizing the dualities inherent in human rights struggles.

Excerpt

In October 1992, when I was 19 years old, I was kidnapped at the
entrance to La Cantuta University…. When I was completely
naked, they gave me an injection in the left arm. I felt dizzy
but despite that, I could feel the terrible pain. They did the same
thing the next day. I would have rather died than that.
They weren’t human beings
.

—Testimony of Magdalena Montesa to Peru’s Truth
and Reconciliation Commission; pardoned in 1998 after spending
six years in prison, falsely accused of terrorism

Fernando, my brother, used to discuss a lot with me. In the tough
times, he did not want to leave…. Fernando felt happy there,
with his political activity in his neighborhood and psychology and
political theory studies. He spoke softly, unlike me…. My mother
dedicated most of her life to looking for him. She still wears the
white handkerchief with his name. In the intimate moments of
life at home, a disappearance acquires its real meaning.
There is an empty chair, with no clear explanation
.

—Marcelo Brodsky,
commenting on his brother’s disappearance in Argentina in 1979

Survivors of torture and captivity often describe their experience as a seemingly impossible mix of terror and hope: agonizing fear and pain, combined with an ardent wish for a better day. Studying human rights issues also entails an uncomfortable blend of terror and hope: terror at witnessing the betrayal of other human beings, a restrained . . .

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