Democracy in the Light of Dictatorship

Article excerpt

Alain Touraine [*]

I General Pinochet has frequently insisted that his actions can only be judged in Chile since they were carried out on a national scale. The existence of "Operation Condor," however, proves his claims are misguided. The dictators of Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia--along with security forces in Argentina even before that country's coup in 1976--embarked on a programme of co-operation aimed at killing their opponents or making them disappear. They decided to make Asuncion the headquarters of the programme, or rather their plans for eradication. Hence the interest in papers from the period found in Paraguay.

The documents that can be consulted in Asuncion are mainly police archives covering Paraguay alone. Besides, as is already known, the discovery of these files dates back to October 1992, when they were made available for viewing (albeit with some difficulty) through the Supreme Court.

It is quite possible to argue from a strictly technical point of view that UNESCO should attach great importance to these archives. But the enormous interest stirred by these files and their details of disappearances and murders has given the "archives of terror" a wider symbolic importance. This was clearly shown by the press coverage in many countries devoted to the joint mission organized by UNESCO and a group of French specialists.[1]

We are faced with a find that has aroused the deepest emotions. That is why we think it vital that UNESCO officially show its interest in these files echoing the terrible events that destroyed democracy in the southern cone of America. …


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