Panic Signs

By Cristina Peri Rossi; Angelo A. Borrás et al. | Go to book overview

Preface

Indicios Pánicos/Panic Signs by Cristina Peri Rossi was first published in 1970 by Editorial Nuestra América in Uruguay. This collection of short texts powerfully presages what would become the cruel reality of Uruguay after the military coup of 1972. It speaks of the despair that people feel when their houses are destroyed by police searching for clues to implicate innocent people of trumped-up crimes against the state. It represents some of the silence used as a defence against a military regime—the silence of a friend protecting another friend; the silence of a parent protecting their children; the silence of an unknown person protecting many more, also unknown. But the texts also show the dangers of being silent.

The country that was once known for its stability and democracy became, in the early 1970s, what the writer Mario Benedetti called, “the region of terror.” Censorship, repression, disappearances, and torture took over one of the smallest countries in Latin America. With only three and a half-million inhabitants, Uruguay had more citizens imprisoned per capita than any other country in Latin America. Thousands of people were detained without charges. Thousands more were tortured and killed. There were no legal appeals or due process. Bodies appeared floating in the rivers—bodies whose fingers and teeth had been removed so that identification was impossible. Dismembered bodies were delivered in sealed coffins to families' front doors with threats that more members of the family could be taken for questioning. Thousands were never seen again after being taken from their beds in the middle of the night; among them hundreds of children. That's the impending catastrophe Peri Rossi was reading portents of.

With its genre-defying allegory, free verse, and innovative prose style, Panic Signs is an elegy for freedom, an elegy so evocative that immediately

-xi-

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Panic Signs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Panic Signs *
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • Prologue 1
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