The principle of accountability is essential to securing a democracy based on the rule of law. This is especially important for democracies that have recently emerged from authoritarianism. In these cases, accountability begins with truth-telling. Truth can be a powerful impetus for a society to redress past human rights violations. The task of telling the truth is a long and difficult one. However, this effort is necessary if society wants to undertake a genuine healing process and build a democratic system that will prevent these atrocities from happening again.
Latin American societies are still trying to come to terms with their recent past. The tragic events experienced throughout the hemisphere in the 1970s and 1980s have had a major impact on democracy and human rights. In spite of important efforts to restore truth and justice, there remains a sense of impunity that impedes genuine pardon and reconciliation. In spite of the efforts of some elected leaders to impose forgetfulness, not a few believe that strengthening collective memory is crucial for building democratic governance.
This book seeks to understand a little-known aspect of Latin America's recent authoritarian past: the extraterritorial role played by national security forces responsible for unprecedented programs of state terror in their countries. A crucial case of these activities beyond borders was the anti-Communist crusade led by the Argentine military in Central America in the late 1970s and