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Article

Luciana Scaraffuni

Between 1968 and 1985, Uruguay experienced the twelve most tragic years of its history, due to the establishment of a civic–military dictatorship (1973–1985); such dictatorships came to power in various Southern Cone countries at that time: Brazil (1964), Bolivia (1971), Uruguay (1973), Chile (1973), and Argentina (1976). In Uruguay, the roots of political violence were present before the dictatorial period, though such violence was consolidated during this time (1973 to 1985). In 1968 a state of exception was established in the country through the implementation of what were called the Medidas Prontas de Seguridad and the pro-military actions of the Jorge Pacheco Areco administration (1967–1972). Subsequent years were characterized by the consolidation of the regime under the democratically elected president Juan María Bordaberry, who commanded the dissolution of the legislature on June 27, 1973. Due to the persecution, kidnapping, imprisonment, and disappearance of a large proportion of the population resulting from this, many Uruguayans went into exile. The experiences of a group of teatreros and teatreras, or theater workers, belonging to the El Galpón theater company, who went into exile in Mexico in 1976, are of particular interest. Exile interpellated this group of teatreros and teatreras in various ways, by examining the cultural context, the political context, and the material conditions in which the Galponeros lived in Mexico. It also takes into account that the experience of exile led to different forms of theater work for the group. Throughout, it is necessary to understand the relationship between “the national” and “the Latin American,” to distinguish them in some way, in reference to aspects that influenced the group’s theatrical production and construction both in Mexico and on its return to Uruguay. Similarly, members’ private lives are of interest, since the experience of exile, in addition to resignifying the theatrical work of the group, meant that the teatreros and teatreras experienced the rupturing of their daily lives and their “life world,” including the disintegration of families and their reconstruction in the countries of exile, in which the exiles formed new ties and family groups.

Article

Human rights was perhaps the defining feature of Jimmy Carter’s presidency. Although much attention was given at the time to its impact on US relations with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, Latin America was equally, if not more, important in defining and implementing Carter’s vision of a human rights foreign policy. Latin America was the site of some of the Carter administration’s most visible and concentrated human rights diplomacy, and revealed the central logic and persistent challenges of implementing a coherent, comprehensive human rights policy that worked in tandem with other US interests. Carter’s Latin America policy reimagined US national interests and paired human rights with greater respect for national sovereignty, challenging US patterns of intervention and alignment with right-wing anticommunist dictatorships throughout the Cold War. In the Southern Cone, the Carter administration’s efforts to distance the United States from repressive Cold War allies and foster improvements in human rights conditions provoked nationalist backlash from the military regimes, and faced domestic criticism about the economic and security costs of new human rights policies. Similarly, in Central America, the administration faced the challenge of reforming relations with abusive anticommunist allies in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador without supporting communist revolution. Its tepid and cautious response to violence by the Central American governments called into question the Carter administration’s commitment to its human rights agenda. In Cuba, the Carter administration sought to advance human rights as part of a larger effort to normalize relations between the two countries, an effort that was ultimately stymied by both geopolitical dynamics and domestic politics. Although limited in the fundamental changes it could coax from foreign governments and societies, the administration’s policy had a tangible impact in specific high-profile human rights cases. In the long term, it helped legitimize human rights as part of international diplomacy in Latin America and beyond, amplifying the work of other government and nongovernment proponents of human rights.

Article

An array of documentary photographic practices that emerged during the dictatorship in Chile (1973–1990) remain understudied, despite their political, aesthetical, and historical import. From the mid-1970s onward, these different practices served different purposes: some made visible the crime of disappearance and its disavowal by the repressive state; others stood as supplementary evidence that confirmed the legal existence of the detained-disappeared; some were a crucial force in denouncing state repression and demanding justice for victims; and some made it possible for independent media to simultaneously comply with and ridicule the censorship of images imposed by the dictatorship in 1984. These practices also helped to consolidate the expanding photographic field under dictatorship. They include the public display of ID photos and portraits torn from family albums; documentary images that relatives of the victims of repression pinned to their chests; the reproduction, compilation, and incorporation of these portraits into legal files and habeas corpus claims; the publication of countless photos of popular protests in independent media; and different photographic initiatives put forward by a group of photographers who established the Independent Photographers Association in 1981. Notably, the expanding photographic field under dictatorship engaged not only individuals and groups directly involved with photography but also ad-hoc human rights collectives and organizations (especially the Group of Family Members of the Detained-Disappeared and the Vicariate of Solidarity), as well as lawyers, judges, journalists, and everyday users of photography. Given the different arenas in which documentary images circulated, the transformations they underwent to resist repression and censorship, and the array of individuals involved in their (re)production and dissemination, a study of documentary photography under dictatorship in Chile cannot content itself, as has been the case, with surveying the practices that emerged within the artistic field. A study of the visual culture under dictatorship instead reveals both the different uses of photography in the public space and the transformations of documentary images in their successive circulations and disseminations.

Article

Timothy Wilson and Mara Favoretto

In the 20th century Argentina experienced a series of dictatorial regimes of varying intensity, but the last dictatorship stands apart. The Process of National Reorganization or Proceso (1976–1983) was not only the most brutally repressive, “disappearing” 30,000 of its own citizens into concentration camps, but also the most ambitious in terms of ideological mission. Its campaign, officially called “the war against subversion,” was committed to the total eradication of leftist ideas from the political landscape of the country by any means necessary. This radical transformation was to be brought about not only in the torture chamber, but in the media as well. The regime planned an Orwellian redefinition of words: the systematic creation of a national vocabulary that would exclude certain ideas and parties. In order to achieve its overt project of the appropriation of language, the junta maintained obsessive control over the media, instituted strict censorship reinforced by terror, and bombarded the airwaves and newspapers with official communiqués. In the face of this repression, most journalists and writers and many artists could not express dissent of any kind. Yet singers of a new Argentine music genre that came to be known as rock nacional developed codified and oblique metaphorical expression in their lyrics that allowed them to evade censorship and to continue to criticize the military regime with relative impunity. Moreover, many Argentine youths found solace in the music and used it to create communities in which they could meet and express themselves. The regime had sought to deny young Argentines a forum for public speech; however, together artists and listeners created a rock nacional culture that provided community for the isolated and lent a voice to the silenced.