This week, we read about the emergence of Human Rights groups in Latin America, and the reaction of governments and government officials. I found the reading a bit difficult to take in. It focused on quite a horrific subject matter, and it really touched me. I am very grateful to have read about this topic, as I think it is important to know that these situations happen around the world, even though we may not be aware of it. Anyways, here is my take of what I understood in the reading for this week:
It is now evident to me that Latin American states at the time were weak. As put by Dawson in the reading, they relied on buying the loyalty of allies and brutalizing their enemies. These states found it very challenging to govern themselves. On the other hand, stronger states thrived through little violence and explicit deal-making. With new military technology, states turned towards militarized regimes, and terror was enhanced by warfare techniques introduced in the Cold War. I found it interesting how leaders saw these technologies as a guarantee for the security of the people, while their enemies saw this as an opportunity for the government to dominate through distress. Those who opposed these leaders were often charged with treason, as they undermined national projects and embarrassed authoritarians. This really reminded me of the caudillos, who would rule over the nation through fear. Furthermore, exile became popular in Latin America. With the invention of the internet, news of what was going on in these states spread internationally which shed a bad light on these leaders.
The Madres de la Plaza de Mayo in Argentina was very saddening for me to read. The Madres were a group of mothers whose children went missing during the late 1970s. During the dirty wars, states made their opposers systemically “disappear,” and denied any affiliation to the situation. These mothers gathered weekly in the plaza to publicly demand the return of their children. I cannot imagine the pain felt by these women, and I am inspired by their strength. I was utterly shocked to read the the government has murdered between 9,000-30,000 people during that time.
My question for this week’s class is as follows:
Do you think that the authoritarians in Latin America knew that the widespread of information through the media (cellphones, television, internet, emails, etc.) would backfire on them, exposing their crimes? In other words, did the governments ever think that modernization through media platforms would ultimately uncover their secrets?