Dead Presidents

Exhumation of Brazil’s João
Set for Month of John in the U.S.

It’s just a coincidence, but as the U.S. President John Kennedy’s assassination 50 years ago this month spawned the mother of all conspiracies, the exhumation of João Goulart, Brazil’s last democratically elected president before the 1964 military coup, is indeed spooky.
We’re not making light of what’s pretty much one of Brazil’s first attempts at exhuming its own past. Goulart’s death in Mercedes, Argentina, on Dec. 6, 1976, has been the subject of popular suspicions that he was poisoned, not felled by his heart, ever since.

After all, the dictatorship that had deposed him was at the peak of its most ravaging efforts to eradicate from the national memory his leftist legacy of populism. Plus, less than four months earlier, his predecessor, Juscelino Kubitschek, had also died in mysterious circumstances.
Earlier this year, the National Truth Commission, which has a mandate to probe human rights violations during the military rule, said it’d been Continue reading

South American Way

On Neruda, Garcia Marquez
& Argentina’s Stolen Children

The world remembers two Latin American writers who both received the Nobel of Literature, Chile’s Pablo Neruda, who would have been 108 yesterday, and Colombia’s Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whose mental health is reportedly deteriorating. Both were active in the struggle against the wave of military dictatorships that took over the continent for over 20 years, starting in the 1960s.
While there are doubts about Neruda’s cause of death, there’s much sadness about Garcia Marquez’s condition. But the week also had another sight that things are no longer as bleak as they once were: members of the junta that ruled Argentina during the time were convicted of having stolen children of many members of the opposition, who they also stand accused having killed.
It was a dark time for South America, as one by one, almost all governments in the region fell under the iron-fisted control of its military. A whole generation of political leaders, who opposed the status quo, were killed or ‘disappeared,’ and it’s been taking a long time for all the facts about the period to come to light.
Both Neruda and Garcia Marquez became well known all over the world, their work suffused by what was going on around them. They were natural symbols of the resistance in their countries, either by Continue reading

The Other 9/11

Chile Also Had Its Own
Day of Death, 37 Years Ago

A street performer helps to

mark the tragic military coup of

September 11, 1973.