Saturday, June 28, 2014

Roque Dalton y los tribunales ad hoc de la izquierda


El asesinato de Roque Dalton por sus compañeros del ERP es uno de los casos más emblemáticos de la historia de la guerra de los 80.  En una entrevista con contrAPunto, Jorge Meléndez, alias Jonás, se refiere al asesinato como parte de un “proceso político” dentro de la guerrilla: “Yo no recuerdo el asesinato de Roque Dalton, recuerdo un proceso político en el cual salieron muertos varios compañeros, uno de ellos, Roque Dalton”.  La ambigüedad de los tribunales de la izquierda se hace patente en el rodeo verbal de Meléndez para expresar la decisión de ejecutar a Dalton.  No queda claro si “proceso político” y “asesinato” son dos cosas distintas o si forman una unidad en la que, por “proceso político”, ya se entiende “asesinato”.

Durante la guerra, Americas Watch, una organización de los derechos humanos denunció los ajusticiamientos de la izquierda por considerarlos una violación del Protocolo II adicional a los Convenios de Ginebra de 1949, relativo a la protección de las víctimas de los conflictos armados.  Gracias al diálogo que estableció Americas Watch con el FMLN durante la guerra, existen archivos de las comunicaciones en que el FMLN describe la estructura de sus tribunales y la lógica de su código penal.  Me baso aquí en el reporte sumario de Americas Watch “La falta de garantías a un tribunal de justicia en los juicios ad hoc del FMLN” (1990).

Según este archivo, en 1988 el FMLN afirmó ante el Comité internacional de la Cruz Roja (ICRC) la intención de respetar e implementar las normas de la ley humanitaria en su proceso penal.  Los representantes del FMLN razonan que la severidad de los ajusticiamientos responde a la intensificación de las redes de inteligencia de la guardia civil y de sus consejeros estadounidenses.  Además, explican que se sanciona la debilidad ideológica o la colaboración en relación a la gravedad del daño causado o al daño que pudo haber resultado. 

Los representantes del FMLN también afirman que los líderes adaptan la clase de tribunal y la ley a “las posibilidades reales de la zona” donde se lleva a cabo el juicio.  Sin embargo, se garantiza la existencia de un código penal con sanciones determinadas.  Este código incluye normas concretas para la formación de un tribunal independiente e imparcial y para la selección de un defensor del acusado.  Sin embargo se estipula que, para evitar represalias, no se suele revelar la identidad del defensor.   

En varias ocasiones los miembros de Americas Watch les pidieron a los representantes del FMLN una copia de este código penal, pero nunca se entregó el documento.  Según Americas Watch, “Suponemos que, tomando en cuenta las declaraciones contradictorias que nos han dado distintos líderes del FMLN en varios momentos en relación con el proceso penal, que tal código o proceso no existe, o, si existe, se desconoce o no se hace cumplir”. 

En mi parecer, el argumento de adaptar las nociones de un juicio justo a “las posibilidades de la zona” hace eco del estado de excepción de Giorgio Agamben.  Según Agamben el estado de excepción se constituye en contextos extremos cuando se suspende el orden jurídico y caducan las salvaguardias y garantizas institucionales.  Es aquí, en el estado de excepción, que surge la ambigüedad que marca Jorge Meléndez con separar el “proceso político” de un acusado del “asesinato” de un hombre.  Es precisamente en esta “tierra de nadie” entre el orden jurídico y la vida física que perdimos a Roque Dalton.

 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

¿Cómo conceptualizar la producción literaria actual?


   Supongamos que el mundo ha cambiado y que estamos en otra etapa~Josefina Ludmer 
Aquí América Latina: Una especulación (2010) es un ensayo que deja de lado las nociones tradicionales de la teoría literaria.  Josefina Ludmer plantea que estamos frente a una nueva conciencia, ya no lineal, en que la producción cultural y literaria es un palimpsesto de todas las historias y literaturas anteriores.  En este sentido la literatura actual se caracteriza por su naturaleza híbrida, fusionada, y contaminada y la forma tradicional de dividir la literatura; nacional vs cosmopolita; realismo vs vanguardia, realidad histórica y ficción parece haber caducado.  Por otra parte Ludmer arguye que la literatura latinoamericana actual es “pos-autónoma” porque responde a una realidad económica internacional.  La nueva conciencia actual es “El fin de una era en que la literatura tuvo una lógica interna y un poder crucial.  El poder de definirse y ser regida por sus propias leyes, con instituciones propias (crítica, enseñanza, academias) que debatían públicamente su sentido” (Ludmer 153).

Aunque muchas escrituras siguen usando esas divisiones clásicas de la tradición literaria, después de 1990 se ven nítidamente otros territorios y sujetos, otras temporalidades y configuraciones narrativas: otros mundos que no reconocen los moldes bipolares tradicionales.  Que absorben, contaminan y desdiferencian lo separado y opuesto y trazan otras fronteras.  Literatura urbana y rural, por ejemplo, ya no se oponen sino que mantienen fusiones y combinaciones múltiples; la ciudad latinoamericana absorbe el campo y se traza de nuevo.  Se desvanece la literatura rural, que todavía podía leerse en los años 1960 y 1970 en los textos del boom (y que en muchos casos fue el sitio de relatos de la identidad nacional: una Latinoamérica rural en esa etapa de las naciones y del capitalismo), y aparece una literatura urbana cargada de droga, de sexo, de miseria y de violencia.  Esta literatura borra las fronteras entre lo rural y lo urbano; borra la oposición, anexa el campo e incluye en su interior muchos de sus sujetos, sus dramas y sus mitologías (como si un personaje de Rulfo se moviera en el DF.  En las ficciones (y en la realidad) la ciudad latinoamericana se barbariza (Ludmer 127-128). 

¿Con qué nociones pensamos este presente en que todo coexiste?  Ludmer propone varias temporalidades y configuraciones que reemplazan las viejas maneras de pensar la literatura.  Una de estas es la isla urbana que es una comunidad a la vez interior y exterior a la ciudad (129).  La isla urbana es una familia provisional y abierta que reúne la gente que la ciudad ha expulsado en una extraña comunidad:  “La isla urbana constituye una comunidad que reúne a todas las demás; un grupo genérico de enfermos, locos, prostitutas, okupas, villeros, inmigrantes, rubios, mano de obra, monstruos o freaks” (131).  Por la mezcla de personas que junta, la isla urbana es una espacio propicio para la contaminación y la fusión.  Entre los ejemplos que Josefina Ludmer propone están el salón de belleza de Mario Bellatin, la villa miseria de La villa de César Aira, y el bar La lumbre de El asco de Horacio Castellanos Moya (131).  En Salón de Belleza de Mario Bellatin se mezclan las clases sociales y hay una mezcla de lo animal (la pecera) y lo humano (132).  En La villa de Cesar Aira, Maxi entra y sale de la villa miseria y ahí vemos la contaminación social de Maxi y de los cartoneros que no se alcanza dar en otro espacio.  Edgardo Vega en La lumbre de El asco es otro personaje que narra desde la isla urbana.  Su voz viene desde el interior de la nación pero a la vez habla con la perspectiva de un inmigrante que vive fuera de la nación: “Nuestra vos antipatriótica está y no está territorialmente en la nación: está afuera-adentro, y no solo porque viene de afuera por un tiempo.  Esta físicamente y lingüísticamente y provisoriamente adentro, pero esta intelectualmente afuera en relación con el territorio de la nación.  Separa el ojo de la legua: mira el país desde el primer mundo y lo dice en una voz interior latinoamericana” (Ludmer 163).    

En síntesis, Josefina Ludmer propone que la realidad posterior a la globalización inquieta porque no se sabe cómo pensarla; “el mundo bipolar ha terminado y estamos en otra era” (127).  Hay que pensar en la ciudad como una forma que concentra lo social, la nación, lo global y en las islas donde la gente hace comunidad.

**Otros conceptos que propone Ludmer: el subsuelo, tonos antinacionales, la imaginación territorial, la imaginación pública, la exposición urbana, realidadficción, la literatura de la migración, el año 2000 como un año de ruptura (¿?)

Jean Franco's Cruel Modernity

In Cruel Modernity (2013) Jean Franco argues that cruelty is the modus operandi of modernity in Latin America.  Franco questions the dialectic between civilization and barbarism first posed by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento in Facundo.  This is an important challenge to the standard view of Latin American culture and society that, beginning with the Conquest, positions civilization, reason, and progress in contrast to barbarism and primitivism.  Franco describes the opposition between civilization and barbarism as a myth that has been deployed in Latin America to conceal violence (5).  Cruel Modernity, then, focuses on challenging this myth by revealing the fundamental connection between barbarism and civilization in Latin America.

Franco argues that “civilization” has not eradicated “barbarism” and gives the example of accounts given in Truth Commission Reports that are very similar to Bartolome de Las Casas’ descriptions of Spanish violence toward the Indians in the 16th century.  In discussing the guerrilla movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s, Franco shows how modernity both concealed and shaped the details of cruelty.  Torture and repression, for example, were “modernized” through sophisticated equipment, methods, and psychological and logistical training giving new legitimacy and distinction to continued barbarism.  In sum, Franco argues that “Neither cruelty nor the exploitation of cruelty is new, but the lifting of the taboo, the acceptance and justification of cruelty and the rationale for cruel acts, have become a feature of modernity”(2).

In the first chapter “The Insignificant Incident and Its Aftermath” Franco focuses on the Haitian massacre of 1937 known in official documents as the “insignificant incident”.  Trujillo’s program of modernization fostered racism by making a clear division between Haitians and Dominicans based on race, language and character leading up to the massacre and then made attempts to erase the incident from the collective memory through a campaign of fear and repression. 

The second chapter, “Alien Modernity,” examines how the state constructed indigenous populations and later guerrilla movements as enemies of the modern nation.  These “others” were perceived as threats to civilization and became natural targets for state violence.

The third chapter “Raping the Dead,” focuses on rape as an instrument of modern warfare.  Franco points out that Guatemalan soldiers were trained to rape using prostitutes and that the degradation of women was a necessary part of military training (79).   

The next chapter, “Killers, Torturers, Sadists, and Collaborators”, considers how cruelty is ‘normalized’ and made bureaucratic through a myth of civilization.  Franco examines the confessions of torturers such as retired navy captain and former ESMA officer Adolfo Scilingo who gave his interview after two fellow officers, who had engaged in torture, were passed over for promotion.  Scilingo describes the “vuelos” in which prisoners were put of planes, stripped of their clothes, drugged and thrown into the ocean as “a Christian, and basically nonviolent form of death” (103).

In “Revolutionary Justice” Franco examines the emergence of an ideal guerrilla warrior that was self-disciplined, unwavering and ready to sacrifice his life for the cause.  This ideal led to cases of revolutionary justice within the armed left in Argentina, El Salvador and Peru in which members of the left were killed because of ideological weakness or because they were accused of treason.  Franco examines the testimony of Hector Jouvé in the Argentine EGP, the case of Roque Dalton in the Salvadoran ERP, and the Shining Path movement in Perú. (See this chapter for more on Jorge Lanata’s Muertos de amor, Hector Jouvé’s Testimony in La Intemperie and Oscar del Barco’s letter “No matarás”)

In the chapter “Cruel Survival” Franco looks at the testimonies of survivors such as Rufina Amaya who survived the massacre of El Mozote in El Salvador.  This massacre in particular highlights the double facedness of the United States, a nation that presents itself as a pinnacle of democratic civilization and yet endorsed and trained the Salvadoran Atlacatl battalion to carry out the massacre of the community of El Mozote in 1981.  Franco also examines the case of Miguel Mármol who survived a firing squad in 1932 in El Salvador and the cases of eight survivors of Pinochet’s coup in 1973 featured in Cherrie Zalaquett’s Sobrevivir a un fusilamiento (2005).  (See this chapter for a discussion on Mark Danner and Miguel Mármol)

In “Tortured souls” Franco’s focus shifts to Luz Arce’s account of detainment and torture in El infierno.  After working for the Allende government Luz Arce was captured and tortured and began collaborating with Pinochet’s secret police.  Luz Arce’s case gives a voice to the experiences of survivors that collaborated with the regime in various ways in order to be spared.  Cruel modernity is exemplified well in this efficient information machine developed by Pinochet’s secret police through torture, terror and betrayal. 

In “Ghostly arts” Franco examines the objects that bring together the cruelty of the past and modern techniques of representation such as photography, film, installations, writing and archives.  These representations of people disappeared for the benefit of “modernity,” ironically, become evidence of the cruel acts themselves. (See 203 -204 for a discussion of Brodsky Nexo, Buena Memoria and Memory Under Construction)

In “Apocalypse Now” Franco examines the paradox of cruel modernity in contemporary Latin American societies.  She notes the “glossy façade” of societies given globalization, technology and increased mobility.  However, “beneath this façade, cruelty formerly exercised by military governments is now exercised by powerful gangs responsible for a culture of fear and intimidation” (216). 

In the “Afterward” Franco turns the gaze back onto the academic scholar and to readers in general engaging with atrocity in the postwar period.  The distance from which readers contemplate cruelty is one final space of cruel modernity that Franco is critical of in her text.  “However profound the impression left on them by the testimonies, readers are still at a distance and free to be in some other place.  And that is a huge problem that no scholar can evade” (251).

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Look at The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen

The Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789) has been revisited continually over the last two centuries and its principles have become the model for many, if not all, western societies.  So what political program does it announce?  The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen proclaims a specific concept of legal equality based on citizenship.  (It does nothing to mitigate the fact that life is not fair and equal to all, so you have the right to own property, but if you don't own any, too bad.)  Also rights only apply to people who are considered citizens given that rights are enforced within specific national frameworks (See Lynn Hunt's Inventing Human Rights 176).  In theory, the Declaration of 1789 attacks the system of privileges based on group identities known as the estates of the realm (See Sieyes “What is the Third Estate?”), but the law secures private property and the riches of individuals even when these are based on heredity or other -isms that promote social inequality.  Whereas prior to the French Revolution, groups (Nobility, Clerics, Guilds, Commoners) were treated as corporate entities before the law, the Declaration makes individual citizens independent entities to be treated equally before the law.  In his essay "On the Jewish Question" Karl Marx railed against the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen because of its focus on individual citizen subjects and disregard for notions of the collective, "None of the supposed rights of man go beyond the egoistic man."

Defining Citizenship
Who counts as a citizen?  What happens to people that are not considered citizens?  The discrimination against French Protestant religious minorities was curtailed during this time because, as Christians, they were still considered citizens and were entitled to the natural rights of man and citizenship. Louis XVI proposed an edict of toleration that improved the situation of French Protestants.  Based on human rights philosophy and the precedent set by prior edicts of toleration for protestant religious minorities, the Jews made a petition for toleration to the King in 1790.  They insisted that the Jews should be treated no differently than other religious minorities.  An important question was pending before the supreme tribunal of France, "Will the Jews be citizens or not?"  If not, the Jews would become a sort of stateless people (See Hannah Arendt Origins of Totalitarianism Chapter 9).

In Chapter 9 of the Origins of Totalitarianism, "The Decline of the Nation-State and the End of the Rights of Man" Hannah Arendt takes up the issue of citizenship and statelessness in the twentieth century.  Given the atmosphere of disintegration and instability following World War I, religious minorities and groups of people fled their countries were deprived of their political and legal identities. Arendt proposes the irony in the fact that people lost human rights as soon as they become nothing more than humans stripped of citizenship and national identity:

With the emergence of minorities in Eastern and Southern Europe and with the stateless people driven into Central and Western Europe, a completely new element of disintegration was introduced into postwar Europe.  Denationalization became a powerful weapon of totalitarian politics, and the constitutional inability of European nation-states to guarantee human rights to those who had lost nationally guaranteed rights, made it possible for the persecuting governments to impose their standard of values even upon their opponents.  (Arendt 269) 

In "Biopolitics and the Rights of Man" Giorgio Agamben points out the ambiguity of the very title of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.  There seems to be a splitting of the identities of man and citizen inherent in the document's title, but it also could be that one entity is both man and citizen.  What is certainly not clear is the relationship between the two concepts of man and citizen (Agamben 127).  Agamben makes a distinction between the citizen engaged in political life (bios) and man engaged in animal life (zoe). Rights are granted to men who are members of the bios (active citizens) while members of the zoe, or homo sacer who have been expelled from the bios, have no political life.  Agamben argues that the difference between man and citizen are crucial and points out that during the "Final Solution" the Nazis were adamant that the Jews sent to concentration camps be fully stripped of their citizenship (Agamber 132).  This gets back to the paradox that Arendt highlights, the "inalienable" rights of man only function for citizens of the state and members of the bios, not for members of the zoe.  Additionally, Agamben points out that Democratic societies can expel individuals or groups from the bios and strip them of rights.  According to Agamben, this latent totalitarianism is present in Democratic societies.
Additional Nuances of "Citizenship"
In 1791 the Legislative Assembly made a distinction between “passive” and “active” citizens (here’s where they exclude women) with economic restrictions that excluded a large portion of men and all women from “active” citizenship.  Passive Citizens had no property rights or voting rights, but they were entitled to equal protection by law.  Active Citizens were literate adult males, who spoke French, had been residents for more than one year, and paid taxes equal to about three days work a year.  They could own property and enjoyed voting rights.

In sum, the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen is an important document because it establishes the citizen as a subject and entity before the law.  The rights of man then became anchored to national identity.  It is ironic, as Hannah Arendt points out, that one's human rights are soldered to one's citizenship.  The failure of the rights of man and citizen to prevent the atrocities of World War II including the Holocaust made the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) necessary.  To quote the preamble, "Disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind."  Additionally, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights accounted for Hannah Arendt's "stateless people" by calling for freedom of movement and the right to a nationality.         

WJT Mitchell — Notes on Picture Theory

In analyzing the “pictorial turn” in his book Picture Theory, Mitchell begins by raising important questions about how images reference t...