Oscar Romero, A Saint for All People and All Time

 

Archbishop Oscar Romero

In February 1977 Pope Paul VI appointed Monsignor Oscar Romero as the Archbishop of San Salvador. A priest for 35 years, Romero had experience in the bureaucracy of the Roman Catholic Church and was perceived as a quiet, bookish “safe” choice for this important position.[1]

His good friend and fellow Salvadoran priest, Rutilio Grande, had established Christian base communities in the countryside and trained ordinary people to be Delegates of the Word to lead them. Local landowners saw this organizing of the peasants as a threat to their power. Grande also challenged the government for its harassment and silencing fellow priests. About a month after Romero became Archbishop, Grande was murdered. In retrospect, many people see this murder as having a transformative effect on Romero as he increasingly spoke out against the repression of the people by the government and the military.

In October 1979 young reformist Salvadoran military officers carried out a coup and formed a new Revolutionary Governing Junta that promised democracy and land reform and dismantling of paramilitary forces that were attacking workers, peasants, priests, teachers, union leaders, doctors and other professionals. Yet the coup also unleashed a new period of intense violence. Thousands of people who were seen as supporters or members of the growing guerilla movement were murdered while increasing numbers of death squads were active.  In January 1980 the civilian members of the Junta resigned, and in early March 1980, six leading Christian Democrat members resigned from the Junta and their political party because they could not produce reforms and stop the repression. Jose Napoleon Duarte, another Christian Democrat, took over leadership of the Junta and immediately announced expropriation of large landholdings and nationalization of the banks.

The abuses of 1979-early 1980 were overwhelmingly committed by the paramilitary groups and death squads that were opposed to any reforms and that engaged in violent means to carry out their opposition to the Junta and its proposed reforms. One of the leaders of the opponents to reform was Roberto D’Aubuisson, a former military officer, founder of the ARENA political party and organizer of death squads.

Archbishop Oscar Romero in his Sunday homilies and other statements increasingly denounced the human rights abuses in the country. He also talked about spiritual issues for all people in all countries in all times. He is a saint.[2]

In his February 17, 1980, homily he read his letter to President Jimmy Carter that said U.S. military aid “will undoubtedly sharpen the injustice and the repression inflicted on the organized people, whose struggle has often been for respect for their most basic human rights.” Recent events, he said, had demonstrated that the Junta and the Christian Democrats “do not govern the country, but that political power is in the hands of unscrupulous military officers who know only how to repress the people and favor the interests of the Salvadoran oligarchy.” Therefore, Romero asked President Carter to end U.S. military aid and to pledge non-intervention in Salvadoran politics and life.

In this homily Romero also preached about the church’s special care for the poor. He said, “The existence of poverty as a lack of what is necessary is an indictment. Those who say the bishop, the church, and the priests have caused the bad state of the country want to paper over the reality. Those who have created the evil are those who have made possible the hideous social injustice our people live in. Thus, the poor have shown the church the way to go. A church that does not join the poor in order to speak out from the side of the poor against the injustices committed against them is not the true church of Jesus Christ.”  Therefore, he continued, “the church suffers the fate of the poor which is persecution. Our church glories that it has mingled the blood of its priests, its catechists, and its communities with that of the massacred people and has continually borne the mark of persecution. Because it disquiets, it is slandered, and its voice crying against injustice is disregarded.”

On March 23, 1980, Romero’s homily responded to criticism that he was preaching politics, not the Gospel. He said, “I have made an effort . . . [of] preaching the gospel as it should be preached for our people in this conflict-ridden reality. I ask the Lord during the week, while I receive the cries of the people and the sorrow of so much crime, the disgrace of so much violence, to give me the fitting word to console, to denounce, to call to repentance. And though I continue to be a voice that cries in the desert, I know that the church is making the effort to fulfill its mission.” He concluded the homily that day with these powerful words:

  • “I would like to make an appeal in a special way to the men of the army, and in particular to the ranks of the Guardia Nacional, of the police, to those in the barracks. Brothers, you are part of our own people. You kill your own campesino brothers and sisters. And before an order to kill that a man may give, the law of God must prevail that says: Thou shalt not kill! No solider is obliged to obey an order against the law of God. No one has to fulfill an immoral law. It is time to recover your consciences and to obey your consciences rather than the orders of sin. The church, defender of the rights of God, the law of God, of human dignity, the dignity of the person, cannot remain silent before such an abomination. We want the government to take seriously that reforms are worth nothing when they come about stained with so much blood. In the name of God, and in the name of this suffering people, whose laments rise to heaven each day more tumultuous, I beg you, I ask you, I order you in the name of God: Stop the repression!”


[1] Oscar Romero, A Shepherd’s Diary (St. Anthony Press 1993); Oscar Romero, The Violence of Love: The Pastoral Wisdom of Oscar Romero (Harper & Row 1988); Oscar Romero, Voice of the Voiceless: The Four Pastoral Letters and Other Statements (Orbis Books 1985); James Brockman, The Church Is All of You: Thoughts of Oscar Romero (Winton Press 1984); James Brockman, The Word Remains: A Life of Oscar Romero (Orbis Books 1982); Maria Lopez Vigil, Oscar Romero: Memories in Mosaic (EPICA 2000); Romero (Equipo Maiz 2000) (photographs of Romero); Romero (Equipo Maiz & Yolocamba I Ta Music 2000)(CD-ROM of music about Romero plus audio excerpt of his March 23, 1980 homily); Homenaje a Monsenor Romero 30 Aniversario Marzo 1980-2010 (Government of El Salvador 2010)(CD-ROM of music about Romero).

[2]  Romero touched my heart with his statement, “We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.” This is one of the foundations of my Christian faith. (See Post: My Christian Faith (April 6, 2011).)


International Criminal Court: Investigation of Ivory Coast Situation Is Authorized

On October 3, 2011, the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorized the Prosecutor to conduct an investigation of the situation in the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivorie) for possible crimes against humanity and war crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction since November 28, 2010.[1]

Ivory Coast has been in turmoil since a coup in 1999 and a flawed 2000 election in which Laurent Gbagbo was elected president for a five-year term. Gbagbo, however, failed to hold an election in 2005 and was still in office when an election was held in November 2010. He was defeated in that election by Alassane Outtara, but Gbagbo refused to turn over power to Ouattara. Thereafter there was armed conflict between supporters of the two men that is the focus of the now authorized ICC investigation. In that conflict approximately 3,000 people were killed, and 500,000 people fled into neighboring countries. In April 2011 Gbagbo was forcibly removed from office and arrested with the help of French and U.N. military forces (In May Ouattara was formally inaugurated as president.) This August, Gbagbo and his wife were charged with looting, armed robbery and embezzlement by the country’s prosecutor.[2]

The Ivory Coast situation is an excellent illustration of the checks and balances within the ICC. One of the ways an investigation can be started by the ICC Prosecutor is on his own initiative (proprio motu), but that can happen if and only if a three-judge Pre-Trial Chamber authorizes the investigation, which is what just happened with the Ivory Coast.[3]

Such authorization is not automatic and cannot be presumed.

The Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision to authorize the Ivory Coast investigation is an 86-page careful analysis of the many legal conditions that must be satisfied for such an authorization. It concludes with a statement that one of the three judges will be filing a separate and partially dissenting opinion.[4]

The first condition was ICC jurisdiction over the Ivory Coast. It is not a State Party to the Court’s Rome Statute, but in April 2003 it submitted a declaration to the Court that the country accepted ICC jurisdiction for crimes on its territory since September 19, 2002 and for an unspecified period of time thereafter. The validity of this declaration was confirmed in a December 2010 letter from President-elect Ouattara, who pledged full cooperation with the Court in particular for crimes after March 2004. In addition, in May 2011 President Ouattara sent a letter to the Court in which he said that he believed crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction had been committed since the elections of 2010 and requested the ICC’s assistance in prosecuting perpetrators of such crimes. Therefore, the Pre-Trial Chamber concluded that the Court had jurisdiction over the situation in the Ivory Coast.[5]

The Pre-Trial Chamber then considered the materials regarding possible crimes committed by the pro-Gbagbo forces and concluded that there was reason to believe that they had committed crimes against humanity by murder, rape, arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearances and torture and other inhumane acts.[6] The pro-Gbagbo forces also had been shown possibly to have committed war crimes in an armed conflict not of an international character by murders, intentional attacks on civilian populations and U.N. personnel, rape and sexual violence.[7]

The Pre-Trial Chamber also considered whether pro-Ouattara forces had committed similar crimes and concluded that there was reason to believe that they had. Their possible crimes against humanity were murder, rape and imprisonment and deprivation of liberty. Their possible war crimes were murder, rape, pillage, torture and other cruel treatment.[8]

The Pre-Trial Chamber emphasized that the authorization included continuing crimes after the Prosecutor’s application to the Chamber on June 23, 2011.[9] The Prosecutor also was asked in one month to submit additional materials for possible crimes in the Ivory Coast from 2002 (when the ICC commenced operations) through 2010.[10]

Last month President Ouattara appointed 11 people to the country’s new Commission on Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation. Although modeled after South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it is unclear if it will be issuing amnesties and pardons.[11]

This Commission’s goals might be seen as conflicting with the ICC’s investigation and possible prosecution of people for committing crimes against humanity and war crimes in the country, but immediately after the Pre-Trial Chamber’s authorization of the ICC investigation, its Prosecutor stated that the investigation “should be part of national and international efforts to prevent future crimes in [the country” and that the Commission “would be a central piece of such efforts. National authorities could define other activities to help the victims, ensure peaceful coexistence and prevent future violence. Promoting justice and reconciliation . . . must be our common endeavour.”[12]

This is the Court’s seventh investigation, all from Africa. Three of the others are by submissions from States Parties: Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. Two are from submissions from the U.N. Security Council: Darfur (Sudan) and Libya. The other, Kenya, was another Pre-Trial Chamber approval of an investigation initiated by the Prosecutor.[13]


[1] Decision Pursuant to Article 15 of the Rome Statute on the Authorization of an Investigation into the Situtation in the Republic of Cote d’Ivorie, (ICC Pre-Trial Ch. Oct. 3, 2011); ICC, Press Release: ICC Pre-Trial Chamber III authorizes the Prosecutor to launch an investigation in Cote d’Ivorie (Oct. 3, 2011); Assoc. Press, Int’l Court IJs Ivory Coast Violence Probe, N.Y. Times (Oct. 3, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Prosecutor Seeks To Open Investigation of Ivory Coast (May 23, 2011).

[2] Id.; Nossiter, Sayare & Bukefsky, Leader’s Arrest in Ivory Coast Ends Standoff, N.Y. Times (April 11, 2011); BBC, Ivory Coast reconciliation commission launched, BBC News (Sept. 6, 2011).

[3] Post: International Criminal Court: Introduction (April 28, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Prosecutor Seeks To Open Investigation of Ivory Coast (May 23, 2011).

[4] Decision Pursuant to Article 15 of the Rome Statute on the Authorization of an Investigation into the Situtation in the Republic of Cote d’Ivorie, (ICC Pre-Trial Ch. Oct. 3, 2011).

[5]  Id. ¶¶ 10-15.

[6]  Id. ¶¶ 51-91.

[7]   Id. ¶¶ 127-153.

[8]  Id. ¶¶ 95-116, 157-172.

[9]  Id. ¶¶ 3, 179.

[10]  Id. ¶ 213.

[11]  BBC, Ivory Coast reconciliation commission launched, BBC News (Sept. 6, 2011);BBC, Ivory Coast gets truth and reconciliation commission, BBC News (Sept. 28, 2001);Ivory Coast launches reconciliation panel,al Jazeera.net (Sept. 28, 2011).

[12] ICC, Press Release: ICC Prosecutor: This decision ensures justice for victims in Cote d’Ivoire. I will conduct effective, independent and impartial investigations, (Oct. 3, 2011).

[13]  Post: International Criminal Court: Investigations and Prosecutions (April 28, 2011).

President Obama Is Wrong on Cuba

Yesterday President Obama said that the U.S. was prepared to change U.S. policies toward Cuba, including the U.S. embargo, if Cuba takes steps to open up to democracy and human rights and releases political prisoners.[1]

This U.S. position is wrong.[2]

First, the U.S. does not have any right to impose such pre-conditions on the mere willingness to begin discussions on addressing the many differences that have arisen between the two countries over the last half century. Moreover, in my opinion, it is contrary to the U.S. national interest to do so.

Second, the minor premise of this U.S. position is erroneous. Cuba in fact already is taking steps to  make these changes.

Cuba, pursuant to an agreement with the Roman Catholic Church, has released many political prisoners over the last couple of years. Cuba also is taking steps to open up its economy to more private enterprise. These changes are not happening as fast as many people hope for, but as President Obama has discovered, change is not easy, it takes a lot of work.

Third, Cuba recently reiterated its desire and interest in having normal relations with the U.S. and mentioned specific problems on which the two countries should be able to work together fairly quickly. All the U.S. needs to do is to reciprocate with a stated willingness to start the necessary negotiations.[3]

I have been, and continue to be, a strong supporter of President Obama. But his recent statements about our relations with Cuba are wrong. The U.S. needs to change its policies and approach toward Cuba.


[1] Reuters, Cuba Must Reform Before U.S. Eases Stance: Obama, N. Y. Times (Sept. 29, 2011); White House Blog, What you Missed: President Obama’s Open for Questions Roundtable (Sept. 28, 2011), http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/09/28/what-you-missed-president-obamas-open-questions-roundtable.

[2] See Post: The Ridiculous U.S. Designation of Cuba as a “State Sponsor” of Terrorism” (May 20, 2011); Post: U.S. Repeats Its Ridiculous Designation of Cuba as a “State Sponsor” of Terrorism” (Aug. 21, 2011); Post: The U.S. Should Pursue Reconciliation with Cuba (May 21, 2011); Post: Commutation and Release of Convicted “Spies”

(Sept. 24, 2011).

[3] Associated Press, Cuba Seeks Normalization With US, N.Y. Times (Sept. 26, 2011); Archibold, Cuban Minister Leaves a Door Open to American’s Release, N.Y. Times (Sept. 26, 2011); Post: Roots of Hope for U.S.-Cuba Relations (Sept. 27, 2011).

 

Roots of Hope for U.S.-Cuba Relations

Desires for normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba often seem hopeless.[1]

Today’s news offers two new reasons for hope for such a day.

Roots of Hope or Raices de Esperanza is a Miami-based non-profit network of more than 3,000 students and young professionals across the U.S. and abroad focused on empowering Cuban youth. They seek to inspire young people to care about Cuba, think outside the box and proactively support our young counterparts on the island through innovative means. They hope to make a positive impact on Cuba through academic and cultural initiatives guided by three basic principles: amor, amistad y esperanza (love, friendship and hope).[2]

The group’s current projects are (a) to provide young people in Cuba with refurbished cellular phones; (b) to publish the Ex(CHANGE) Guide that outlines different ways young people outside of Cuba can connect with young people on the island; and (c) to host an annual national youth leadership conference of diverse Cuban, Cuban-American and Cuba-loving young leaders.[3]

The other news providing hope were remarks yesterday in New York City by Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, to the U.N. General Assembly and to the editors and reporters of the New York Times.[4]

Rodriguez reiterated his government’s willingness and interest in moving towards normalization of relations with the U.S. One way to make progress on this overall goal was to focus on problems where, he thought, both countries had an interest in negotiating cooperation agreements. These included drug-trafficking, terrorism, human smuggling, preventing and responding to natural disasters and protecting the environment.[5]

The Foreign Minister said the U.S.’ continued imprisonment of five Cubans (known as “The Cuban Five” in the U.S. and “The Miami Five” in Cuba) was “inhumane” and called for the U.S. to release them and allow them to return to Cuba.[6]

Cuba’s imprisonment of U.S. citizen Alan Gross, the Foreign Minister said, was not linked to The Cuban Five, but he hinted otherwise. He said, “I do not see any way in which we can move on towards a solution of the Mr. Gross case but from a humanitarian point of view and on the basis of reciprocity.”[7]

The time is ripe, President Obama. Commute the sentences of the Cuban Five and allow them to return to their homes on the island. Cuba has virtually committed to respond with its release of Alan Gross.


[1] See Post: The Ridiculous U.S. Designation of Cuba as a “State Sponsor” of Terrorism” (May 20, 2011); Post: U.S. Repeats Its Ridiculous Designation of Cuba as a “State Sponsor” of Terrorism” (Aug. 21, 2011); Post: The U.S. Should Pursue Reconciliation with Cuba (May 21, 2011); Post: Commutation and Release of Convicted “Spies”

(Sept, 24, 2011).

[2] Associated Press, Nonprofit Plants Seed for Future US-Cuba Relations, N.Y. Times (Sept. 26, 2011); Roots of Hope/Raices de Esperanza, http://www.raicesdeesperanza.org.

[3] Id.

[4]  Associated Press, Cuba Seeks Normalization With US, N.Y. Times (Sept. 26, 2011); Archibold, Cuban Minister Leaves a Door Open to American’s Release, N.Y. Times (Sept. 26, 2011).

[5] Id.

[6] Id.; Post: Commutation and Release of Convicted “Spies” (Sept, 24, 2011).

[7] See n.4.

Commutation and Release of Convicted “Spies”

The U.S. has been involved in three disputes over individuals convicted and imprisoned for alleged spying.

Shane Bauer & Joshua Fattal
Alan Gross

One dispute has been with Iran over its conviction and imprisonment of two American hikers (Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal) for alleged spying. This week Iran unilaterally released the two men, a decision prompted, in part, by its desire to improve its international image at the start of the U.N. General Assembly meeting.[1]

The second dispute is with Cuba over its conviction and imprisonment of an American, Alan Gross, who apparently brought some electronic equipment to Cuba for Jewish people on the island. Former Governor Bill Richardson recently was unsuccessful in his trip to Cuba to gain Gross’ release. Late this week, however, there were hints that Cuba might release him for humanitarian reasons. Cuba should follow the lead of Iran and commute the sentence to time served and release him to return to his family in the U.S.[2]

The last dispute is also with Cuba over the U.S. conviction and imprisonment of five Cubans for their efforts to gain information in the U.S. over Cuban exile groups’ flights to and over Cuba. The so called “Cuban Five” were arrested in September 1998 and subsequently convicted of various crimes. They have been in U.S. jails and prisons for the last 13 years. Yet during this long period the U.S. cruelly has granted very few visas to the Cuban spouses of four of them to visit them in U.S. prisons. One of the “Cuban Five” will complete his sentence this October, and the trial judge recently imposed three years of supervised release in the U.S. only, thereby rejecting his plea to be able to return to his family in Cuba. The U.S. should act in a humanitarian manner and commute the sentences of all five to time served and allow them to return to their families in Cuba.[3]

 

In Cuba the five are known as the “Miami Five” and are regarded as Cuban heroes for helping to protect Cuba from terroristic attacks by Cuban exile groups in the U.S. You see posters with their photographs or portraits all over the island. Cuba has mounted an international “Free the Cuban Five” campaign.

 

The time is way past due for the U.S. to have normal diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba.[4]


[1] E.g., Goodman & Cowell, American Hikers Leave Iran After Prison Release, N.Y. Times (Sept. 21, 2011).

[2] E.g., Archibold, Cuban Minister Leaves a Door Open to American’s Release, N.Y. Times (Sept. 23, 2011).

[3]  E.g., Assoc. Press, Spy Wants Return to Cuba After Prison, U.S. Objects, N.Y. Times (Sept. 12, 2011); Cave, Americans and Cubans Still Mired in Distrust, N.Y. Times (Sept. 15, 2011); Cuban Embassy in Netherlands, Denied by Judge Lenard, Rene’s motion on his return to Cuba (Sept. 16, 2011), http://www.cubadiplomatica.cu/EN.

[4] See Post: The Ridiculous U.S. Designation of Cuba as a “State Sponsor” of Terrorism” (May 20, 2011); Post: U.S. Repeats Its Ridiculous Designation of Cuba as a “State Sponsor” of Terrorism” (Aug. 21, 2011); Post: The U.S. Should Pursue Reconciliation with Cuba (May 21, 2011).

International Criminal Court: INTERPOL Issues Red Notice for Gaddafi

 On September 8th the ICC Prosecutor announced that he is requesting INTERPOL to issue a “Red Notice” to arrest Muammar Gaddafi for the alleged crimes against humanity of murder and persecution that have been charged by the ICC. The Prosecutor also is seeking such Red Notices for the other two Libyans facing ICC charges.[1] On September 9th INTERPOL isssued these Red Notices. (Nordland, INTERPOL Issues Qaddafi Arrest Warrant as More Libyan Officials Flee, N.Y. Times (Sept. 9, 2001).)

The ICC Press Release says that an “INTERPOL Red Notice seeks the provisional arrest of a wanted person with a view to extradition or surrender to an international court based on an arrest warrant or court decision.” Such notices go to all 188 countries that are members of INTERPOL.

This statement also stands as an implicit rebuke to the recent erroneous decision of El Salvador’s Supreme Court that a Red Notice only called for information about the location of individuals named in such notices, not their arrests.[2]

In another ICC development, on August 30, 2011, the Philippines deposited its instrument of ratification of the Rome Statute with the U.N. Secretary General. It will become the 117th State Party to the Statute.[3]


[1] ICC Press Release, ICC Prosecutor Requesting INTERPOL Red Notice for Gaddafi (Sept. 8, 2011). See Post: International Criminal Court and the Obama Administration (May 13, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Libya Investigation Status (May 8, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Three Libyan Arrest Warrants Sought (May 16, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Issuance of Libyan Arrest Warrants and Other Developments (June 27, 2011); Post: International Criminal Justice: Libya, Sudan, Rwanda and Serbia Developments (July 4, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Possible Arrests of Three Libyan Suspects (Aug. 22, 2011).

[2] Post: International Criminal Justice: Developments in Spanish Court’s Case Regarding the Salvadoran Murders of the Jesuit Priests (Aug. 26, 2011); Comment [to that Post]: Salvadoran Supreme Court’s Decision on INTERPOL RED NOTICE Was Erroneous (Aug. 28, 2011).

[3] ICC Press Release, The Philippines becomes the 117th State to join the Rome Statute system (Aug. 30, 2011).

Memory and Human Rights: Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula

On September 29-October 1, 2011, the University of Minnesota Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies will host an “International Symposium: Ongoing Dialogues about Memory and Human Rights: Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula.”[1]

The  symposium will address the role that literature, art and film have in the struggles against enforced disappearance, torture, degrading treatment, forced prostitution, human trafficking, violence against immigrants, gender violence, and feminicide. We seek to address the relations between artistic practices and struggles against impunity and between aesthetics and ethics, and to give visibility to current human rights concerns and to the design of practices of memory.

I will be presenting a paper, “The Interactive Global Struggle Against Impunity for Salvadoran Human Rights Violators.”[2]  Other participants and their topics are the following:

  • Jean Franco (Emeritus Professor, Columbia University),“The Ghostly Arts.”
  • David William Foster (Regents’ Professor of Spanish and Women and Gender Studies, Arizona State University), “Helen Zout’s Desapariciones: Shooting Death.”
  • Ileana Rodriguez (Humanities Distinguished Professor, Ohio State University),“ Operación Pájaro: Expediente 27, 1998. Obispo Gerardi: Enemigo del Estado.”
  • Horacio Castellanos Moya (Escritor, periodista), READING from “Insensatez (Senselessness) y Tirana memoria (Tyrant memory).”
  • Guillermina Wallas (Independent Scholar),“Ciudad y memoria: reclamos de justicia a través de las marcas testimoniales de La Plata (Argentina).”
  • Margarita Saona (Associate Professor, Department of Spanish, University of Illinois at Chicago), “Memory Sites: From Auratic Spaces to Cyberspace in Peruvian Embattled Memories.”
  • Amy Kaminsky (Professor, Department of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies, University of Minnesota), “Memory, Postmemory, Prosthetic Memory: Reflections on the Holocaust and Argentina’s Dirty War.”
  • Hernán Vidal (Emeritus Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, University of Minnesota),“Verdad universal: notas jurídicas para una hermenéutica cultural basada en los derechos humanos.”
  • Alicia Kozameh (writer), READING from “Pasos bajo el agua, 259 saltos, uno inmortal, Mano en vuelo,y “Bosquejo de alturas.” Barbara Frey (Program director, Human Rights Program. University of Minnesota),”Forms and Practices of Human Rights Advocacy.”
  • Felix de la Concha (Artist),“Facing Memories: Portraits with Testimonies.”
  • Patrick J. McNamara, (Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Minnesota,“Memory Without Metaphor: Cognition and the Art of Human Rights in Mexico.”
  • Raul Marrero Fente, (Associate Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, University of Minnesota),”Ethics and Law in the Inter-American Human Rights System.”
  • Luis Martín Estudillo (Associate Professor, University of Iowa),“The Banality of Torture? Earning Democratic Credentials Under Franco.”
  • Miguel Rep (Artist, cartoonist),“Del derecho humano al humor.”
  • Regina Marques (Professor of Communication Science at the Polytechnic Institute of Setúbal (Portugal), Member MDM (Movimento Democrático de Mulheres) , CES (Conselho Económico e Social) and WIDF’s (Women’s International Democratic Federation) bureau), “ Women’s Rights as Human Rights. Vulnerabilities in Portugal and in Europe. The Gap Between the Law and Life.”
  • Javier Sanjinés (Professor, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, University of Michigan),”Estética y Derechos Humanos bajo la Dictadura en Bolivia: el monumentalismo de Fernando Díez de Medina.”
  • Alicia Gaspar de Alba (Writer, Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies, English, and Women’s Studies at UCLA), READING from “Desert Blood: The Juarez Murders.”
  • Leigh Payne, (Professor of Sociology and Latin American Studies, University of Oxford, Visiting Professor, Department of Political Sciences, University of Minnesota), “The Struggle Against Silence and Forgetting in Brazil.”
  • Alexis Howe, (Assistant Professor, Dominican University), “Madness and Disappearance: El infarto del alma” by Diamela Eltit and Paz Errázuriz.
  • Ofelia Ferrán, (Associate Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Minnesota), “Mala gente que camina, by Benjamín Prado: Uncovering the Plot of Franco’s ‘Stolen Children’ in Contemporary Spain.”


[1] Univ. Minnesota, Dep’t of Spanish & Portuguese Studies, International Symposium: Ongoing Dialogues about Memory and Human Rights: Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula, http://spanport.umn.edu/news/index.php?entry=297980. The Symposium will be held at the Maroon, Gold and the Gateway Rooms of the McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455. For further information contact Professor Ana Forcinito (aforcini@umn.edu) or Jaime Hanneken (hanne045@umn.edu).

[2] An earlier version of this paper was presented at an October 2009 conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and has been published (in Portuguese translation) in Memorie e Justica by Brazil’s Museau da Republica (Museum of the Republic).