Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Teach the children

After our 50th Exeter reunion, classmate Ben Wagner shared with me an email from his cousin's wife, a native of Santiago, Chile:

Indeed the movie Missing is quite impressive. We had to watch it in high school as part of Chilean History. It is quite shocking to hear the stories of what happened in Chile during those times...all the disappearances, exiles and pure abuse of power... I was young during Pinochet's dictatorship (the coup happened the year I was born) and so was my older brother, so my parents had to stand in lines for hours to be able to buy some sugar or bread, etc. The military had rationed the food trying to scare the people and lead them to believe that the socialist government was responsible for the lack of goods. But it was found later that the houses of the leaders behind the coup were filled with food and essentials... There is a great book that talks about how the armed forces tortured and killed thousands of people and how they buried them in the desert in piles... Its resemblance with what the nazis did during the holocaust is scary. I will try to find the book's name in English for you. It is called Los zarpazos del puma. Another great book made into a movie, is The House of the Spirits (or ghosts?) by Isabel Allende. She is Allende's niece and was forced to flee the country and exiled. She's a wonderful writer. My favorite!

The book she refers to is called The Claws of the Puma in English, by Patricia Verdugo. Much information about this impressive woman in her obituary.

Another guy's take on 1973 Chile, et seq.

A site entitled "grounds for appeal."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Victor Jara, The Clash, and the Washington Bullets

Victor Jara was a popular Chilean musician and supporter of Salvador Allende who was tortured and killed in the soccer stadium about the same time as Charlie. Clash fans will remember Jara from the song "Washington Bullets," on their 1980 album Sandanista!:

As every cell in Chile will tell
by the cries of the tortured men.
Remember Allende and the days before
before the army came.
Please remember Victor Jara
In the Santiago Stadium
ES VEDAD - those Washington bullets again!

[Click on the audio link in my profile (below right) to hear Joe Strummer's song.]

And here are Victor Jara and Pete Seeger doing "Little Boxes."

See also

Monday, May 21, 2012

The wheels of justice grind slowly but they grind exceedingly small. Let's hope.

The New York Times
November 26, 1998

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25— Many European leaders applauded today's ruling against the former dictator of Chile, Augusto Pinochet, but within the United States Government and in some legal circles, there was a note of consternation at the potential power of a Spanish judge to transcend national borders in the name of international law.
Muted responses from United States officials reflected some uneasiness in Washington with the idea that former Government leaders can be held responsible by foreign courts. At the State Department and the National Security Council, spokesmen said that Mr. Pinochet's fate was a matter for the Spanish and British courts.
Alfred Rubin, a professor of international law at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston, said the power of the Spanish judge in the case to reach across national boundaries was troubling.
''What's to prevent Spain from extraditing Henry Kissinger, who was involved in the coup?'' he asked. ''What's to prevent Spain from ruling the world? The whole thing seems to be leading to chaos, with every country sitting in judgment of the revolutions of other countries. That strikes me as undemocratic.''
Across Europe, many officials were openly elated.
In Geneva, Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the ruling ''will hearten human-rights defenders around the world.'' The decision ''confirmed the emerging international consensus against impunity,'' said Ms. Robinson, a former President of Ireland.
In Paris, Jacques Chirac, the President of France, said: ''May justice be done, and may light be fully shed on Pinochet's responsibilities.'' The French Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, said: ''It's a surprise, it's a joy, it's bad news for dictators.''
France, along with Spain, Belgium and Switzerland, has sought Mr. Pinochet's extradition for crimes against their citizens. The United States has not.
The German Justice Minister, Hertha Daubler-Gmelin, has said she would support an extradition request if there was evidence of damage suffered by German citizens. The German Greens Party, junior partner in the Government, praised the ruling. ''This confirmation of human rights from the motherland of democracy clears the way for legal proceedings against a criminal dictator to take their course'' in Spain, a ''democracy which is still young,'' said the party's co-leader, Gunda Roestel.
In the United States, relatives of victims praised the ruling. Michael Moffitt, whose wife of 113 days, Ronni Moffitt, was killed by General Pinochet's secret police, said the ruling was a ''great vindication.'' Ms. Moffitt died along with a former Chilean Foreign Minister, Orlando Letelier, when their car was blown up by a bomb in Washington in 1976.
''It's a great Thanksgiving Day present for a lot of people, a lot of victims of that beast,'' said Mr. Moffitt, 47, a financial manager living in New Jersey. More than 3,000 people were killed as the general took power in a 1973 coup. The dead included Charles E. Horman, a 31-year-old American working as a filmmaker and writer in Chile.
Today his mother, Elizabeth Horman, said the ruling gave her a measure of happiness. ''The wheels of justice grind slowly but they grind exceedingly small,'' said Mrs. Horman, an artist who lives in Manhattan and is in her 90's.
''I want Pinochet in prison,'' she said. ''Do you realize what he did to us? Do you know what kind of man my son was? He was attractive and humorous and loving. And he was a human rights advocate. And that's why he got caught up in the coup.''
Michael Ratner, director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents Mr. Horman's family, said the Letelier and Moffitt killings represented strong legal cases against the former dictator. But he added that it was far from certain that the Justice Department would move against Mr. Pinochet.
Though mid-level officials at the Justice Department have discussed extraditing Mr. Pinochet in those killings, they have considered it as an option only if the former dictator won immunity from the British courts. Any extradition proceeding by the United States would have to be approved by the State Department and the White House.
In Madrid, Isabel Allende, the daughter of Salvador Allende, the elected president of Chile who overthrown by General Pinochet's coup, said: ''Future dictators will have to think very hard before they turn to killing, before they betray their oaths, before they break their democratic constitutions.''
She added: ''This is not a case of revenge. What we want is justice. We are fighting for justice and not impunity. I feel great satisfaction and it is a great, historical moment.''

Or as it is sometimes put,  "The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceeding fine."

Joyce Horman today

In addition to this, there's a good 2008 interview with Joyce on Disk 2 of the Criterion Collection version of Missing.

The Mission of a Sept. 11 (1973) Widow

The New York Times
April 23, 2002
PUBLIC LIVES; The Mission of a Sept. 11 Widow (Sept. 11, 1973) 

JOYCE HORMAN is talking about her search for the truth. Her cornflower blue eyes gaze into the distance, like she's staring into a camera lens. She's used to questions about her husband, Charles, a filmmaker and journalist whose execution in Chile during a 1973 military coup was dramatized in the Oscar-winning movie ''Missing.''
Yet, suddenly, her steady Midwestern cadence wobbles. Tears start to roll, leaving a streak of mascara on her cheeks. She sits up straight, shaking out her hands as if to will herself out of this weepy state.
''Sometimes, it just comes out and I don't know why,'' she says with a short, embarrassed laugh.
Mrs. Horman's life revolves around her dead husband. She makes her home in the memento-filled penthouse apartment in which Mr. Horman was raised on East 76th Street. She is in the thick of legal action to find out exactly what happened to him. She's also organizing a gala ceremony on May 15 to honor the 20th anniversary of the 1982 film by Constantin Costa-Gavras. (Sissy Spacek played her, while Jack Lemmon played Mr. Horman's father and John Shea played Mr. Horman.) The event, at Studio 54, is to take place on what would have been her husband's 60th birthday. She hopes to renew interest in her husband's case in a preoccupied world.
''This is headquarters,'' Mrs. Horman says apologetically about the living room clutter. Several writing desks are piled high with stationery marked the Charles Horman Truth Project, which is financed mainly by the Ford Foundation. She established the project to support investigations of abuses carried out during the 17-year dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
Her hope of uncovering the truth behind her husband's murder was rekindled in 1998 with General Pinochet's arrest in London on a Spanish warrant charging him with human rights violations. Mrs. Horman, 57, decided to devote herself to her husband's case after working for 30 years as an information technology consultant.
''It was the happiest day of my life when Pinochet was arrested,'' she says, smiling.
Composure regained, Mrs. Horman slips her large, oval glasses back on and talks about the circumstances surrounding her husband's death. There are the declassified State Department documents, released in late 1999, that suggest that the Pinochet regime would not have killed her husband when it overthrew Salvador Allende, the Socialist president, without a green light from American intelligence -- a claim denied by American officials for two decades.
''That really riled me,'' she says, referring to the details in the files. She filed a criminal suit in Chile in December 2000 seeking responses from Henry A. Kissinger, the former secretary of state, among other Nixon administration officials, who supported coup plots there. She thinks her husband died because he knew too much.
As it happens, the Chilean coup was on Sept. 11. So, what is it like now, trying to get your message across after last Sept. 11?
''It's very hard,'' she says, sounding more resigned than bitter. ''People absolutely don't want to hear about it. They don't want to know the United States government overthrew a democracy and upheld a brutal dictatorship that was violating human rights.
''They don't want to know that the United States was on that side, because then you have to listen to complaints about the United States that come from the rest of the world. They only want to talk about fighting terror. I understand that. It comes from a terrible fear and sorrow, but it's a simplistic and dangerous way to go forward.''
As Mrs. Horman talks, her hands are clasped around a balled-up pink napkin. She considers herself a bit shy. Even so, she's certainly been out there, traveling the world to publicize her husband's case.
HER apartment, though, feels cloistered. It is decorated with artwork painted by her mother-in-law, Elizabeth, who died last year and once lived there alone. Mrs. Horman moved in from a downstairs apartment, where she had lived since the late 1970's.
Mrs. Horman also dabbles in art. There's an unfinished painting: bright slashes on a canvas, perched on an easel in a guest room. She goes to a bookshelf, pulling out a photo album, in which her husband is frozen in time.
There's a photo of Mr. Horman as a student at Exeter; another one of the mutton-chopped Harvard graduate who became a writer for left-leaning publications like The Nation. The couple married in 1968 after meeting in Europe. There's a photo of the camper they drove to South America in 1971. ''Charlie was interested in the socialist thing and I was interested in being with Charlie and traveling,'' she says.
The daughter of a supermarket owner in Minnesota, she took skis.
When ''Missing'' came out, Mrs. Horman was undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma, which has been in remission for 20 years. She regards the film as seminal. ''It played a very important role in raising international consciousness about the wrongness of human rights crimes,'' she says.
Mrs. Horman has never remarried. As the conversation winds down, she steps onto a sunny terrace of blooming plants. She finds peace there. Does she have anything to say to people who want her just to move on? ''The sadness is still there, and the need to have the truth is still there, and every family of any victim would tell you that,'' she says. ''It's not that you wouldn't like to go on with your life; it's that you can't. You need to have that truth not hidden, not denied.''

November 1973 News Report