As individuals, ex-conscripts continued to draw private meaning from the language of human rights and believe that their rights had been violated, but collectively, an important segment of the movement shifted away from the political category of human rights and towards rights guaranteed in the constitution and the laws governing military service.
In line with what Daniel insisted in , most former recruits argue that they were not politically aware or interested in politics before their service.
It is one of few volumes written in English to be dedicated specifically to the study of the memory of state terrorism in the Southern Cone. And The Angels Cried and other stories; It will also appeal to the general public who are interested in the problem of how to transmit the stories and meaning of traumatic experiences as a result of gross human rights violations, the cultural and generational effects of state terror, and the politics of impunity. Epublication based on: , Describe the connection issue. Francesca Lessa. The authors offer both well-regarded and original approaches.
Many left school to work from a young age to support the family unit and economic survival took precedence over political or ideological concerns. Under the dictatorship, too, politics was both dangerous and taboo. Others internalized history as it was taught in schools under the military government, or absorbed the military interpretation of history during their service.
For some the ex-conscript lobby itself represents their first political engagement. As a group in the first decades of the twenty-first century, therefore, former recruits hold opinions across the political spectrum. At one point, the conversation in a Nacimiento restaurant drifted to the legacy of military rule.
Those touting the triumph of the Chilean economy disagreed with those highlighting the abuses of human rights before the discussion was steered back to their common cause. Conscript victimhood does not imply any particular political interpretation of the coup, the dictatorship, or understanding of its legacy, and it is able to co-exist with other memory narratives of military rule. Ex-conscripts are able to participate in the movement and identify with its narrative of victimhood while holding a variety of positions on the recent past. While it is important to understand the tendency and incentives to silence politics, it is also necessary to make clear that the apolitical nature of ex-conscript memory is not primarily built on this silence.
These ruptures have long histories that, while not completely disconnected from political processes, move to a different rhythm than histories of political and social conflict. For significant segments of young people the horizon of their daily lives and future hopes never extended to geopolitical struggles, hemispheric conflict, or critiques of Chilean society. Mario Marcel, for example, diagnosed the political apathy of the s, as well as an associated withdrawal to music, drinking, drugs, sex, and crime, while cautioning against ignoring the heterogeneous nature of the experience of being young in popular urban sectors.
On the political left, the understanding of youth was shaped by a radical and revolutionary romanticism as well as targeted political activism.
These same concerns that shaped boyhood also forged ideas of manhood as well as societal and individual attitudes towards military service. Becoming a man meant assuming, or being in the position to assume, economic responsibility for others as the head of a nuclear family. This nexus of manhood, family, and military service emerged in the early twentieth century and it ensured that military service remained an attractive option under Pinochet, and decades after the transition it is still the primary motivation for thousands volunteers who enter the barracks each year.
They describe a training regime defined by brutal physical training and psychological degradation. Moreover, after leaving the barracks, the physical and mental effects of what they experienced in training, what they witnessed, or what they were made to do to fellow conscripts or to political prisoners, haunted them and undermined their ability to assume their societal role as men.
The basic unit of new economy was the nuclear family with a sole, male breadwinner.
The ideal of the patriarchal family unit was subsumed into competing political programs. This model only began being questioned at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
It was this dominant, twentieth-century masculinity and the responsibilities of being provider, protector, husband, and father that reservists often had difficulty living up to. They envisaged continuing their schooling inside the barracks, a possible career in the Army, or the chance to have a career on the outside. They returned home, it continues, damaged, with no studies or training, and with no way to support their families. To say the opposite is embarrassing. The experience of military service is often remembered, however, as a betrayal of the patriotism that they carried with them into barracks.
In October , J. Thirty years later, his memories of his conscription are framed by disenchantment. A review of the War of the Pacific, additional defensive requirements that resulted from the victory, and a failed mobilization to face an Argentine threat in the years following the war were used to justify conscription. Defending la patria was not only a question of protecting the borders, it increasingly meant educating and moralizing the people, driving modernization and economic progress, and instilling patriotic values in the citizenry.
It was also intended to drive development by improving literacy, imparting technical skills, and, later, completing public works via the Cuerpo Militar de Trabajo an army section, incorporating conscripts, dedicated to construction projects. The nation-building role of the draft served to legitimize the Armed Forces in the face of significant opposition in the early decades of the twentieth century. The same theory that increased living standards would reduce the communist threat also drove the US-led Alliance for Progress.
In the lead up to the coup in Chile and particularly under Pinochet, however, a tension emerged between seeing conscription as way to combat communism and viewing conscripts as a threat. His testimony sets out the clash of patrias inside the barracks. Because they were civilians and in the vast majority came from the clases populares , because the rich never did military service , conscripts were viewed as potential traitors to patria , to this concept of patria that no one clarified for us.
Many who served in suspect that the fear of drawing conscripts from low socio-economic areas resulted in a smaller than usual draft, their own service being extended beyond the mandated period, and reservists who had completed their service in the years prior to the coup being recalled. From the s, research on politicization in urban slums increasingly found that no necessary relationship existed between poverty and radical politics. Instead they revealed a much more complex mix of leftist politics, radical politics, rural conservatism, and political activity rooted not in ideology but pragmatic and integrationist, not revolutionary, concerns.
The elderly man used to wear his medals and march in the parades alongside the other veterans. They watched the parades of 18 September and 21 May, they marched in war bands as schoolchildren, and they participated in the pre-military brigades.
Service provided the Armed Forces with an important link to civil society, but relatively few civilians passed through the barracks. The most vital connection civilians had with the military was via the calendar of commemorative rituals. It is this rupture in a non-partisan cultural construction of la patria that both long predated the coup and survived the seventeen years of dictatorship that gives structure to memories of many former recruits.
However, to understand military service under Pinochet and the twenty-first century ex-conscript memory of political conflict, it needs to take center stage. Conscripts were at times at the frontline of a political divide that split Chile.
However, the shared narrative that emerged decades later is neither politicized nor political. It is not shaped by ideology, political repression, the Cold War context, US foreign policy, or the merits or legacies of military rule.
It is instead shaped by much longer histories of military thought, masculinity, poverty, family, and national identity. The history of the memory of military service therefore offers an important opportunity to rethink the historiography of political conflict, not only going beyond the narrow temporal focus on the political conflict of the s and s, but going beyond politics.
Chile under Pinochet , New York, W. C, C , Rol N o , Nunn, Frederick M. Mi Servicio Militar en los ochenta , Santiago, Dhiyo, Rosemblatt, Karin Alejandra, Gendered Compromises. Argentina and Uruguay, which suffered large-scale systematic human rights violations, are both among the regional protagonists of transitional justice. How have they defined the truth about what happened?
When and why have they managed to take human rights perpetrators to court? And how have they constructed political memories of their authoritarian pasts?
The book explores the interaction between memory and transitional justice in innovative ways. Previous memory studies have mainly focused on commemorative sites and dates, while transitional justice scholarship has centered on truth commissions, trials, and reparations. This book brings these two fields of study together through the concept of critical junctures.
The book examines the evolutionary dynamics and shifts across time in transitional justice policies, and the emergence and replacement of dominant memory narratives in the context of enduring struggles against impunity in post-dictatorship Argentina and Uruguay.