The Art Of Political Murder -Or- How With Great Sacrifice, Impossible Justice Is Attainable
For this, the first week of 2011, I had the uncanily difficult task of choosing what to read. My Kindle is currently stacked with no less that 3 books I’ve started and for one reason or another abandoned, 17 books that seemed like must reads at the time, & 5 newly acquired paperbacks I picked up in my New Years Day raid on Ardvarkk Books.
And although I know that there are plenty of delightful escapades awaiting me within the circuitry of my kindle, the burnt golden & black cover seemed hauntingly to taunt me from my shelf…
And so, here goes…
Week 1 of 52:
The Line Between Crime & Politics [in south america] Can Be So Fine As To Not Even Exist - Mario Domingo (lead ODHA lawyer)
There are few things as terrifying & dismissive of my relative peace then the renewed knowledge that I know shit about the world.
How it works.
Who’s in charge.
Why things happen the way they do…
I don’t know shit.
And what’s worse, is that every time I relearn this simple truth I am faced with the ever increasing knowledge that I’m not alone in my ignorance…
even people who work tirelessly & at great personal cost to themselves and the ones they love to discover the truth,
in the end, what they piece together,
what has previously transpired,
is neither simple, nor the truth.
But for those who work hard & long enough, what their endevours amount to
is historical. Retell-able in it’s cohesiveness & made augmentable by transparency’s ability to dissuade fear from the disempowered.
Which is what is brillant & terrifying about this account of the murder of Guatamalian Bishop Gerardi in 1998*.
Goldman spent the last 10 years collecting pieces of the puzzle and has presented them to us in all their horror & sordid relationships to one another; painting a picture as coherent as any could be, given what transpired both in the almost 30 years of war prior to Gerardi’s murder & the decade of state sponsered disinformation & distraction there after.
However, whatever realization of truth or history revealed by Goldman is less relavant to the future of Guatamala (and to all who seek justice against the odds) than is the resounding exhale that there is any possible resolve to the story at all. And in the case of who killed the bishop, the result is that a team of individuals toiled endlessly & fought a military junta, death threats, politically motivated murders, and assilum to gain the right to continue to find parts of the truth; to continue to write this history.
True, a few were tried & punished, but many more of the most powerful men accused & implicated in these decades of research have gone on, without challenge, to manage gangs & cartels instead of military clandestine units. Some of these same cartels are now involved in the unspeakable (mostly, because those who do speak loose their lives) atrocities going on currently in mexico & central america. And those who continue to toil away at prosecuting the intellectual masters of Bishop Gerardi’s murder, will very likely be swallowed in those new political clusterfucks.
All in the hope that others would know something different; that how things were is not how they must remain.
Mind you, there is room for celebration within Goldman’s accounts; the few have gained the right to continue to expose more pieces of what happend, not just to the Bishop, but to others who were silenced; and, ultimately, their work continues by educating & swaying popular opinion towards political reform.
But this is largely not a happy ending, nor a tale of redemption.
What Goldman really gifts us with his work is a clearer vision of the world as it is.
Fucked, riddled with lies, and waiting to be undone.
*Bishop Girardi (1922- 1998) worked on the Recovery of Historical Memory (REMHI) project, which was published just prior to his death. Part of the humanitarian effort in Guatemala to account for the tens of thousands dissapeared or murder during the civil war, ultimately leading to the framework of the 1996, UN- lead peace process.
ps- Watch Romero if you have any interest in getting a crash course in south american politics, military death squads, & the church.