Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tracking down betrayal

Martin Almada is an attorney in Paraguay. He and his wife were teachers back in the 1970's when Gen. Alfredo Stroessner wielded his brutal hand in the South American country. The Almadas were known for their leftist views and they became a target of the secret police.

One night the state came for them. Mr. Almada was taken away and interrogated, and tortured, for 30 days. The police would call up his wife and let her listen to her husband being beaten on the other end of the line. They sent her Mr. Almada's bloody clothing and even called to tell her that her husband was dead.

A few days later his wife was dead of a heart attack. She had died at the hand of the state after being subjected to psychological torture for days on end.

For years afterward Mr. Almada searched in vain for evidence that his wife had been tortured to death. Twenty years ago he found what he was looking for when he received a phone call from a lady telling him that the documentary proof he had been searching for existed.

The papers existed because Pastor Coronel, the head of Paraguay's secret police, was obsessive compulsive when it came to paperwork. He kept detailed notes on everything he did. The archives were full of detailed accounts of who had been tortured, why they were tortured, how they were tortured and what the victims told their torturers.

During his time in prison, Mr. Almada found out about a plan carried out by various South American dictators in which they agreed to help each other take care of their own dissidents. Today we know this program of disappearances and torture as Operation Condor.

The mind boggles at what governments are capable of doing to their own citizens.

The mind also boggles at how little our government cares when another country turns its guns on its own citizens. We hear endless pronouncements about the supposed evils of Cuba and Venezuela yet our duly elected representatives continue to rain arms and weapons upon brutal dictatorships around the world who gladly do our bidding.

Our government has long lost its moral authority to tell anyone else how to behave. Our leaders long ago replaced their admiration for the rule of law with a love for the law of rule. Our government has kidnapped and tortured foreign nationals without regard to international law. Our government has committed acts of war on foreign soil by murdering foreign nationals with unmanned drones. Our government has continued to kill its own citizens in prison.

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