oa African Yearbook of Rhetoric - El papel de la memoria y la retórica de la deshumanización en dos discursos militares

Volume 4, Issue 2_3
  • ISSN : 2220-2188
  • E-ISSN: 2305-7785



This chapter deals with a comparison between State terrorism in Argentina and Mexico in the 1970s-1980s, when a range of crimes were perpetrated by institutions otherwise responsible for law and justice. In Argentina, attempts were made to heal the wounds of the past once the military régime was repudiated by means of elections. What occurred in Mexico is more surreptitious. In this case, the Mexican state presented to the outside political solidarity with Cuba and with the oppositions to Latin American military dictatorships; on the other hand, within the country, it not only ignored protests, but also spurred civil struggle and even guerrilla, by repressing them violently, as was the case with movements led by the country teachers turned guerillas Genaro Vázquez and Lucio Cabañas. I build on ideas about memory offered by Todorov as "it permits one to use the past with a view toward the present, to use the lessons about injustices suffered in the past to fight against those create today, and to separate oneself to go toward the other". I compare the story "Soldado" by Roberto Ramírez Bravo and the speech by general Ramón Camps in an interview with Santiago Aroca, which was used to condemn him for his crimes. Both the literary discourse and the general's speech make use of pejorative adjectives that dehumanize the rebels, calling them, for example, "indios" in the first case or "subversives" in the second. This creates a polarization between victims and perpetrators, and promotes a distancing which enables a range of aggressions that end in the death and/or disappearance of the dissidents. In the story we find irony in the situation that the soldier who confesses his crimes is dead; in this way, this tale symbolizes the Mexican reality, in which repressors and their victims are relegated to oblivion and death, especially now as the Partido Revolucionario Institucional has regained the presidency. At the same time, the lack of restitution for damages inflicted allows for a sense of impunity which has contributed to the current climate of social disintegration.

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