Monday, 26 January 2015

Latin American connections with the Holocaust

Tomorrow we commemorate 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz.

Utero.pe has a fascinating article on the Peruvian victims of Auschwitz - I confess, I had no idea there were any. But apparently, there were 17 of them. Like Héctor David Levy, shot for asking for water during forced labour, and his wife and two young children, who were gassed. The two children became Peru's youngest victims of the Second World War.

Victoria Barouh Avayü was the only Peruvian Auschwitz survivor, having lost her entire family. Many years later, she went back to the concentration camp to see what had become of it and of fellow survivors.

More information about Peruvians in the camps may be found in the book Estación final by Hugo Coya (Aguilar, 2013).

Los peruanos de Auschwitz, por Hugo Coya (Utero.pe)

Semana discusses the Auschwitz survivors who came to Colombia: Ana Orgel de Czeizler, Raquel Gedalovich, Jacobo Bron and Max Kirschberg. The article is worth reading and illustrated with beautiful photos by Erika Diettes.

"Most people have heard about what happened. But it wasn't just the Jews who suffered. There were non-Jewish Germans there, because they didn't accept the ideology, or because they argued about something, they ended up there. They took people from other faiths, Jehovah's Witnesses, Catholics, and many gypsies", says Kirschberg. When the camp was liberated, Kirschberg had lost his parents, but he recalled that his mother had told him he had an uncle living in Colombia, so he came there. In 1952, he returned to Germany to study, marry and have children, but in 1976 he returned for good with one of his sons.

More information about Colombian survivors may be found in the book Sobrevivientes del Holocausto que rehicieron su vida en Colombia, edited by Hilda Demner and Estela Goldstein

Los sobrevivientes de Auschwitz que hicieron vida en Colombia (Semana)

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Peru: Retablos by Edilberto Jiménez



At the Biblioteca Virtual del Genocidio en Ayacucho, you can now see photographs of the amazing retablo scenes made by Edilberto Jiménez (who I previously wrote about here and here) from his book "Universos de memoria".They really are amazing depictions of the violence in the Ayacuchan region of Peru.

Follow this link to get the list of images and then click on "Detalles" to get to a large image.

Guatemala: A forensic anthropologist who brings closure for the "disappeared"


Thanks to Mike from Central American Politics for drawing my attention to this TED talk by Fredy Peccerelli on his work as a forensic anthropologist in Guatemala, which is so relevant to this blog that I'm reposting it here. I can only echo his admiration for the work of these incredible, dedicated people.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Argentina: Human rights achievements of 2014

Infojus Noticias provides us with a look back at Argentina's year in human rights, so here's a translation of the main points.

Found grandchildren:
The recovery of the identity of Ignacio Guido Montoya Carlotto on August 5 was the biggest media event of the year, but he was not the first grandchild to be found. On February 6, a young woman was confirmed as the daughter of Oscar Rómulo Gutiérrez and Liliana Isabel Acuña. Later, the forensic anthropology team found the remains of three pregnant woman who had been murdered before giving birth. In August, Ana Libertad Baratti de la Cuadra was found, and at the end of the this year grandchild number 116, the child of Ana Rubel and Hugo Castro, regained his true identity.

Trials for appropriations:
There were four trials linked to found grandchildren. On September 9, the appropriators (i.e. the illegal adopters) of Pablo Gaona Miranda (found grandchild no. 106), plus the person accused of handing over the child to them, were sentenced to between six and eight years in jail. Medical personnel linked to the births of disappeared children and the falsification of their documentations also received prison sentences.

Trials for state terrorism:
14 trials relating to clandestine detention centres drew to a close. In October, the trial over crimes in La Cacha concluded. Six human rights abusers were convicted of the murder of Osvaldo Tordo Sigfrido de Benedetti, six more for the Metán case, and ten for crimes in Rosario. 

The number of perpetrators convicted since the return to democracy is, therefore, 559.

Ongoing trials
There are currently 17 oral trials ongoing, 11 of which started this year. In these, 279 people are accused of over 2,220 crimes. These include the mega-trials for the detention centres of La Perla and ESMA, people accused of crimes under Plan Condor, and of the systematic stealing of babies.

Legal investigations
62 new legal investigations were initiated up to October.

Fugitives
49 alleged human rights abusers are currently on the run; this is down from 73 at the end of last year. Three were caught in early December.

Identifications
Finally, the EAAF managed to identify ten disappeared people this year, in addition to the three pregnant woman mentioned above. This brings the total it has identified in Argentina to 651.

2014: 4 nietos, 17 juicios en marcha y otros 40 represores condenados (Infojus Noticias)

Most-read posts of 2014

2014 is drawing to a close and it's been a mixed one for the blog, with life getting in the way quite frequently. Nevertheless, there have been a few highlights in Latin America and in my posts. There's no question about the stand-out LatAm event of the year for me: it was Estela de Carlotto of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo discovering her own grandchild in August. A truly amazing moment, the kind that you didn't dare think would happen. There was a massive outpouring of emotion from Argentina, and indeed the world, in response.

These are my top five posts of the year:

"Escrache" is word of the year for Fundéu BBVA - 1 January

Book review: Carmen Castillo's Un día de octubre en Santiago - 8 March

Argentina: Grandmothers' president finds her grandson - 6 August


Peru: Exhibition of victims' clothing - 10 September

Response to "Memory is not history"- 15 September

Monday, 15 December 2014

Uruguay: Update on Graf Spee eagle

Despite being a bit of a detour from the main focus of this blog, my 2010 post on the eagle of the Graf Spee pocket battleship is one of the most-read posts I've written.

We're over four years on and not much progress has been made. Now the BBC asks "What should Uruguay do with its Nazi eagle?".

The country's supreme court has ruled that the Uruguayan state is the owner of the artifact, but that the salvage company should also receive half of the profits in the event of a sale. Businessman Alfredo Etchegaray, one of the men who led the operation to recover the eagle, told the BBC that the eagle could be worth up to US$ 15 million."Having the eagle in a box doesn't benefit anybody," he said.

There has been reporting that the eagle is not appropriately stored, but Uruguay denies this.

I'm tempted to agree with Etchegaray that the country could make good use of the cash and possibly display a replica of the eagle instead of the real thing. It's an amazing historical piece and while I certainly understand the concerns of the German government, I think it should be on display somewhere. I was just listening to a piece on the radio this morning about the difficulties of knowing what to do with the house where Hitler was born, in Austria. These are always thorny issues because the last thing you want is a shrine for neo-Nazis, but letting the sites/objects rot hardly seems to be the solution either.


What should Uruguay do with its Nazi eagle? (BBC)

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Brief update on Brazilian truth commission report

Obviously there's been a lot of reporting on Brazil's truth commission, happily Colin from Americas North and South has saved me the job of doing a massive round-up by providing an excellent one here.

I would just add this post by Nina Schneider at Transitional Justice in Brazil on the report ceremony itself.

Also, the report itself can be accessed here (Portuguese).