Conversations about Impunity

  • Susana Kaiser
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Oral History book series


We have discussed the fragmented knowledge that young people have of the past and have linked this to the legacy of fear and silences. This chapter is about impunity. It explores the cultural scenario of the lack of accountability in a society where hundreds of represores were benefiting from impunity laws.1 It discusses young people’s feelings of impotence and anger at the absence of justice. It examines patterns revealing a major and lasting distortion of ethical and public values, what I describe as the “normalization” or “naturalization” of living with major human rights abusers, who circulate in public places, appear on television talk shows, become politicians who run for and hold office, or are licensed to parent the children they seized after torturing and disappearing their biological parents. In parallel to participants’ comments on the legal aspects of impunity, I look at how they experience living in a society where these killers and torturers live normal lives, and at how they react to their presence.


Young People Police Officer Free Speech Adoptive Parent Biological Family 
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  1. 4.
    For presence of represores in television programs, see Claudia Feld, “El relato del horror en la televisión: los represores denen la palabra,” in La Cultura en la Argentina de fin de siglo, ensayos sobre la dimensión cultural ed. Mario Margulis and Marcelo Urresti (Buenos Aires: UBA, 1997), 339–345;Google Scholar
  2. Marguerite Feitlowitz, A Lexicon of Terror (New York: Oxford, 1998), 193–256.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    Tina Rosenberg, Children of Cain: Violence and the Violent in Latin America (New York: Morrow, 1991), 89.Google Scholar
  4. 10.
    For a detailed account of the stealing of babies, and the ongoing struggles of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo to recuperate them, see Rita Arditti, Searching for Life (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1999).Google Scholar

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© Susana Kaiser 2005

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  • Susana Kaiser

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