"In Latin America, we learn early that our lives are worth little." - Laura Yusem, 1990.
In the early eighties, while we norteamericanos found our national horror in Flock of Seagulls videos, Argentina endured a different kind of ordeal: an archipelago of concentration camps where thousands of kidnapped suspected leftists, populists and Jews were tortured to death. Margeurite Feitlowitz's A Lexicon of Terror documents the nightmares of which our popular culture has spared us knowledge.
The mysteries of systematic violence, the nature of evil on a national scale, continue to confound the analysis of moral observers. In Argentina, as in Germany, Cambodia, Siberia, and Central Africa, we are denied insight into man's opaque nature and are left only with cold historical fact. As Feitlowitz tells us:
Argentine history is marked by recurring cycles of bloody rule. Historians date the modern military era from 1930, the year of Josť Felix "von" Uburu's violent coup. . . Between 1930 and 1976 there were nine civilian-backed military coups, two other presidents appointed by the army, two blatantly rigged elections, and two terms of highly theoretical, quasi-fascistic, Peronism.
History will take its toll on civilizations, but in cycles of war and peace there occasionally arise moments of such methodical cruelty as to shock the weariest cynic. Such a moment was the ultra-right-wing reign of the First Junta, or "The Gentlemen's Coup." Under the command of Admiral Emilio E. Massera, President Jorge Rafael Videla, and Brigadier General Orlando R. Agosti, the Junta waged the internal Dirty War from 1976 to 1983 which included the use of death camps whose fatality count exceeded twenty-thousand innocent souls. The Gentlemen of the Coup so hated the "subversives" of the left that they unleashed the full power of the Argentine military against them. Prisoners in the secret camps were kept blindfolded twenty-four hours a day for years at a time. They had virtually no chance of being released alive. They were tortured daily, sometimes for twelve hours at a stretch. They were raped and sodomized with electric cattle prods. When the time came to be "transferred," or executed, they were thrown, naked and drugged, from navy planes over the ocean.
A slang emerged from the subculture of the junta. It was an Orwellian double-speak in which the corridor to the torture chambers became the "Avenue of Happiness," a kidnap victim was reduced to a "package" and a mass cremation was a "barbecue." A form of torture in which the prisoner's head was held under water befouled with urine and feces was called a Submarino, or "Submarine," after a traditional Argentine children's treat made from a chocolate bar in warm milk. This argot is called the lexicon of terror by Feitlowitz. It is the code which dehumanizes victims.
The responsibility of every friend of Jinx is to denounce terror wherever it exists. The Gentlemen's Coup, as the Nazis, The Soviets, and the Khmer Rouge, thrived on secrecy. Our ignorance, as we contemplated the metaphysics of pop music and the emerging video medium, protected us from the pain of the Argentine slaughter. It likewise protected the guilty, and left them free to carry out their hideous barbarisms. In so protecting the guilty, we condemned those who truly needed our protection: the innocent men, women and children, thrown into the meat-grinder of the camps. The most powerful weapon against totalitarian regimes is the truth. It is the crude mendacity of any language of tyranny which leaves it vulnerable to logic. The torturers of the world cringe in the light of exposure. Jinx dedicates itself to exposing such criminals, whether governments or private cabals. As long as we oppose inhumanity with humanism, and lies with hard logic, we cannot be stopped.