The World Today for January 12, 2022


Justice Delayed But Not Daunted


The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, a Costa Rica-based panel affiliated with the Organization of American States, recently rendered guilty verdicts against two past rightwing governments in Latin America and one from the left.

The court found that the Argentine military dictatorship of the late 1970s had “disappeared” a couple and illegally taken their two children and directed the present government to find their bodies and make reparations to their kids, the Associated Press reported. The judges also ruled that Guatemalan troops had massacred at least 38 people in the village of Los Josefinos in 1982 and directed Guatemala to pay reparations and hasten investigations into the violence. Lastly, they found that ex-President Rafael Correa of Ecuador violated the freedom of expression when he prosecuted a journalist and newspaper executives for “defaming” him and suggested their convictions be annulled.

As MercoPress explained, Mario Roger Julien Cáceres and Victoria Lucía Grisonas Andrijauskaite were Uruguayan citizens and members of the leftwing Party for the Victory of the People who fled to Argentina to avoid the persecution of dissidents at home. Argentine officials abducted them and their two children in 1976 as part of Operation Condor, which the Guardian described as a US-backed campaign to crack down on communism in South America during the Cold War.

A Chilean couple adopted the children after they were found on the streets in the Chilean city of Valparaíso in 1977. The little boy was five years old. The little girl was two.

Guatemalan troops killed men, women and children in Los Josefinos in a campaign to eliminate support for leftists in the Central American country, dumping their bodies in a common grave. Nobody looked into the incident until 14 years later. Now, villagers who escaped that fate hope the court decision will help them achieve not only justice but closure.

“The Josefinos case is one of the many crimes against humanity committed by the army of Guatemala that (continues to go) unpunished,” the victims’ representative Carlos Navarijo told the Center for Justice and International Law. “As Guatemalan citizens, we do not want impunity to be the norm.”

In 2011, journalist Emilio Palacio published a critical column in El Universo that described former Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa as a dictator. The president was insulted, sued Palacio and his employer and won. Palacio and three executives at the newspaper were sentenced to three years in jail and fined $40 million, the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote. Correa, a leftwing leader who held office from 2007 to 2017, was sentenced to eight years in prison by an Ecuadorian judge in 2020, but fled to Belgium rather than face the music, noted Reuters.

Correa’s politics aside, the decisions by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights could indicate that there is increasing momentum behind the emergence of a new generation of leftist leaders in the region following the ebbing of the “pink tide” of the late 1990s and 2000s, as Al Jazeera reported.

Or they could prove how, eventually, justice comes calling.

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