with Memoria y Justicia
December 12, 2002
will never be statutes of limitation for Bin Laden
2002 when I had to argue in court one day, a thought occurred
to me and I shared it with the judges. We were discussing
whether or not to close a case and apply statutes of limitation.
There in Court this thought occurred to me, that I felt
encapsulated in its full dimensions the dramas that are
not resolved on the short-term, remaining open for a long
I said was this: "Your Honor, another anniversary of September
11, 1973 was recently commemorated in Chile. There are many
parallels with the September 11 of 2001, but the most important
is the conduct of these two nations. I imagine - and in
this I will be futuristic - that in the year 2051 when another
generation exists, the United States will continue to look
for the authors of the terrorist attack to bring them to
justice and punish them. I do not think I am mistaken if
I say that no one in the United States will claim statutes
of limitation prohibit prosecution due to the passage of
time or that those actions are best forgotten. It seems
to me that the same thing should happen here.
moved me when I said this and I felt that it impacted the
judges. The United States will never forget Bin Laden until
he is brought before a court, tried and sanctioned. They
will never forget what he did. Not long ago Maurice Papon
[Aged French Minister who collaborated with the Nazis by
condemning 1600 Jews to death] was accused in court. The
world gives us many different perspectives from which to
view the issue differently than in Chile, where it is seen
as an issue of the past.
many people talk about memory as if it pertains to the past
which is gone and over with. However, I am enmeshed in memory
all day long. Unlike other people, time has not passed.
And that is how it is for relatives of human rights victims.
judges the actions of the present
like to point out two examples that illustrate how memory
is present in judging the actions of the present. One is
the issue of "zero tolerance." There is "zero tolerance"
for petty crimes such as urinating on the street or writing
graffiti on the wall. But how can we enforce "zero tolerance"
when we have been incapable of resolving the big crimes
of the military dictatorship? The other example is the day
after pill. Where were these defenders of life yesterday
and what were they doing when their fellow citizens were
Chilean people have a memory that is not expressed every
day but emerges when it needs to emerge. Our political transition
has been different from that of other countries. We have
had open trials where memory is reproduced. Moreover, Chileans
can be proud of another thing. Thirty years after the military
coup, we still remember our dead and our disappeared. This
does not happen in neighbor countries. And that speaks well
to "Reclaiming Memory"