The Expiry Law: Obstacles for the political transmission of memory in Montevideo #3

Hayman_Uruguay_07.09, originally uploaded by CLACS – NYU.

On June 26 and 27, the anniversary of the 1973 golpe de estado in Uruguay, I was fortunate enough to be invited to a conference held by the Asociación Psicoanalitica Uruguaya (APU). Entitled “Hacer Memoria”, the weekend-long event that included panel discussions and workshops by important Uruguayan memory scholars, historians, writers, and psychoanalysts such as Maren and Marcelo Viñar, Carina Blixen, Victor Guerra, Alvaro Rico and Daniel Gil. The conference opened with a showing of Mateo Gutiérrez’s documentary “D.F.” (Destino Final), which tells the story of his father’s kidnapping and murder in Buenos Aires in 1976 along with Senator Zelmar Michelini and the young Tupamaro couple William Whitelaw and Rosario Barredo (all Uruguayan citizens living in exile). Twenty years later, Madres y Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos held the first annual March of Memory in Montevideo to commemorate the deaths of the four Uruguayans and remember those who disappeared during the dictatorship. Filmmaker and historian Virginia Martinez, whose documentaries Por Esos Ojos and Memorias de Mujeres I greatly admire, helped facilitate the panel discussion afterward.

Although psychoanalysis has no direct connection to my project, the APU conference was designed to facilitate dialogue about memory, subjectivity and literature across different disciplines. I was able to meet several interesting people at the conference, including playwright and scholar Roger Mirza and Marisa Bukasr of “Memoria en Libertad”, a group founded by the children of the disappeared in Montevideo. I hope to speak to them in the coming weeks about their work.
Along with the conference and a number of interviews, the last two weeks have involved a serious re-assessment of my project on the Ley de Caducidad (Expiry Law) in an attempt to take full advantage of my last month in Montevideo. Well into my research, I am forced to recognize my aversion to contacting politicians and members of the Uruguayan armed forces – and more than anything, my aversion to contacting former known torturers — to ask them about their opposition to the annulment of the Ley de Caducidad. I realize that journalistic “objectivity” demands that I seek out adversarial perspectives on the law, but I find it impossible treat this project as a debate between two equally valid points of view, and I also recognize time constraints that will keep me from fully absorbing the 20 year’s worth of literature written on the topic. I’ve finally decided to reject the idea of seeking out former oppressors for a wide variety of reasons, both personal and professional, but have made up a list of politicians and civilians opposed to annulling the Ley de Caducidad whose perspectives I hope will inform and enhance my journalistic project. As far as my Master’s thesis for CLACS is concerned, I am now concentrating on a single phenomenon, which is the conversion of the Penal de Punta Carretas into a shopping center in 1994. I expect to mention the referendum on the Ley de Caducidad in this project, but only as part of the greater debate on memory in Uruguay.

Mari Hayman
MA Candidate, CLACS

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