CRENZEL Emilio Ariel
Inside State Terrorism: Bureaucracies and social attitudes in response to enforced disappearance of persons in Argentina
Journal of Human Rights Practice
Oxford University Press
Lugar: Oxford; Año: 2018 vol. 10 p. 268 - 286
AbstractThis article examines different social attitudes that members of state bureaucracies established with regard to the system of disappearances under the last military dictatorship (1976?1983) in Argentina. Although there have been significant contributions on the role of the state under the dictatorship in terms of transitional justice approaches, only recently have a number of works shown the grey areas of state officials and the cleavages and nuances that cut across the various levels of state bureaucracy. In this framework, applying a sociological analysis, this article examines a number of administrative records produced during the dictatorship by workers of a morgue and of a public hospital, located in the provinces of Córdoba and Buenos Aires. In these records, the workers documented the existence of practices involved in the different stages of the system of disappearances. The article has four parts. The first section provides an overview of the political and historical context of 1970s Argentina. The second section presents a brief review of the literature on the role of the state under the dictatorship. The third section focuses on a letter by a group of morgue workers from the province of Córdoba addressed to dictator General Jorge Videla demanding proper work gear and a rise in pay in consideration of the hazardous nature of the tasks they were ordered to perform in connection with enforced disappearances. The fourth section examines entries made in the incident books of the nursing service of the Posadas Hospital, located in Haedo, a town in the province of Buenos Aires, which provide evidence that some of the hospital workers were forcibly disappeared. The article concludes with a reflection for both academics and practitioners, suggesting the need to rethink state bureaucracies by questioning how they are represented as monolithic machines and re-examining the relationships between civil society and the state and the responsibilities under regimes that commit human rights abuses.