Friday, June 29, 2012

Oh Susana!

In the event that you still thought that New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez had a shot at being the GOP candidate for VP, her reaction to yesterday's ACA ruling by the Supreme Court should make you think again.  Here's some of what she said:

“You know, what I think is important is that we provide a system that is available to those that are most in need, making sure that we are not forcing families to buy something that they can’t afford. But, by the same token, I think there are parts of it, for example, you know being allowed to have your child, until they are 26, insure them. They are going to college, etc., I think that’s a good thing. I think the pre-existing conditions, you know, we want to make sure that we’re taking care of people. So, I want to make sure that, is it in its entirety, or are there parts of it that we can keep, to make sure that we’re taking care of that very needy population.”

You can read and see more here.

I guess Team Romney will be looking elsewhere for help with women and Latinos.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Vlado and the Problem of Truth in Brazil

Vladimir Herzog would have turned 75 years of age today.  If his name isn’t familiar to you, you’re not alone.  Vlado, as friends and colleagues in Brazil knew him, was a journalist, writer, playwright and television personality.  He was also an opponent of the military dictatorship that had ruled Brazil since 1964.  By all accounts erudite and charming, the Croatian-born Herzog seemed to run afoul of his country’s rulers by raising questions about human rights under the regime. 

Vladimir Herzog
In the fall of 1975, Vlado was summoned to the offices of the Brazilian DOI-CODI, the country’s feared military intelligence service, to answer charges that he was a collaborator of the Brazilian Communist Party.  Vlado entered the DOI-CODI’s office on October 25th of that year and after a few hours was found hanging in his cell.  The Brazilian security apparatus declared the death a suicide but Vlado’s wife, family and friends knew better. The picture of Vlado’s lifeless body became the most recognizable image of the brutality of a regime that seemed to escape the scrutiny of neighboring regimes in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay.

Vladimir Herzog's body hanging in a prison cell of the DOI-CODI, October 25, 1975
During the post-dictatorship democratic transition in Brazil the unresolved death of Vlado seemed to slip from the popular consciousness.  His wife establish the InstitutoVladimir Herzog to keep alive the memory of her husband and to raise awareness of human rights issues in Brazil.  But it was only last month, after the news that the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) had opened an investigation of Vlado’s death, that the government of President Dilma Rousseff (herself a victim of the dictatorship’s brutality) decided to finally establish a truth commission to confront the dictatorship’s legacy of abuse and violence.  According to Rousseff,

“Brazil deserves the truth, new generations deserve the truth, and - above all - those who lost friends and relatives and who continue to suffer as if they were dying again each day deserve the truth."

Yet, apparently when it comes to investigating the history of the dictatorship, the truth does not include resolving the death of Vlado Herzog.  Just last week, citing the country's Amnesty Law of 1979 and a 1997 settlement paid by Brazil to Vlado's family, the Brazilian government informed the IACHR that it would not reopen its investigation of Vlado's death.  

One cannot help but wonder what Vlado's would have said about the failure to thoroughly investigate the circumstance surrounding his death; although I suspect that this pearl of wisdom from Herzog should answer that question:

"Quando perdemos a capacidade de nos indignarmos com as atrocidades praticadas contra outros, perdemos também o direito de nos considerarmos seres humanos civilizados".

"When we lose the capacity to become indignant at the atrocities committed against others, we also lose the right the consider ourselves civilized human beings."

Here is hoping that there are enough Brazilians indignant about the death of Vlado to force their government to finally and publicly investigate his death.  I can't think of a better birthday present.