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Violencia y transiciones políticas a finales del siglo XX

Sophie Baby
Olivier Compagnon
Eduardo González Calleja


Texte intégral

1Sandrine Lefranc

2International consecration of the lesser evil: spread of the «truth and reconciliation commission» model

3Since the first experiments in the Southern Cone of Latin America in the 1980s, culminating in South Africa in 1995 and its echoes in many other countries, truth and reconciliation commissions have become a common ingredient of policies of normalisation following authoritarian repression. They do not owe their success only to the success or persuasive force of the model, especially considering that this was in fact the option of the lesser evil where criminal prosecution was eschewed in those democratic transitions which brought it international acceptance. Another reason for its success is the formation of a network of experts in policies to end political violence, and the chord struck by this model in the countries that direct international policy, in a context characterised by the pursuit of justice policies that are a priori less State-oriented, less formal and increasingly founded on the principle of dialogue and acknowledgement of the victims.

4Anastassios Anastassiadis

5« The people do not forget…»; the State does. The destruction of Greece’s internal security archives — political utility, history and competing memories.

6In August 1989, work began on the destruction of the personal data bases created by the Greek internal security services following the Civil War of 1946-1949, which in principle targeted the political opposition. This destruction, ordered by a centre-right/communist-left coalition government, was presented as an essential step in a policy of national reconciliation and came to symbolise a break with the preceding Socialist government. This article reviews the debates that accompanied this process against the background of the political context of the time, in an attempt to determine what, if anything, the destruction of the archives in revenge for violence suffered in a then distant past had in common with the spontaneous destructions that have taken place in other major political crises, such as the Grande Peur in revolutionary France. The permanent destruction of the archives made it even more difficult to write the history of this period, which was left to the vagaries of conflicting memories. Preventing future historians from investigating this tool of State violence is not the best way to make citizens forget that it ever existed and increases the danger of it happening again.

7Jorge Errandonea

8The place of past violence in the framework of the transition to and consolidation of democracy: a comparative analysis of the cases of Argentina and Uruguay

9Argentina and Uruguay faced the same kind of dilemmas upon restoration of the Rule of Law despite having reverted to democracy in very different circumstances: Argentina embarked on the return to democracy following defeat in the Malvinas (Falklands), while Uruguay did so by way of a twofold electoral process — the referendum of 1980 and the internal party elections in 1982. What was to be done about past violence? How to rebuild a democratic State with this legacy of human rights violations while also assuring governability? The publication of the report entitled Nunca Más [Never Again] traumatised Argentine society; in Uruguay, on the other hand, 15 years passed before these questions were openly and officially aired (by the Peace Commission set up in 2000 by the government of Jorge Batlle). But despite that, in the early 1990s a pragmatic attitude to the ethics of responsibility prevailed, preventing any systematic application of criminal law to the perpetrators of human rights violations. The aim of these policies of impunity was to propitiate national reconciliation and help consolidate democracy. Today, alongside a return to criminal justice, in Argentina and Uruguay we are seeing a series of symbolic actions intended to impact on the collective memory. Archives and museums devoted to memory are being opened, monuments inaugurated and street names changed. All the signs are that a paradigm of the memory of violence is under construction in this part of the Southern Cone.

10Alberto Reig Tapia

11Memory of violence. Transition, consolidation and embitterment of politics in democratic Spain (1975-2004)

12This article examines the different ways in which the subject of past violence is treated in history books and in the collective memory, considering that for some there has been a saturation of historical memory while for others the question has been completely silenced. It looks at the different attitudes adopted towards the subject by successive governments of the PSOE and PP from 1982 to 2004, which have made any institutional consensus impossible. It also considers the contradiction between this division and the wishes of the majority of the population, who according to surveys by the CSI and other opinion-polling institutions would like to see the matter definitively settled. In short, the article highlights the gulf separating the political classes from public opinion.

13Eduardo González Calleja

14Times of transition: subversive violence in the western world during the 1970s.

15Between the late 1970s and the early 1980s the western world saw a wave of subversive violence which was very much influenced by the failure of earlier models of armed action. With the decline of mass revolutionary actions following the convulsions of May 1968, a number of new forms of agitation began to emerge in which protest was organised preferentially around flexibly-structured sectoral movements which were relatively independent of the major political options. In Latin America the strategy of the guerrilla «foco» or nucleus failed abruptly and was revamped as urban guerrilla warfare. This article examines that stage in the transition where the radical political movements that emerged in the West following the crisis of 1968 changed their forms of subversive action, awarding a central and almost exclusive place in their strategies to the «new urban terrorism», an imperfect substitute for the now-impossible revolution (social or national).

16Antonio Elorza

17ETA and other terrorisms

18This article proposes an interpretation whereby both ideology and religion, sometimes as a composite whole, are crucial to an understanding of terrorism inasmuch as they are the central component of its teleological dimension. The fact of stressing this doctrinal dimension by no means implies the adoption of a monistic approach to the phenomenon or adherence to the notion that there is a universal model whereby terrorism can be defined from that angle. The other aspects bearing on the appearance of a terrorist organisation, the way in which it acts and impinges on society, the methods it uses, the sociological and psychological causes triggering an individual’s decision to practise terror, and the historical context, all need to be taken into account and integrated in the analysis.

19Ignacio Sánchez-Cuenca and Paloma Aguilar Fernández

20Violence, mobilisation and repression in the Spanish transition

21This chapter analyses the cycles of political violence, State repression and mass mobilisation during the Spanish transition (1975-1982), combining unpublished data on political violence and participation in demonstrations and strikes. First of all it looks at the theoretical arguments upon which the existing hypotheses are founded. It then goes on to set forth the principal features of the cycle of political violence during the transition. In the third place it describes the evolution of the cycle of mass mobilisation then goes on to show the relationship between the two, in an attempt to determine whether or not the central hypothesis, according to which violence may arise as a consequence of declining mass mobilisation, holds true. As both the violence and the mobilisations during the Spanish transition were highly diverse, the article begins by analysing them in a general way before going on to look in more detail at the different types of violence and mobilisation. This yields more variety of data, thus providing the basis for a more solid empirical analysis of the hypotheses discussed.

22Álvaro Soto Carmona

23Political violence and transition to democracy: Chile and Spain

24There was political violence in both transitions, albeit they differed widely in intensity and kind. In Chile, from the plebiscite (October 1988) until the accession of Patricio Aylwin (March 1990), the dictatorship continued to commit systematic human rights violations, while at the same time a number of armed groups were active (MIR, MAPU-Lautaro and FPMR). When Aylwin acceded to the presidency, there was a drastic fall in human rights violations; however, acts of terrorism continued and only began to decline following the assassination of Senator Jaime Guzmán. From then on the political violence was residual, while some of the «truth» of what had gone on during the dictatorship was aired (Rettig Report). In Spain, terrorist violence was constant, particularly that perpetrated by the group ETA. Cases of State violence were few and targeted ETA above all; however, the State Security Forces had little experience in dissuasive tactics, and that proved to be a handicap when Spanish people attempted to exercise their democratic rights. And finally, unlike in Chile, there was no serious attempt to find out what had gone on during the dictatorship.

25António Costa Pinto

26Authoritarian past and democratic transition in Portugal

27The nature of the Portuguese transition to democracy and the ensuing State crisis produced a «window of opportunity» for a reaction against the past, which was much sharper in Portugal than in the other Southern European transitions. The Portuguese democratic transition spelt a complete break, in a reaction against the authoritarian violence exercised by the Salazar regime through a variety of penalising and criminalising procedures. The dynamic potential of democracy as such was so great that it left its mark on the consolidation of the democracy in Portugal, almost as much as the long dictatorship that preceded it. By cross-referencing the peculiar dynamics of the transition and the various forms of «transitional justice», this chapter analyses the way in which the very nature of the transition may have affected the authoritarian legacy and transformed the regime’s impact on the «quality» of Portuguese democracy. And again it shows that most of the inherited authoritarian elements are more consequences of the nature of the transition than a legacy of the real nature of the dictatorship.

28Rafael Durán Muñoz

29The strength of the State and collective action in regime change. A comparative view of Spain and Portugal

30Just as many Spaniards perceived the process of change to a post-Franco democratic regime as a historic turnaround in view of the abandonment of the essentialist concept of the «eternal Spain», in Portugal neither the country’s history nor its image foreshadowed the course of its transition. The «Captains’revolt» paved the way for the outbreak of popular ire in the form of mass mobilisations in support of demands, in such a confused political context and with provisional governments so unstable that many at the time thought the process of change could have a revolutionary outcome. In Spain there was also a spectacular quantitative increase in industrial action when the process of democratisation got under way, but there was no sharp change in the type of conflict. In Portugal, on the other hand, the reigning socio-economic order was directly challenged starting on 25 April. The perception that population groups have of the possibilities or limitations of mobilisation appears to be a decisive factor in the forms of struggle that are likely to be adopted in the context of a change of political regime. The range of possible collective actions is determined by the perception of the balance of forces between the contending sides, and that can vary with time. In that context the State is of special importance.

31Sophie Baby

32State and violence in the Spanish transition: types of police violence

33The reformists who led the Spanish transition sought to turn the repressive State of the Franco regime into democratic State which guaranteed individual rights and public freedoms. But during the transition the Spanish State faced a twofold challenge: it needed to channel protest movements in order to prevent them from raising insuperable obstacles to democratisation and at the same time it had to face internal violence carried on by the institutions responsible for containing violence and maintaining order (army, police, civil guard, courts), which were reluctant to adapt to their new democratic functions. In this dual struggle, the survival and legitimacy of the democratising process was at stake, as was the quality of the democracy to come. By analysing the forms of violence perpetrated by the forces of the State we can construct a hypothesis regarding the intertwining of three repressive systems in constant interaction with the forces of protest: the two systems, one of which succeeded the another but which also competed during this period (that of the Franco dictatorship and that of the aspiring democratic succession) and a system specifically linked to the fight against terrorism, which drew on the resources of the other two. Thus, if forms of State violence eroded the founding principles of the new regime, this was not only because of the weighty legacy of the previous regime but also because the increasingly frequent attacks of opposition groups seriously endangered the democratic process.

34Maud Chirio

35Passing arms to the right: the violent opposition of young officers to the democratisation process in Brazil

36Between the «opening up» of the dictatorship and the «transition» that followed, Brazil took fourteen years to emerge from the authoritarian system installed in 1964. Brazil’s «democratisation» was largely «granted» by the military, and the first hurdle that it encountered was the resistance of officers many of whom had been involved in the repressive apparatus; this took the form of political agitation, the distribution of manifestoes, and above all attacks on prominent institutions or figures associated with the left. This article draws attention to the representations and the goals of this generation of soldiers, who had been trained up by the dictatorship and did not fit into a democratic system; the channelling of violence by State forces as a repressive practice and as a political practice of the far right; and the consequences of the episode of terrorism for Brazil’s aperture and transition.

37David Garibay

38From civil war to day-to-day violence; the problems of consolidating democracy in Central America

39In the 1980s, Central America was one of the scenarios where in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua the cold war translated into civil wars, military repression and high levels of political violence. In both cases, however the state of war was resolved by means of negotiations which on the one hand brought an end to the armed confrontations, the demobilising of guerrilla forces and the reduction of armies; and on the other hand institutional reforms which enabled all the political actors to take part in elections. The outcome of these processes seems quite clear: from a military and institutional standpoint the three countries today are in a state of peace and respect for political plurality, political assassinations have been limited and peace agreements have generally been accepted and observed. Nonetheless, within a context of stagnant economic growth, levels of «day-to-day» violence have rocketed to the extent that there are more homicides than in the civil war years. The policies implemented by governments and the acceptance by society of ultra-repressive measures entailing the suspension of constitutional guarantees and freedoms show to what extent a high level of «day-to-day» violence can threaten the bases of recently-instituted democracies.

40Cécile Lavrard

41Violence, voting and poverty in Peru (1978-2006)

42In the context of a democratic transition marked by the terrorist violence of Sendero Luminoso, this article examines the connections between that violence, which affected the poorest Andean regions of Peru in particular, and voting. The alleged capacity of the State to curtail terrorist violence lay at the heart of post-transition voting in Peru and served Alberto Fujimori as a pretext to suppress democratic freedoms. After a decade in which party-based democracy had become discredited, he came to power with the support of the poorest voters. In reality, in the Andean regions affected by terrorism and a glaring lack of democracy, State violence was experienced as exclusion from access to wealth. In those regions where terrorism impinged most strongly on the spirit of voters and where the ethnic dimension was coming ever more to the fore, this political violence of poverty determined the vote and with it the future of Peruvian democracy.

43Sophie Daviaud

44The challenges posed by a «partial transition» process: Considerations regarding the Colombian example

45Colombia has experienced a «partial transition» from war to peace and democracy. Despite the persistence of conflict, Colombians have begun to pass judgement on the people responsible for the paramilitary movement and are mobilising all the machinery of «transitional justice», giving birth to a model of «hybrid» commission: the Comisión Nacional de Reparación y Reconciliación [National Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation], set up in 2005. While human rights have been at the centre of political discussions during this process, violations of these rights have persisted into democracy. In addition, the case of Colombia raises the issue of the demobilisation and future of former combatants. The most important challenge is the persistence of armed conflict and the phenomenon of drug trafficking, as the actions of the FARC threaten the security of demobilised paramilitaries while new armed groups are appearing, made up of former paramilitaries in conjunction with groups linked to the drug trade. The State, which ought to look after public security, does not appear to be reacting either quickly or effectively enough. Under what conditions will the country be able to move on from a partial transition to a way out of the violence? Does Colombia run the risk of intensified conflict and a new pattern of war?

© Casa de Velázquez, 2009

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