La guerrilla recurrente (Spanish Edition)
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The question is purely academic because whatever the answer, there are no police who would investigate the whereabouts of the young man, no attorney who would follow up on the accusations, no court that would try the perpetrators. He is mentally challenged and never grasps what is going on around him. Occasionally a third-person narrator intervenes to focalize specific characters through other characters, thus maintaining the constantly subjective perspective on the events.
This technique makes it impossible to construe a counter-narrative that draws for legitimation on the contestation of the dominant narrative or on the authenticity of the speaker. Instead, it challenges readers to critically engage with different voices and perspectives and piece together their own, autonomous vision of the events. Mendoza problematizes the framework of reference through which society understands guerrillero subjectivity.
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No-one in the novel understands the guerrillero character, el Chato. To convey this, Mendoza focalizes El Chato almost always through other characters, mostly David or el Cholo. Both are fond of him, but neither of them understands or sympathizes with his outrage against injustice. The passage which introduces el Chato is exemplary. He joins the guerrilla after much study and deliberation, is unusually intelligent and thoughtful, and has the musical and literary tastes of a cosmopolitan bourgeois.
Everyone is puzzled, but no-one responds by questioning their framework of reference, which clearly fails before reality. Most people instead choose to disengage by interpreting el Chato as an exceptional and inexplicable individual. Such disengagement is the more benevolent response to the guerilleros. Those who have a stake in the system react more aggressively.
Only after being repeatedly beaten and arrested does Gregorio notice that his framework of reference does not correspond to his experience of reality. El Cholo asks his friend to reconsider his choices and leave the guerrilla while he still can.
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He tries to convince el Chato not to risk his life for a struggle that can only be futile because people want wealth, not justice. This reiterates and entrenches the paradigm that marginalizes and disarticulates motivations like those of el Chato, and that creates emotional and political distance between the two friends. While he is still alive, the siblings hardly speak because male privilege and gendered behavior get in the way. While the siblings share the sense that something is wrong with the system, they are separated by the targets of their outrage.
Conversely, Comandante Fonseca is a gender iconoclast, whereas el Chato is deeply conventional when it comes to his sister. Comandante Fonseca uses gender-bending to slip into the invisible existence beyond hegemonic perceptions. His favorite disguise is to dress up as a woman, and his astute perception of the phenomenology of gendered behavior lets him replicate it to the extent that he becomes unrecognizable even to his closest friends.
El Chato, in contrast, is caught up in the hegemonic perception of women, which he so effectively appropriates for his protection. Halfway through the novel, David finds the tortured body of his cousin in the sea. His commitment to justice and change set a counterpoint to the confusion and impotence of his family, to the callousness and corruption of government agents, and to the cynicism and the brutality of the para-police forces. After his death, only the drug dealer el Cholo—for reasons of machista honor and emotional attachment rather than ethics—defends the victims of repression and injustice, and puts himself and his drug money between the Palafox Valenzuela and the secret agents of repression, the parapolice group Los dragones.
His hatred of el Chato, who outwits him on several occasions, becomes a personal obsession so powerful that he develops a stomach ulcer. This particular element of dirty war strategies was for a long time considered to be first used by the military dictatorship in Argentina However, there have always been persistent rumours that helicopters and planes had been used in Mexico to dump the bodies of victims of enforced disappearance into the ocean.
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Like Montemayor, Mendoza deploys symbolism to render tangible this intangible state of affairs; and like Montemayor, he chooses the symbol of a permit. The episode can be taken as an allusion to the assassination of Jaramillo and his family. Testimonies link its commanders and members to systematic torture and to several enforced disappearances. Several details in the novel evoke facts that are known about the Brigada Blanca, for example the existence of a secret subterranean prison and torture center, and the peculiar status of the group outside the law and official hierarchies but inside the center of power.
Beyond Innocence: Mexican Guerilla Groups assassins arrived at the house and tried to take him away, his stepdaughter Raquel insisted that they could not enter the house or take her parents and brothers without a court order. However, individual family members respond in radically different ways.
Gregorio accepts right away that he lives in a state of exception. His reaction to this insight is destructive of himself and of his relationship to others, especially his children. We have already seen this with regards to his son; and Gregorio also pushes away his daughter. Impunity and silence are for him the only adequate response to torture, assassination and dis-empowerment. Moreover, he is unable to receive the solidarity of the protesting students, which to him is the same as the violence of the police.
Eventually he withdraws into clinical depression.
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She responds by changing her attitude and claiming agency. She renounces the patriarchal political culture espoused by her father, where one keeps safe by shutting up, burying the evidence, and looking to authority figures for solutions. Instead, she espouses a political culture of autonomous critique and resistance, where she—not the government—decides on the criteria for innocence and guilt. She replaces the authority of the judicial institution with the authority of an ethics of the public sphere, and decides that she does not want to become a lawyer, but a journalist in order to critique the system instead of participating in it.
From this moment onwards, her internal monologues become less frequent and she starts to communicate meaningfully with other characters, thus contributing to the emergence of a critical, informed and mobilized, anti-patriarchal civil society which, as becomes clear at the end of the novel, will eventually have to fight two agents of exceptionality: the government and the drug cartels.
Glockner draws on allusion for veracity. The attention of the reader is thus directed away from the private and privatized narration experience of pain, and towards the social, cultural and political context within which the story is embedded. And yet, his sons make a sustained effort to understand him. The image that emerges from this attempt is that of a thoughtful and quietly defiant man. Like el Chato, he opts for armed struggle only after much deliberation and anger at injustice.
This puts him into an impossible situation because circumstances forbid him to bring together his role as father and husband with his sense of self as a politically engaged and committed individual. He defies social conventions first by leaving his family and following the call of his political commitment.
He spent several years in clandestinity, and was then arrested and jailed. During his time in clandestinity he started a relationship with a fellow guerrillera, Nora Rivera. After both were released from jail, they lived together in Mexico City. Nora Rivera was kidnapped and killed; her body was left in the car in which she had been taken.
The FLN holds the paramilitary group Brigada blanca responsible for the assassination. The police maintains that the FLN killed both in an act of revenge because after being tortured, they had collaborated with the police Castellanos After his release from prison and in his role as a father, he defies taboos.
In this last instance he tries to bring together his feelings for his son and those for his lover by offering Federico the opportunity to live with them; but Federico refuses and, shortly after, his father is shot dead in the street and Dora is also killed. The significance of the watch is highlighted by the atemporal quality of the narrative throughout the novel. La ropa, las fotos, los informes, indagaciones, detalles, la hora, la forma, los hechos, el tiempo pero el reloj no. This is the situation Federico then conveys to his younger brother, until David starts to claim a story.
Federico responds with a narrative that gradually punctures the atemporality of silence. However, the effectiveness of his narrative is confined to the intimate space of the family, unless readers respond to it from their own loci of enunciation. For all those characters who reclaim civic agency when faced with a terrorist government, the statement turns into a question: would I want to be innocent on the terms of a terrorist government? This negation constitutes the ethical kit that holds together the diverse actors. The narrator of Guerra does not share in the collective identity of the population in the mountains of Guerrero, but he renounces authorial privilege for the sake of committed writing and invites the reader to renounce reading as an exercise of privilege and instead, explore the possibilities of reading as a practice of solidarity.
Turning the move beyond innocence into an act of collective change—as distinct from individual and isolated rebellion—requires a shared language, shared knowledge, and shared memories. Mendoza, Montemayor and Glockner draw on literature to find words, stories, and symbols for what does not officially exist. They connect armed struggle with the experience of those who shared the ethical urgency, but not the strategy of the guerrillas, and establish equality between different modes of resistance.
The emergent potentiality is that of a network or coalition between different actors who share sensitivities and possibilities that inform all three novels: a re-thinking of masculinities and femininities and of gender relations and gender roles; a greater openness towards rethinking conventions of love, sexuality, and articulations of emotional attachments; a pluralization of our understanding of collectivity and subjectivity through the lens of shared commitments; a stylistic sensitivity for different forms of expression by different voices, from different perspectives, and through different registers of language; and a mindful approach to different kinds of silence and of speech.
The analysis presented here can only be a starting point for further work on different aspects of guerrilla literature in Mexico. An analytical inquiry into, for example, why the authors and the guerrilla protagonists of most fictional texts tend to be men, while especially in recent years women have published a significant number of testimonial texts, would be interesting. La fuga de un guerrillero is also going to press. Works Cited Aguayo Quezada, Sergio. Alonzo Padilla, Arturo Luis. Guerrero bronco: Campesinos, ciudadanos y guerrilleros en la Costa Grande.
Beverley, John. Castellanos, Laura. Proceso , Published 26th February Foley, Barbara. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, Fuentes, Carlos. Gibler, John. Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt. San Francisco: City Lights, La fuga de un guerrillero. Glockner, Fritz.
Veinte de Cobre: Memoria de la clandestinidad. Memoria roja. Balance de los derechos humanos en el 'sexenio de cambio'. Hodges, Donald and Ross Gandy.
Montemayor, Carlos (1947-)
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