Friday, July 31, 2009

An Update on the Common Grave in Paraguay

At the beginning of this week, I mentioned that Paraguayan officials discovered a common grave that contained at least two bodies of suspected victims of the Stroessner regime's dictatorship at a police barracks. The bodies have been exhumed, and while they are only two (perhaps three) bodies, they are of major importance for a few reasons.

Firstly, as the head of a local NGO put it, "Until yesterday, the 'Stronistas' (as Stroessner's followers are referred to here) said there were no victims of forced disappearance, that it was all just our lies," and this is true. Allegations of disappearances are hard to prove without concrete physical evidence of the murders of individuals; this common grave provides physical proof of extrajudicial killings during the Stroessner regime.

It also adds physical evidence in the case against Augusto Montanaro, the minister charged with human rights violations for his role in ordering the repression of dissidents during the Stroessner regime. Finally, the discovery will allow at least two Paraguayan families to learn what happened to their loved ones who disappeared and were never seen again, offering closure to those families and the hope for others that perhaps they, too, will one day gain closure.