Saturday, January 19, 2002
In 1976, Jorge Videla assumed power in Argentina after overthrowing Isabel PerÃ³n, ushering in one of the bloodiest dictatorships that country had ever experienced. More than 15,000 leftists, human rights activists and other innocent civilians were killed or disappeared. Not a single European democracy was without its share of Argentinean refugees, as well as refugees from Chile, Uruguay and Guatemala, who brought with them their ways of life, their songs, and their vigour and spontaneity. The impact on left-wing European culture was tremendous. The word "dictatorship" at the time immediately evoked Latin America, an image reinforced by Marquez's Autumn of the Patriarch and a prolific body of Latin American literature that also directly influenced the "autocracy literature" that began to appear in the Arab world in the 1980s and 1990s.