Term Paper: Latin America in Ariel Dorman

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[. . .] After all, he may have had plenty of experience in the past getting information out of his victims, and would be cunning and manipulative enough to make Geraldo believe he is a friend of freedom, justice and democracy. A careful examination of his words also indicates that his real concern is not for the victims of past crimes but to close the door on all this history and forget about it. He makes several statements about how the country should "shut the door on all the divisions and hatreds of the past" and "close an exceptionally painful chapter in our history" (Dorfman 10). These pious platitudes are also very convenient for past torturers, of course, but Paulina is not prepared to let them off so easily and indeed is very likely going to kill him unless Geraldo can persuade her otherwise.

Geraldo is also extremely worried about the serious consequences that will ensue if she kills Roberto, no matter whether he is innocent or guilty. If he is just an innocent Good Samaritan who gave him a ride, then she will be arrested and go to jail for kidnapping and perhaps even murder. Geraldo is not certain that her identification is correct and cautions that "a vague memory of someone's voice is not proof of anything" (Dorfman 18). Very likely he would be making similar remarks to the witnesses who came before his commission, and not only because he was concerned about justice and fairness to the accused. On the other hand, if Roberto is indeed one of the torturers, her action will risk unraveling to accords the new government made with the military (and the U.S.), with the implicit threat that the dictatorship will take over again. Therefore, the decisions she has already made are very dangerous, not only for herself but to the entire country. She is quite cynical about Geraldo aw well and believes he is opportunistic, hoping to become minister of justice someday under the new government. "You be reasonable," she tells Geraldo, "They never did anything to you," and that is the fundamental difference between them (Dorfman 20). His commitment to the Investigating Commission may nothing more than a sham designed to enhance his career, as long as he does not make waves and simply goes along with the system. Geraldo's hidden motives are far more complex than some liberal idealism and commitment to democracy and nonviolence, while Paulina's are more openly personal and political. She not only has a certain feminist discontent at how Geraldo orders her around, but a deep distrust of the type of 'democracy' that he and others like him have established -- one that seems to have very minimal concern for the powerless, the marginalized and victims of past repression. In this sense, Paulina is far more radical and revolutionary than he is, and more inclined to use violent methods to destroy the old order. She strongly dislikes all the compromises that Geraldo has made, and is shrewd enough to realize why he really wanted to be on the Investigating Commission and agreed to it without consulting with her.

In this play, Paulina's position is the more sympathetic one since she has been the real victim of repression and torture, while the decision to reconcile with the forces of the old military regime has been made without consulting her. Geraldo's justifications for this sham investigation often sound opportunistic and hollow, motivated more by self-interest than any real concern for the victims. In any event, he has not been tortured like she has, and seems all too eager to sit down to drinks with someone like Miranda. Paulina is not simply sick or paranoid, but has good reason to suspicious of Roberto, even though her act of private revenge may bring about very damaging consequences to others, especially if the military takes power again. Perhaps her strength of will, cleverness and discernment are exactly what the nation needs most in this transition to democracy, when the criminals are the old regime are trying to conceal their pasts and hoping they will be forgotten. Geraldo is willing to do this, but not Paulina, and perhaps she is even being more realistic on a deeper level in her realization that the general amnesty and bogus investigation will not form the basis for a… [END OF PREVIEW]

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