Twenty-five years after the end of the Chilean military dictatorship (1973-1990), the redemocratization process still has not drawn to a close. The persistent tensions in civil-military relations have sparked the concern of national and international human rights organizations and have even begun to occupy a space in the country’s cultural production. In this article, I will focus on El mocito (Marcela Said and Jacques de Certau, 2011). This film tackles Chile’s dictatorial past through the perspective of a civilian who was closely connected to the Armed Forces. It addresses the case of an individual living on the border between worlds often perceived as mutually exclusive. He is a civilian, but he was also a member of the DINA—Chile’s secret police under Pinochet— though not as a member of the Armed Forces, but rather in the role of a butler. Although, as far as the public knows, he never participated in torture or assassinations, through this position, he was aware of what was taking place, bore witness to events related to state repression, and by fulfilling the tasks of his work, in many ways sustained the framework of the authoritarian system. By focusing on an atypical actor who is simultaneously an outsider and an insider in both the Armed Forces and the civil society, the documentary presents a unique perspective on these two groups and their intersections. In so doing, the film poses questions about responsibility for, and complicity with, the cruelty that took place during the military regime and beyond that all members of Chilean society must consider. How far can we extend responsibility for what happened? How do we measure the guilt or innocence of those who did not commit or order the perpetration of crimes, but were nevertheless part of the system that condoned such acts? Can victims exist within the group typically thought of as victimizers? What forms does cruelty take in civil society in non-authoritarian contexts? These queries imply a questioning of the military institution in its present form and challenge both the concept of the citizen shaped within democracy and the possibilities of nunca más/never again in Chile today.
This article was translated into English by Edith J. Adams.
Ros, Ana Laura
"El Mocito: A Study of Cruelty at the Intersection of Chile’s Military and Civil Society,"
Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal:
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