viernes, 19 de abril de 2013

The chilling case of the silver prosecutor

The chilling case of the silver prosecutor

Once upon a time in a vast and empty country the people celebrated the death of the dictator who had kept them poor and ignorant for 39 long years and who had murdered many thousands of their fathers and brothers and sisters during and after the bloody struggle that had brought him to power. With the dictator gone, the people could finally have the democracy their much wealthier neighbouring countries had been enjoying for a good few decades. But there was a tiny problem. The late dictator’s many friends and aides and other people who had profited from the steep inequalities that dictatorships often bring, not to forget those who in their younger years had personally helped murder and betray their fellow countrymen - all these people who were accomplices in the great crime against the public, in exchange for handing over power to democratically elected institutions they now demanded their sins would be forgotten. As they saw no other way to obtain their long-desired democracy the people reluctantly accepted, and so the law was decreed that never, ever any person were allowed to ask difficult questions about the past. The past did not exist in this vast and empty country where the sun shone most of the days.

Prosperity came to the land and the poor masses started to enjoy a reasonable standard of living. Even when an old collaborator of the dictator founded a political party and this party for mind boggling reasons was elected to power, democracy was not immediately annihilated. It was merely insulted and hindered and after eight long years things went back to normal again. The country by now had become a fun place to live in and its people one of the happiest on the continent. But there still was the unresolved problem of the untold past. The generation which had lost so many loved ones in their youth was getting old now, and it did not want to leave this world without at least having searched the truth about their fathers and brothers and sisters who would never return. Where were they buried, how were they killed and what were the names of their assassins? With the last witnesses to the great crime on the threshold of afterlife, all these forbidden questions suddenly needed to be asked.

The people got help from a public prosecutor, a famous man with a lot of silver hair and slightly overweight who felt that after thirty years the ban on questions should be lifted because an honest people could only live democratically once they had fully understood and redeemed their past errors. The heritage party, the party which was founded by the dictator’s old friend and whose members held many important positions throughout society, vehemently opposed the idea. Through their friends inside the judicial system they did everything in their powers to obstruct the prosecutor’s work. The friends, eager to show their loyalty, started legal proceedings against the silver one for forbidden inquiries into the non-existing past and this meant his work came all but to a halt.

The silver prosecutor, not a man to be easily discouraged, at the same time began investigating the workings of the heritage party, hoping to learn more about how their many high placed members operated to keep democracy from functioning properly. And then, what luck, the prosecutor hit upon a secret scheme of redistributing taxpayers’ money to party members through the age old trick of overpricing government projects. In this particular case, a management bureau which helped stage public events had developed the habit of showering its dear heritage friends with costly presents, varying from tailor-made suits and handbags to holidays and fists full of money. Nothing particularly big, but definitely widespread and all too common. The silver prosecutor saw a golden chance to get even while at the same time serving up his countrymen some truth of the matter.

The prosecutor concentrated his efforts on the governor of an utterly corrupted coastal region, a man extraordinarily popular with all the good civilians who had happily profited from the ruthless exploitation of nature reserves and coastlines allowed under his watch. The silver prosecutor asked the judges of the court from where he was prosecuting if he were allowed to record telephone calls and other conversations the suspect and his circle had. At least one judge accepted the prosecutor’s plea for information gathering, and so it didn’t take long before the amazingly popular governor and his closest collaborators were brought before court, treating the public of the vast and empty country to an ample collection of scandalous and self-incriminating dialogues between best friends sympathising with each other’s need for luxury and excess. The improbably popular governor would soon be sentenced and a large section of his utterly corrupted entourage would fall down with him, the general feeling was. But this sentiment didn’t count with the popular jury appointed to have the final word. When the month long soap opera of all the governor’s close friends’ confessions came to a conclusion, the jury happily announced it had not been able to find any evidence of the facts the whole country had heard pronounce on their radios and TV-sets.

The improperly popular governor came free, his career stalled for the moment, but offering party members the opportunity to hail the honest judicial proceedings and as a result the providential innocence of not just their dear friend from the coast but of the heritage movement as a whole. The message read loud and clear to all knowledgeable ears: nobody dare mess with the heritage party and its majority approved intent to sweep the country back into a good old day feeling, chosen to distract the people from the end game realities which were saturating the economy and general history. The Matrix thought we might like the eighties, but in the vast and empty country the nineteen fifties were proposed as everybody’s favourite nightmare.

And then the lawyers of the absolved politicians claimed the silver prosecutor had deliberately violated their professional discretion with his recordings and that he needed to be expelled from office for life; and the judges did not even bother to rewrite a few lines when they accepted this wild and unfounded accusation and sent off the silver justice fighter with the requested ban. To add insult to injury, they then laid down the case of the forbidden inquiries into non-existing war crimes. With the silver one out of office, they could easily pretend to be as honourable as the law supposed them to be. A distasteful joke after a disgrace of a process.

With the prosecutor gone and the perpetrators celebrating their unlawful impunity, one question remains. Home much of this was planned and in how far did an honest (though not less devastating) self-righteousness weigh into the decision? Como Dios manda, the newly elected president had answered when asked how he would govern. The chilling lack of reason in that statement is indeed sweeping the country at the moment. Everywhere the ruling class are picking up old practices again, pressured by tightening circumstances no less, but with an insulting speed and profoundness as if the long stretch of democrat improvements has to be fully erased from the public’s mind. We are straight back into the mythical heartland of old where life went according to plan, however irresponsible the plan may be. Every person clad with authority these days seems to hail their powers of judgement from God, not from reason or established practice. Como mande dios. The results are not exactly encouraging.

Back to the fifties it is indeed, or way further if need be, with the economy being destroyed by ongoing bank bailouts and inflated debts for the public, and the strong arm of the law disturbingly well-prepared for detaining any kind of uprising, from early signs in individuals to large and bullish congregations. The country which had happily lived through 35 years of steady improvement with new roles for men and women and a pleasant equality in everyday life, all things enjoyed and cherished by the vast majority, now is brutally subjected to the old arbitrary rule. It’s horrifying to witness how fast such sea changes can take place.

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