martes, 1 de septiembre de 2009

Bringing Chaos out of Order, Latin American Style

Montaner's proposal for bringing order to arbitrary facts suffers from pundit/academic dissociation. His purpose is to show how Latin American societies can change their collective attitude towards the law from one based on revenge to one based on justice and truth. In the end, his proposal simply makes the traditional attitude seem all that more set in stone.

Author reviews several cases pending against former rulers for corruption. He says,

Few Latin American countries are exempt from these judicial vendettas. The victor attempts to liquidate the vanquished. In those nations, the law is not an instrument to regulate civilized coexistence but a mace to crush the adversary’s head.

Which is quite true.

Benito Juárez (Mexico’s first Indian president, mid-19th century) put it best, after the ten-year civil war and insurgency against conservatives and monarchists: “For my friends, clemency; for my enemies, the law.

Montener can have these insights and yet they do not interfere with his policy proposals, which completely contradict the insights themselves.

The author’s suggestion for a remedy is to revisit a Spanish colonial practice, called “judgments of residence.” These are,
For 50 days, any citizen who was convinced that he had been the victim of an injustice or abuse by a judge or official could sue him before a tribunal created especially for that purpose, as soon as the official completed his mandate.
Instead of a remedy, however, they would become just another example of the evil that the author describes: the law as a club with which to beat one’s enemies and not as what we consider “justice,” or finding the truth. These “judgments of residence” seem to be similar to the Chinese practice of “talking bitterness.” A government functionary is brought up before the public and humiliated by former victims of his corruption.

It’s a good idea, but not for “bringing order” to the chaos of political culture in LA. It’s a good idea for revenge. If Montaner added a bit of "talking bitterness," i.e., public humiliation in the public square, then I'm sure he would find a lot of support amongst the people of Latin America.

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