Government Oppression in Argentina in the 1970s and 1980s
Valenzuela’s ‘‘The Censors’’ was written in the aftermath of a period of great turmoil in Argentina’s history. Juan Pero´n was a popular president in Argentina when he was first elected and during the early years of this administration (1946–1952). A supporter of unions and the working class, Pero´n also granted women the right to vote. Part of his popularity was attributed to the personal and political popularity of his wife Eva Pero´n, or Evita as she was known. Eva died in 1952. Juan Pero´n was, however, known for the violent repression of his opponents. Although he was re-elected in 1952, his government was overtaken by military generals, and in 1955, he resigned. The economy worsened, and the government was led by a succession of military and civilian rulers. Many Argentines remained loyal to Pero´n and prayed he would return to power, which he did in 1973. His second wife, Isabel, served as his vice president, and took over the rule of Argentina when Pero´n died in 1974. Isabel Pero´n’s real name was Maria Estela Martinez; a former dancer, she was known by her stage name. Isabel Pero´n’s government was increasingly influenced by an advisor, Jose Lopez Rega, who had strong antiliberal, anticommunist, and antilabor union views. Assassinations of leaders of such groups were ordered under Lopez Rega’s command. As tensions in the country mounted, Isabel Pero´n allowed armed forces whatever power they deemed necessary to subdue any rebellion against her government. In 1976, military forces seized control of the government and ousted her. The period from 1976 through 1983 was one of extreme violence, as rebel guerilla forces challenged the government’s military forces. Civilians who spoke out against the military government or supported either the Pero´ns or liberal organizations were killed or mysteriously disappeared. A war with British forces over a group of islands known as the Malvinas helped to bring about the end of this military rule. The government, which had never succeeded in gaining popular support and had now lost an embarrassing skirmish with the British, allowed elections to take place in 1983. Newly elected President Raul Alfonsı´n took office in 1984 and attempted to restore democracy to Argentina. The new president faced many obstacles, including the facts that military leaders remained a powerful force in the government and that a severe economic crisis loomed.
Post-Boom Spanish Fiction
A literary movement in the 1960s and 1970s among Latin American writers, known as the Latin American boom or Spanish boom (as they published their works in the Spanish language) featured works of experimental fiction. These writers questioned the nature of reality and explored questions related to the human condition in nontraditional ways. Realism was rejected. The works might contain fantastic or supernatural elements, or they might present the story’s events in a nonlinear or non-chronological fashion. Post-boom writers are those, such as Valenzuela, writing a generation after the boom writers. The post-boom is sometimes described as a reaction against the boom principles. Post-boom fiction tends to embrace realism as a storytelling method. The details of daily life enhance the fiction, and stories are typically conveyed chronologically. Often, political and social realism is the focus, with post-boom writers exploring the turbulent social and political problems that plagued many Latin American countries in the 1970s and 1980s. Donald L. Shaw, in his evaluation of this type of writing in The Post-Boom in Spanish American Fiction, describes the post-boom ‘‘as a movement in which fiction tends to reestablish a closer connection with the here and now of Spanish America.’’ Shaw describes the way elements of some of Valenzuela’s fiction, such as her focus on the individual and his or her private reality and on the significance of language, are reflective of the complex nature of the boom period itself. That is, Valenzuela treats reality as a personal matter and does not always overtly explore the larger political and social reality. In this way, Valenzuela presents a subjective portrait of reality, and one that is reflective of the questioning nature of boom fiction.
Sara Constantakis – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 29, Luisa Valenzuela, Published by Gale Group, 2001.