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       Argentina and the Maryland Conference (1984)

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 by Eduardo R. Saguier

In another contribution of my authorship, I centered exclusively around collaboration with  the state terrorism figure [1].  In this new writing I would like to ponder over the nature of exile, banishment, expatriation or ostracism, as an expression of cultural resistance, in the antipodes of collaboration with state terrorist governments. It is well known that exile is as old as human history, where it was achieved in all times and places and in Argentina specially during  Rosas regime (1836-52), afterwards in Quintana's time (1905), Uriburu's (1930-1931) and in times of the 1943 Revolution and its extension during Peron's government (1946-55), also from the revolution which hurled him down in 1955, as well as during the time of the auto-named Argentine Revolution  (1966-72) [2]. But it is also certain that not all exiles were of the same entity or consideration, as in the history of humanity different exiles were given, external and internal ones, the purely economic known as mere emigration as well as the exclusively political and also the strictly intellectual.

With reference to the external exile experienced during the Argentine genocide regime (1976-1983), increased prolongation of a purely academic previous exile (1966-72), I have been asking myself for some time, why an investigation on the purpose of same has not continued? Saul Sosnoswski, who organized in December 1984 a Conference of Argentine intellectuals in the University of Maryland (U.S.A.), who participated among others, Leon Rozitchner, Tomás Eloy Martinez, Noe Jitrik, Tulio Halperin Donghi, Beatriz Sarlo, José Pablo Feinmannn, Liliana Hecker, Luis Gregorich, Kive Staiff and Juan Carlos Martini, afterwards reported - in 1988 published compilation - their remembrances of said meeting " The climax was tense before inauguration. Strategies of Confronting and Distension were faced, accusation of denouncements and silences, for geographic displacements and permanence" [3]  The same guest distribution and its different contribution and contents in five (5) different sessions revealed the existing friendships and rivalries. Halperin also integrated  session I called "Contexts" only with Solari Yrigoyen and Peralta Ramos. And Kive Staiff and Kovadloff accepted to integrate the session named "Debate and reconstruction process" only with Luis Gregorich and Solari Yrigoyen. Only in the other three sessions a debate suggestion was established having into consideration the ideological rivalry of contenders.

Nevertheless Conference efforts to start an enriching discussion on said conference Sosnowski complained in the years following that conference " it could not be done, it would not be accomplished or it was not wanted to be done" in a rigurous analysis of what had happened in the intellectual field. "It would only wish that the subject -- as among others-- to cover a fugitive trajectory and "disappear" among the rethoric constellations of the tasks to be performed "for a full national reconstruction". There was no time to reflect upon." [4]

With the purpose of answering the challenge formulated, two decades ago by Sosnowski and similar to the numerous debates and conferences which happened during after war Germany over the intellectual's responsibility for the Holocaust (Kampe, 1985) and ignoring if any other colleague had made  any contribution witn respect to the referenced Argentine case, asking oneself, which were those denounciations and silences? Which were the questioned permanencies and which were the geographic displacements?. Leon Rozitchner's text stood out by its critism of Rodolfo Puiggros and the "disappearance" interpretation of his son. As far as the Hecker text is concerned it is a well known fact of its polemic with Cortázar. That of Gregorich, at that time EUDEBA's director, stood out also because he had commanded during the dictatorship the cultural weekly edition of La Opinion newspaper. [5]. But it is even more pathetic due to an article  of his, which turned to be bitterly noticed, entitled "Literature divided", published in the Clarin's newspaper when he commanded its international page, where he established a mere geographic distinction, betwen ironic and satirical, among the writers who stayed to the so called internal exile and the others who left Argentina during the military dictatorship. (6). Differing from the distinction merely in space established by Gregorich, historian Osvaldo Bayer tried in that Conference to point out divisory waters founded by "marks left by the dictatorship". In his crude report Bayer remembers the preference grades, the schizophrenia, the cultural repression ways, the violence interpretation, the dictatorial publicity campaign, TV slogans, etc..

But there is no doubt that the report arising more intrigues and suspicions, was the one of Gregorich, due to rancours and resentments which his Clarin article had spread. In his report and participation, Gregorich tried laboriously to clarify the "misunderstanding" adding cynically that that division was thought to "desorient" censors, but really covered the wish to emphasize the exil writers presence  (or the disappeared ones) such as Puig, Viñas, Constantini, Conti, Walsh, Di Benedetto and Tizon. In an indirect answer to fiction writer Juan Carlos Martini present in the Conference, Gregorich stated that: "nobody has deciphered its obvious and evident sense: the revindication of the critic tradition in Argentine literature, the recovery of a space where literature engages itself with political and social reality".[7] But the pretended "clarification" sounded as a late excuse and deepened suspicions and resentments  over moral conscience of certain "internal exile" by part of other Conference members.

It was hard to decipher the text sense, when the same was tarnished of an irony hurting the ones who have opted for exile. Also it was difficult to sense the so-called "revindication of the Argentine critical tradition" in a passage contaminated by an ironic mordacity on the proscripts.

" What will happen now, what is happening now to the ones gone? Separated from their art sources, each time less protected by omnipotent ideologies, facing a world which offers few heroic expectations, what will they do, how will they write when they do not listen to the voices of their people neither breath their suffering and relief? It can be foreseen that they will pass from indignation to melancholy, from despair to nostalgy and that their books will suffer inexorably, once the treasury of memory exhausted, by an estrangement each time more unbearable. Their texts, with the lack of readers and sense, will cover an arch which will start lifting itself in its pride and certainty and which will be finished dejected in its insignificance and doubt".(8)

It is difficult to give credit to the irony of this paragraph, resulting from a poisonous conscience, bordering state terrorism collaboration, specially considering that the expatriations were forced by menaces and dangers of prison or death and not for mere emigrations. They are correct, according to Sloterdijk (2003) ", the escapes, as with them it rejects a stupid intention and only the crazy people consume themselves in hopeless fights" [9].  As well as in ancient times living in exile was considered one of the maximum despairs, to the extreme that Socrates  preferred to drink cicute, in late modernity it was considered a blessing -- not only of freedom airs warranted, but essentially by the safety that meant of the life itself, whatever painful the experience might be. The great poet Heine emigrated to Paris in 1831 "... to breathe the citadin air which made one free. "I left because I had to go" [10]. I know cases of many colleagues that lacked the "omnipotent ideology" by their kwnown social-democratic militancy, but whose staying in the country became unbearable, as their police records and their left-wing friendships had inevitably marked. As a consequence of same they suffered menaces and in some cases kidnapping simulation and due to those actions they accelerated their exile voyage.

But at the same I must point out that exiles differed much among themselves, not only for the social and professional condition of the exiled, but also by their belonging or not to a political apparatus which make common cause with their disgrace, by the geographical place where they would land, but also by the cultural-political resistance practised during same. One thing is to exile oneself with a diploma and curriculum at hand and another thing is to do it without them. In their brief and first exile in Chile, during Ongania's dictatorship, in their condition of students without scholarships, the exiles of that rank suffered one and a thousand nightmares. But in the second exile with Videla & Co., accounting with the background and academic recommendations they could ship with scholarships in their knapsacks. As far as the geographic place was concerned, for a South-American, specially that of the Southern Cone, the exile in Europe or Mexico is a blessing compared with that of Australia, United States Mid-West or Scandinavian countries [11].

Finally one thing is to exile oneself and afterward deepening into mutism and contemplation and another one is to exile oneself preserving their contesting and solidary spirit for the ones who continued suffering in their native land [12]. Which are the responsabilities and ethic virtues of an intellectual elite exiled in dark times? It is not to be true to their moral conscience, without which" the corrupting power of the institutions could not be resisted? [13]


1.- Saguier, Eduardo R. (2003): "Collaboration with Coup d'état State Terrotism in Argentina.

2.- For characteristics, purposes and actions of the Argentines banned in the fight against Rosas, see Piccirilli, 1965: and Paez de la Torre (h) 1980-81. For exiled and banned in Argentine history, see Caro Figueroa, 1987. Over exite during Uriburu's times (1930-31), see Oyhanarte, 1932. Over exile, coups d'état, intellectuals and Buenos Aires university (1966-86), see Jitrik 1984; and Funes 1997. With reference to Argentine asylum in Mexico (1976-83), see Bernetti and Giardinelli, 2003. For tales over the Dirty War in Argentina (1975-80), see Corbatta, 1999. Over Concentration Fields in Argentina, see Calveiro 1998. For reports to Argentine writers (Constenla, Lopez Echague, Piazzolla, Torchelli, Walger), see Gomez 1999. Over the Argentine exile children (1975-1984), see Guelar, Jarach; and Ruiz, 2002. Over the surviving dreams of a prisoner "Montonera" in the Esma, see Ramus, 2000.

3.- see Sosnowski, 1988, 8.

4.- see Sosnowski, 1988, 13.

5.- Luis Gregorich has been director of the Weekly Cultural section of La Opinion newspaper  between 1975 and 1979, afterwards head of Clarin's international edition and later on, when his naming as ambassador was rejected by parliament, he was named EUDEBA's head (1984-86). During the year 1983 (recruited by Leopoldo Moreau at that time fellow journalist of La Opinión ) he was head of Political Participation Movement (CPP) of the Radical Civic Union (UCR) together with Eng. Roulet, Marcelo Stubrin and Pacho O'Donnell.

6.- see Clarin newspaper (Buenos Aires) January 29, 1981.

7.- see Gregorich, 1988, 111.

8.- see Gregorich, 1988, 123.

9.- see Sloterdjk, 2003, 202.

10.- see Sloterdijk, 2003, 195.

11.- Once the mentioned exiled people landed in the Mid-West, they started missing the sidewalks, coffee-shops and friends, up-till the most heart-breaking homesickness, envying fellow journalists exiled in Mexico or Paris, because in the American Mid-West there was nobody to talk to except in cases of European colleagues.  This hard and tremendous solitude lasted until they went to Mexico, where they could recover their language and many other things that they missed, to finally return to Buenos Aires, on January 1984.

12.- see contribution of my authorship entitled "Moral indifference during the Dictatorship to the Disappeared, by part of the Argentine Intellectual Elite" http: //. www.

13.- see MacIntyre, 1987, 241.


Bayer, Osvaldo (1988): Pequeño Recordatorio para un país sin memoria, en Saúl Sosnowski (comp.), Represión y reconstrucción de una cultura: el caso argentino. (Buenos Aires: Eudeba), 203-228;

Bernetti, Jorge Luis y Mempo Giardinelli (2003): México: El Exilio que hemos vivido. Memoria del exilio argentino en México durante la dictadura, 1976-1983 (Quilmes: Universidad Nacional de Quilmes);

Calveiro, Pilar (1998): Poder y desaparición. Los Campos de Concentración en la Argentina (Buenos Aires: Ed. Colihue);

Caro Figueroa, Gregorio (1987): "Exilados y proscriptos en la historia argentina", Todo es Historia (Buenos Aires), t.46, n.246, 6-39;

Corbatta, Jorgelina (1999): Narrativas de la Guerra Sucia en Argentina (Buenos Aires: Ed. Corregidor);

Funes, Patricia (1997): "Exilio y legitimidad académica: el golpe de estado de 1966, los intelectuales y la universidad de Buenos Aires", ponencia presentada en el XX Congreso Internacional de la Latin American Studies Association (LASA), celebrado en Guadalajara (México), entre el 17 y el 19 de Abril de 1997;

Gómez, Albino (1999): Exilios (Porqué volvieron) (Rosario: Homo Sapiens Ediciones; y Buenos Aires: Edit. tea)

Gregorich, Luis (1988): Literatura. Una descripción del campo: Narrativa, Periodismo, Ideología; en Saúl Sosnowski (comp.), Represión y reconstrucción de una cultura: el caso argentino. (Buenos Aires: Eudeba), 109-124;

Guelar, Diana; Vera Jarach; y Beatriz Ruiz (2002): Los chicos del exilio. Argentina (1975-1984) (Buenos Aires: Ediciones El País de Nomeolvides);

Hecker, Liliana (1988): Los Intelectuales ante la Instancia del Exilio: Militancia y Creación, en Saúl Sosnowski (comp.), Represión y reconstrucción de una cultura: el caso argentino. (Buenos Aires: Eudeba), 195-202;

Jitrik, Noé (1984): Las armas y las razones: ensayos sobre el peronismo, el exilio, la literatura, 1975-1980 (Buenos Aires: Ed. Sudamericana);

Kampe Norbert (1987): Normalizing the Holocaust? The Recent Historians´ Debate in the Federal Republic of Germany", Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 2, 61-80;

MacIntyre, Alasdair (1987): Tras la Virtud (Barcelona: Ed. Crítica, Grupo Editorial Grijalbo);

Martini, Juan Carlos (1988): Especificidad, alusiones y saber de una escritura, en Saúl Sosnowski (comp.), Represión y reconstrucción de una cultura: el caso argentino. (Buenos Aires: Eudeba), 125-132;

Oyhanarte, Horacio B. (1932, 1988): "El Régimen", en Horacio B. Oyhanarte, Por la Patria desde el exilio digo (Montevideo, 1932); y en Miguel Unamuno, Horacio Oyhanarte y el golpe militar de 1930 (Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, Biblioteca Política Argentina, n.231), 94-129;

Páez de la Torre (h), Carlos (1980-81): "Aportes para el estudio de los propósitos y acciones conspirativas de los emigrados argentinos en Bolivia entre 1841 y 1852", Investigaciones y Ensayos (Buenos Aires: Academia Nacional de la Historia), 29, 425-451; y 30, 401-433;

Piccirilli, Ricardo (1965): "Características de la emigración política argentina en la lucha contra Rosas", Boletín de la Academia Nacional de la Historia (Buenos Aires), 37, 21-41;

Ramus, Susana Jorgelina (2000): Sueños Sobrevivientes de una Montonera: A Pesar de la Esma (Buenos Aires: Ed. Colihue);

Rozitchner, León (1982): Psychoanalyse et politique: la leçon de l´exil, Les Temps Modernes;

Rozitchner, León (1988): Exilio: Guerra y Democracia: Una Secuencia Ejemplar, en Saúl Sosnowski (comp.), Represión y reconstrucción de una cultura: el caso argentino. (Buenos Aires: Eudeba), 167-186;

Saguier, Eduardo R. (2003): "Indiferencia Moral durante la Dictadura para con los Desaparecidos, por parte de una Elite Intelectual Argentina";

Sarlo, Beatriz (1988): El Campo Intelectual: un espacio doblemente fracturado, en Saúl Sosnowski (comp.), Represión y reconstrucción de una cultura: el caso argentino. (Buenos Aires: Eudeba), 96-108;

Sloterdijk, Peter(2003): Crítica de la Razón Cínica (Madrid: Ed. Siruela);

Sosnowski, Saúl (1988): Introducción, en Saúl Sosnowski (comp.), Represión y reconstrucción de una cultura: el caso argentino. (Buenos Aires: Eudeba), 7-15;

Eduardo R. Saguier

Posts: 9 | Posted: 9:42 PM on September 12, 2003 | IP
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