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After Oppression

Transitional Justice in Latin America and Eastern Europe

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The decline of authoritarianism in Latin America and Eastern Europe marked the end of a dark chapter in the history of these societies. In both regions, transition to democracy was accompanied by distinct efforts to come to terms with the traumatic experiences of the past and to demand accountability from the oppressors. The impact of these efforts rippled far beyond national boundaries, expanding the frontiers of international justice, and yielding indelible lessons and inspiration.

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The complexity and effectiveness of transitional justice in Latin America and Eastern Europe

The violations of human rights by the authoritarian regimes in Latin America and Eastern Europe created growing popular anger that exploded in mass uprisings and demands for change, bringing the regimes to an end. It was a bottom-up process: a gradually rising discontent of ordinary people who, in the aftermath of the changes, made continuous calls for justice and for the perpetrators to be brought to account, and simultaneous calls for compensation for the victims. The demands for justice and compensation faced initial reluctance, partly because political forces connected to previous regimes remained powerful and influential. The processes of transitional justice have been controversial and complex, sometimes involving demands for extra-judicial punishment or similarly unacceptable calls for blanket forgiveness.

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