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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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Neither forgiving nor punishing? Evaluating transitional justice in Romania

Romanian transitional justice – encompassing a handful of trials against Communist leaders, the opening of the secret archives, reforms of the security sector, a Truth Commission, mild lustration, two official apologies, financial compensation, and the restitution of confiscated property in kind – has been reluctantly moved forward by initiatives from anti- Communistsocial segments and systematically blocked by the political elite. The advocates of a radical break with the Communist regime have been drawn primarily from among the victims and their surviving relatives. Among them were members of pre-Communist political parties, collaborators of the royal family, individuals involved in anti-Communist resistance during the 1940s and the 1950s, Orthodox, Greek and Roman Catholic and Protestant faithful persecuted for their religious beliefs, intellectuals who spoke out against the Communist regime, people who unsuccessfully tried to cross the border illegally in order to escape to Western Europe, and workers and miners who revolted in Valea Jiului in 1977 and Braşov in 1987. Some of them were imprisoned and tortured, others lost their jobs, were relocated to different regions of the country or forced to emigrate, still others were spied upon and placed under constant surveillance, and another group lost their property to Communist authorities (Oprea, 2002, 2005 and 2007; Oprea and Olaru, 2003).

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