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Disappearances in the Post-Transition Era in Latin America$
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Karina Ansolabehere, Barbara A. Frey, and Leigh A. Payne

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197267226

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197267226.001.0001

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(p.270) Conclusions
Disappearances in the Post-Transition Era in Latin America

Silvan Mandolessi

British Academy

This book fills an important gap on research devoted to disappearances in democratic contexts. It connects present-day disappearances with ‘classic’ disappearances committed during Latin America’s past authoritarian regimes and armed conflicts. Through its conceptual framework, case studies and description of ‘tools,’ the book applies knowledge of the region’s past to explain today’s violations. The editors emphasise the continuities in the practice of disappearances between both periods, including its clandestine nature, its targeting of 'disposable' populations, its links to the political economy of development; and its utility in establishing social control through ambiguous loss. The book also urges a rethinking of the state’s responsibility for disappearances under international law. Instead of allowing states to deny accountability for disappearances by private actors, the book argues that, in contexts of impunity and generalized violence, the state’s failure to search or to investigate is enough to prove acquiescence. The book provides an insightful and multidimensional picture of the phenomenon, significantly contributing to an enhanced understanding of the multiple ways in which disappearances continue to occur in democratic countries. It also offers a toolbox of best practices for civil society actors who continue to fight against disappearances, in Latin America and beyond.

Keywords:   Civil Society, ‘Classic’ disappearances, Disappearances in democracy, Latin America, Logics of disappearance, State responsibility, Toolbox

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