Omar Torrijos and the man he called “my gangster,” Manuel Antonio Noriega.
The NO of Dignity
by Miguel Antonio Bernal, quoting Oriana Fallaci
October 23 was exactly 44 years since the then-reigning military dictatorship in Panama, imposed, with the absolute absence of democratic freedoms, the so-called “plebiscite” to get “support” for the Carter-Torrijos treaties,
With freedoms violated and more than 300 Panamanians in exile, the Torrijos military dictatorship had all the media muzzled and “won approval” of the canal treaties. They passed easier than a camel through the eye of a needle.
The Unión Patriótica Femenina, made up of a group of female citizens who fought against militarism, disseminated – clandestinely as they had to – the following text that remains fully valid:
Perhaps it’s because I do not understand the power, the mechanism by which a man or a woman feels invested or is invested with the right to rule over others and to punish them if they do not obey. Coming from a despotic sovereign or an elected president, a murderous general or a revered leader, I see power as an inhuman and hateful phenomenon.
You never know where power begins and ends … the only thing is that it cannot be controlled and that it kills your freedom.
I also believe it is my duty to remind you that, to the same extent that I do not understand power, I understand whoever is in power, who censors power, who responds to power, especially those who rebel against the power imposed by brutality.
Disobedience towards the arrogant I have always considered as the only way to use the miracle of being born.
The silence of those who do not react and even applaud, I have always considered it as the true death of a woman or a man.
And listen to me: the most beautiful monument of human dignity is the one I saw on a hill in the Peloponnese. It was not a statue, it was not a flag, but three letters that in Greek mean NO. Men thirsty for freedom had written them among the trees during the Nazi-fascist occupation and, for thirty years, this one had NOT been there, unblemished by rain or sun. Later the colonels erased it with a layer of lime. But, immediately, as if by magic, the rain and the sun dissolved the lime. So, day after day, the NO reappeared, stubborn, desperate, indelible.
This writing does not pretend to be anything other than what it is: “No” wish to promise anything more than what it promises. But you should read it, keeping in mind that NO that reappears stubborn, desperate, indelible, among the trees on a hill in the Peloponnese.
from the book Interview with History, by Oriana Fallaci
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