campaign conducted by the Los Angeles
Times saved the lives of an entire Argentine family. And I myself would not be
free now had not the foreign press — the
U. S. press, in particular — kept up a
steady barrage of coverage about my
Gandhi, he's a man with a mystique." He
said he had not seen Esquivel in two years,
but had heard that he was very badly tortured. "They destroyed his genitals with
electric shocks," he said.
It was painful to listen to such details,
especially from one so restrained and
"The press can do more
rights than the pope,
in the struggle for human
the United Nations and
Of course, American journalists are
not personally obliged to face the choices
that Timerman had to face. "It was a
matter I was led to understand," he wrote,
"only because I was forced to live it
through, because I had to decide which of
two attitudes to adopt . . ." He chose to
speak out, knowing the risks. He then suffered the consequences.
Journalists who speak out in this
country do not suffer such consequences.
"You can be independent here," said Timerman, "but in a country like Argentina you are alone. An independent journ-
list has the law with him in a democracy.
Where there is no law you have nothing."
Questions at the press conference
kept coming back to the theme
of torture. "I'm not an expert
on torture," said Timerman,
"I'm an expert on being tortured." At
one point he laughed: "It is unbelievable
for the American people! Everything is
unbelievable for the American people.
Hitler was unbelievable."
But how did he react to the horror
of being tortured? "It is very personal,"
he replied. "You don't know how you
react under torture. There is no escape.
Many people go mad, commit suicide.
But if you are sure of your place in the
world . . . you can go on."
He told of the time that Eli Wiesel, survivor of Auschwitz and author of several
books on the Holocaust, visited him. They
talked of torture. Wiesel said, "I would
commit suicide." Timerman replied, "But
you, you were in Auschwitz! You saw
your father go to the crematorium. I think
that's worse than torture."
In a country of indiscriminate violations of human rights, Argentine Jews are
particular targets, said Timerman: "Fascists always try to show that Jews are trying to take over." In semi-clandestine prisons, he explained that the prisoners are
allowed to walk Tor one hour a day.
"But," he said, "Jews had to go on all
fours, barking like dogs."
Timerman was living in Israel earlier
this year when two Left Bank Arab mayors were maimed by Israeli terrorists.
He protested the harassment of Arabs,
saying: "We should go into the streets
and say we are all Arabs," as the king of
Denmark did for Jews during World
Conditions are slowly improving
in Argentina, Timerman feels.
The labor unions are stronger
and he thinks human rights organizations will be stronger. The fact that
Adolfo Perez Esquivel, an Argentine, has
just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
should focus more international attention
on that country.
When asked if he knew Esquivel,
Timerman laughed: "I think I'm the only
one who knows him." (Esquivel taught
two of Timerman's sons.) "He's like
courteous. To actually experience them is
beyond the comprehension of most of us
in this country. (I had a friend in England,
a Latvian, who vomited whenever he saw
carrots. As a child, he had seen his parents
killed by Russians. He and his brothers
stayed on their farm for a year afterwards
subsisting on carrots.) A list of 167 names
of journalists who have been imprisoned,
killed or "disappeared" in Latin America
in recent years appeared with Timerman's
story in the CJR.
Adam Horschild, writing about South
Africa in Mother Jones (November 1980),
said he spent several months there in
1962, working for an anti-apartheid newspaper. "It was the political turning point
of my life," he wrote. "I began to grasp
that, in most of the world, commitment
to one's beliefs brings far more serious
consequences than it does in the United
Four Russian feminist exiles gave an
exclusive interview to Robin Morgan (Ms.
November 1980.) They asked, "most of
all'" that American women write them
the personal stories of their lives so that
they might share this "stereotype-breaking information" with Russian women.
Said one of them, Yuliya Voznesenskaya:
"The simple story of any American woman would be useful in our magazine. Then
Russian women could see how, in reality,
women in the West live."
It repeats itself — Russia, South Africa
or Argentina. The freedom of expression
we enjoy in this country, the freedom of
journalists to write what they wish, carries
with it an obligation to all those who are
deprived of that freedom.
As Timerman wrote: "... when some
newspapers reported on our situation in
distant places of this world, be it a small
town or a large city, this news reached
us by that miracle of communication
which political prisoners the world over
have managed to establish. And it helped
us to live through that day; not to give
up in the face of filth, starvation and despair; to reject suicide. A small piece of information published in San Diego or Quebec, in Edinburgh or Naples, in Tel Aviv
or Costa Rica, lifted, if only briefly, the
burden of that worst of all punishments:
loneliness. The awareness that there was
someone out there who, for a moment of
his or her life, cared about us saved many
"And only journalism could do it."
We've got plenty of strong reasons to keep
Gene Jones in the State Senate.
Look around the Texas legislature. You
won't find a better record of true public
service. Since 1973, Gene Jones has
consistently authored and advocated
legislation to help people.
Gene Jones played an active role in the
78 special session to eliminate the sales
tax on utility bills and to expand
exemptions on inheritance taxes. In the
regular session last year, the Senator
helped revise the homestead property
tax law which saved taxpayers $1 billion.
Next session, he'll be out front in the
Senate pressing for tighter budgets and
further tax relief for the people of Texas.
GENE JONES for STATE SENATOR
Let's work hard to keep Gene Jones in the State Senate. He's the best friend we have in Austin.
Political advertising paid for by Gene Jones Campaign, Gloria Jones, chair.