J. M. Coetzee interviews Pedro Mairal, Samanta Schweblin, and Fabian Martinez

J. M. Coetzee in the Sydney Review of Books:

J.M. Coetzee: Balzac famously wrote that behind every great fortune lies a crime. One might similarly claim that behind every successful colonial venture lies a crime, a crime of dispossession. Just as in the dynastic novels of the nineteenth century the heirs of great fortunes are haunted by the crimes on which their fortunes were founded, a successful colony like Australia seems to be haunted by a history that will not go away. The question of what to say or do about dispossession of Indigenous Australians is as alive in the Australian imagination as it has ever been.

Could the same be said about Argentina, which has a comparably bloody history behind it?

Fabian Martinez Siccardi: The bloody history and the dispossession of indigenous peoples in Argentina, which is not only an issue from the past but also a current one, given the conflicts occurring all over the country over land and other rights, does not seem to be at the centre of discussion in Argentina, not even among the politically progressive and socially sensitive sectors of society. And this is due, in my opinion, to a profound ignorance of history. The massacres, the concentration camps and all of the past and current abuses against indigenous peoples have never made it into the textbooks, and at the same time, the main media outlets are hermetically sealed against indigenous voices, which they normally accuse of being ‘terrorists’.

An example: In 2017, Santiago Maldonado, a young white man who was participating in a Mapuche indigenous protest, disappeared in Patagonia. Over the months that followed until his body was found, the protests that were held all over the country demanding explanations from the government about Maldonado’s fate gained supporters, until there were hundreds of thousands. A few weeks after Maldonado’s body was found, during a conflict over territorial devolution, the Argentine army shot Rafael Nahuel, an unarmed 27-year-old Mapuche man, in the back, killing him. The march to protest his death was attended by 200 people.

More here.