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After Oppression

Transitional Justice in Latin America and Eastern Europe

By Vesselin Popovski and Monica Serrano

The decline of authoritarianism in Latin America and Eastern Europe closed 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 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.

As these societies entered the uncharted waters of transition and liberalization, one difficult question remained: How to reconcile the need for democratic stability in the present and the future with the imperative of truth and justice for the past? This was an unprecedented test. Each society made its way forward through trial and error.

After Oppression aims to analyze and reveal the effectiveness of various accountability mechanisms. Drawing comparisons from case studies in Latin America and Eastern Europe, the book demonstrates that while there are many different paths to truth and justice, all depend on continued efforts in order to reach them. In many cases these efforts also create favorable conditions for the development of a resilient human rights culture. The experiences across regions show that democratic consolidation and accountability for past human rights violations are closely related, if independent, processes. This accessible book makes an important contribution toward better understanding those processes and the relationship between them.

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