Rachel Nolan

Rachel Nolan’s Until I Find You, about adoption in Guatemala, is due in January.

People​ often say at a human rights trial, or in a police procedural or murder mystery, that ‘bones don’t lie.’ But bones can’t speak for themselves and tell us who has done them violence. And those who know may have reason to lie. At trials for crimes against humanity, some of the most eloquent testimony comes not from survivors but from skeletons: a bullet hole, or...

If Colombia​ held a minute’s silence for every victim of its six-decade armed conflict, then no one would speak for the next seventeen years. This fact is mentioned in passing in the 895-page final report of Colombia’s Truth Commission, in a section about the near impossibility of memorialising the conflict. The report tries to leave nothing out. Its findings go beyond the...

It​ was in part allegations of corruption against those around him that caused Brazil’s most important leader before Lula, the dictator turned elected president Getúlio Vargas, to shoot himself in the heart in 1954. But there is no ‘culture of corruption’ in Brazil or Latin America more generally, as outsiders sometimes claim – what would that even mean? It is impunity that makes those who can, steal, and others shrug. ‘Rouba, mas faz’ (‘he steals, but gets things done’) is one expression, and Brazilians have another for what usually happens when a rich or powerful person is investigated or arrested: ‘acaba em pizza’ – it ends up with a pizza, it all comes to nothing. The shocking thing about Car Wash is that anyone went to jail at all. After his 2014 arrest, Renato Duque, a former director at Petrobras, asked his lawyer: ‘What do they think they’re doing? What sort of country is this?’

No Bananas Today: Mario Vargas Llosa

Rachel Nolan, 2 December 2021

The coup​ is almost funny, if you squint. The year was 1954, and the CIA, still young and enthusiastic, had decided to overthrow the democratically elected president of Guatemala. Washington was convinced that the tiny republic was a threat, a reflection of growing anti-communist paranoia, and – in particular – of the ministrations of Sigmund Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays,...

On the night of 26 September 2014, in the town of Iguala in the Mexican state of Guerrero, local police opened fire at several buses – some full of students, one carrying football players coming home from a match. Six people were killed. By midnight, 43 more students had disappeared, or, rather, had been forcibly disappeared. That’s where the story fades to grey. As the case of the missing students became international news, parents and activists went looking. They found first one mass grave, then another and another. Not their children’s. Other bones.

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