Brevity / Reinaldo Escobar

Brevity refers to a temporal dimension which, although not quantified in precise terms (minutes, weeks, years), is identified by the relatively short duration of an action, a process, a phenomenon. Brief is the time that a lightning illuminates the night and also brief is the presence of the human species on the planet.

Over the course of the last years, which are already baptized “Raulism,” there has been a great increase in the repressive method that has come to be called “brief detentions.” It is a taking advantage of a legal loophole by which a citizen is deprived of his liberty without a formal accusation nor evidence of a crime having been committed.

You’re walking down the street, coming out of the house of a friend, sitting in a park, or planning to travel outside your home province, and some individuals dressed in plain clothes (rarely in uniforms) pounce on you and throw you headfirst into a car. If you’re lucky what looks to be an ID card is quickly flashed in front of your eyes, and you’re then taken to a station where you will spend the next 24 hours, more or less. Sometimes they’ll have you sit in the lobby of a police station, or they may put you in a cell with a drunk who broke the window of a bar, an exhibitionist picked up in front of a junior high school, or a drug dealer caught red-handed.

The only diversion is listening to the stories with which your cell mates explain their complete innocence, unless the situation calls for a higher dose of adrenalin and things end with a few well-placed blows to your throat or one of those interrogations where “they” know everything, conducted by an affable fat guy and some tall skinny Lombrosian, a natural-born thug.

When, the following morning, the new duty officer leans into the bars shouting your name and telling you to grab your things and get out of there, you will feel like one of the lucky ones. It’s possible they won’t have written anything down, probable that you weren’t entered into the list of detainees, and hence you couldn’t call your family nor have the right to a lawyer, you’re dismissed as if nothing at all happened there, as if it had all been a misunderstanding. Apologies? Don’t exaggerate.

Once on the street you yourself say that the detention was brief and not worth denouncing.

27 February 2012