Breaking Silence

Breaking Silence

by Richard Alan White

Paperback(New Edition)

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Overview

Gripping narrative of a remarkable crime that has changed the landscape of international human rights law. While the case is a U.S. federal court proceeding, the underlying drama involves the torture and murder of the 17-year-old son of a courageous and Paraguayan doctor and critic of the Stroesner dictatorship. White, a historian by training, was and is a friend of the Filartega family, and much of the book is a first-hand account of the how the Filartegas, aided by White himself, sought--and eventually achieved--justice. In its narrative approach it resembles Capote's In Cold Blood.

The Filartega case has redefined the role of our courts in enforcing human rights in international law. It has served as the basis for nearly one hundred progeny suits, which have grown to encompass not only human rights abuses, but also violations of international environmental and labor rights law. Today, there are dozens of class action suites pending against corporate defendants ranging from oil conglomerates destroying the Amazon rain forests to designer clothing companies running sweat shops abroad. All of these cases can be traced to the Filartega decision.

White, who wrote his first book in the early 1970s on revolution in Paraguay, returned to that country shortly after Joelito Filartega's death, in 1976. He lived in the Filartega's home, sharing their agonies and their terror, as they tried to find their son's killer. Eventually, in 1980, aided by the Carter Administration's state department, the Filartegas won a $10 million suit against Paraguay's top police officer, Pena, for violating international law--the Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789. More recently, in 2001, Dr. Filartiga was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781589012240
Publisher: Georgetown University Press
Publication date: 09/03/2004
Series: Advancing Human Rights Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 324
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Richard Alan White is Senior Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, DC, and former consultant on Latin American affairs for ABC World News. He has worked for Amnesty International, and is the author of The Morass: United States Intervention in Central America and Paraguay's Autonomous Revolution: 1810-1840.

What People are Saying About This

Katie Redford

Breaking Silence offers a unique, personal insight into the family behind the most important human rights case in modern U.S. legal history. What happened to the Filártigas, and what they did with their family tragedy, invokes simultaneous emotions of sadness, heartbreak and outrage, but also hope, inspiration and admiration for the courage of the people and the creativity of the lawyers behind this groundbreaking lawsuit. Ultimately, this important book shows that anything can happen when you combine the power of law and the power of people. It is a must read for anyone who thinks that the powers they are challenging are just too powerful—sometimes, just sometimes, there is justice and the good guy does win.

George Andreopoulos

Richard White was present at the creation of the Filártiga case, and has written a very powerful and moving account of this landmark case. It is a fitting tribute to the courage and commitment of one family, and of a small group of dedicated supporters who stayed the course, and in the end transformed, despite the risks and setbacks involved, the landscape of human rights advocacy.

From the Publisher

"Richard White was present at the creation of the Filártiga case, and has written a very powerful and moving account of this landmark case. It is a fitting tribute to the courage and commitment of one family, and of a small group of dedicated supporters who stayed the course, and in the end transformed, despite the risks and setbacks involved, the landscape of human rights advocacy."—George Andreopoulos, director of the Center for International Human Rights at the City University of New York, and president of the Human Rights section of the American Political Science Association

"Breaking Silence offers a unique, personal insight into the family behind the most important human rights case in modern U.S. legal history. What happened to the Filártigas, and what they did with their family tragedy, invokes simultaneous emotions of sadness, heartbreak and outrage, but also hope, inspiration and admiration for the courage of the people and the creativity of the lawyers behind this groundbreaking lawsuit. Ultimately, this important book shows that anything can happen when you combine the power of law and the power of people. It is a must read for anyone who thinks that the powers they are challenging are just too powerful—sometimes, just sometimes, there is justice and the good guy does win. "—Katie Redford, codirector of EarthRights International

"Over ten years, I've observed Dr. White's meticulous research methods at work yielding a monumental study on international human rights law and politics. From my standpoint as a human rights educator, Breaking Silence is a triple winner: a highly readable and gripping dramatic thriller, a true story by an historian who witnessed the development of the landmark case from its tragic beginning to triumphant ending; and a book that puts the human into the study of human rights."—Richard Pierre Claude, founding editor of Human Rights Quarterly and professor emeritus of government and politics, University of Maryland

Richard Pierre Claude

Over ten years, I've observed Dr. White's meticulous research methods at work yielding a monumental study on international human rights law and politics. From my standpoint as a human rights educator, Breaking Silence is a triple winner: a highly readable and gripping dramatic thriller, a true story by an historian who witnessed the development of the landmark case from its tragic beginning to triumphant ending; and a book that puts the human into the study of human rights.

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