While Malena deals with difficult, awful topics it does so in a fascinating and engaging way. The book's title is the name of a popular tango. The tango is danced several times in the book—Diego is praised for his tango skills-- and like a good dance this book has many twists and turns. I recommend reading it as you think you too will find it both educational and entertaining, always a good combination.
One part of the Dirty War that I was unaware of concerned the Catholic Church's role in all of this. So let's start the interview by talking about that. In response to my emails about the church's involvement, the author provided several links with great background on all of this.
While I knew about some parts of the Dirty War I was unaware of the religious overtones, both the anti- semitism and the role of the Catholic Church. Has the Catholic Church ever apologized for its involvement?
The role of the Catholic Church remains one of the most painful aspects of the Dirty War among Catholics who compare it with the often courageous stance of the clergy under the military dictatorships in Chile, Brazil or El Salvador. In Argentina there is no real separation of church and state. The state is constitutionally mandated to support the Catholic Church, and there has always been a symbiotic relationship between the Church and the military.
During the Dirty War, while clergymen and nuns who denounced the carnage or helped the victims' families were themselves "disappearing," the Argentine leadership of the Church overwhelmingly defended the regime, and the Vatican remained silent. Chaplains stationed in hundreds of military units throughout the country visited the secret death camps, urged the tortured prisoners to confess, blessed the death flights that dropped people into the ocean. A 1996 pastoral letter from the Argentine bishops and similar subsequent statements have fallen short of the apology many expected and have not quelled the debate. It's one of the many wounds from the Dirty War that have yet to heal.