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Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is a Conlapayara Woman

Only a heartless person could not be moved by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate judiciary committee. And only a biased one could not see that the testimony of Judge Brett Kavanaugh was trying to replace fire for truth. His refusal to unequivocally say that he would welcome an FBI investigation of the incident involving him and Dr. Ford was a weak point in his own defense.

Dr. Ford’s testimony was poised, pained, and ringing of civic responsibility, while Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony was loud and vigorous, just what the audience of Republican senators wanted to hear. On Saturday, Judge Kavanaugh received the “blessing” of President Donald Trump, who said that Brett Kavanaugh would be a “truly great” justice.

The hearing evolved in a different way than expected, and the FBI investigation may clear matters definitely. It is Senator Jeff Flake’s merit who, unlike his colleagues in the Senate, had the minimum amount of decency to ask for an investigation of the incident.

Impressive as it was, Dr. Ford’s behavior has an unusual precedent. In his book entitled Genesis, the late Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano narrates how in 1542 Francisco the Orellana, a close friend and possibly even a relative of Francisco Pizarro, the conquistador of Peru, fought the inhabitants of Conlapayara.

Going down the Amazon with his men, de Orellana reached the village of Conlapayara. On St. John’s Day, with bursts of arquebus and crossbow from their brigantines, de Orellana’s men killed the villagers coming from shore. Things were going well for the Spaniards.

They hadn’t considered, however, the possibility that the women from the village were going to join the battle. The women appeared suddenly, and placing themselves in front of the men, fought fiercely. Women of great attractiveness and charm, they fought courageously, never getting tired.

The Spaniards had heard of such women, but only now, in the heat of battle, they realized that they existed. They lived to the south, in dominions without men. They fought the Spaniards laughing and dancing and singing, their breast quivering in the breeze. They chased them away until the Spaniards got lost beyond the mouth of the Tapajós River. They were exhausted and astonished by what they had experienced.

The invaders kept sailing the river until they reached the sea without pilot or compass or chart. “They just let themselves drift down the Amazon River, through the jungle, without the energy to row, and mumbling prayers: They pray to God to make the next enemies male, however many they may be,” wrote Galeano.

While giving her testimony in front of the judiciary committee of the Senate, Dr. Ford met the distrustful look of all senators, with the unique exception of Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, who seemed genuinely troubled by her words. After both testimonies were presented, and Senator Flake asked for a one-week investigation by the FBI before casting his vote, all senators rushed back to their chambers, in disbelief of the day’s proceedings.

Even President Donald Trump, a man who is not known to be sympathetic to victims of any kind, least of all of sexual violence, called Dr. Ford’s testimony “compelling”. Dr. Ford showed tremendous courage, decency and a rare sense of civic duty. She proved to be a true woman of Conlapayara.

 

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Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

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