Source: (2003) In John Torpey, ed., Politics and the past: on repairing historical injustices. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Pp. 169-191.

Many Latin American countries in the last two decades have undergone transitions from military rule or dictatorship to democracy, often through violence and then negotiation. In these countries it has been very challenging to promote national reconciliation in the wake of severe human rights violations. As Sharon Lean observes, the issues of reparation and reconciliation have become very prominent because of the gravity of the harms done by authoritarian regimes and by the realities of everyday life (where, after the fact, victims and perpetrators might see each other regularly because of small populations and concentrated centers of population). While truth commissions and truth-telling have been valuable, they are not enough in themselves, claims Lean, to deal satisfactorily with past injustices. With the incidence of claims for reparations growing n Latin America, Lean surveys reparations politics in Latin America. She begins by defining key terms, then summarizing the pertinent human rights violations. This leads to comparisons of bases for claims, mechanisms for managing claims, and reparations that have been made. Next she discusses the emerging issue of transnational reparations claims, and finally she reflects on the potential of reparations to repair the injustices of Latin America's recent past.