El Grito: Four Years of Female Clandestine Journalism Against the Military Dictatorship in Panama (1968-1972)
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Most countries of Latin America lived through long dictatorships before transitioning to democracy in the late twentieth century. Who keeps the spirit of resistance alive during bleak periods of intense repression? Who reaffirms the principles of democracy when they are violated with impunity? In Panama, a clandestine weekly titled El Grito (The Cry), published during the first four years of the military dictatorship installed in 1968, became a reliable source of information, a vehicle of protest, and a mouthpiece of democratic education. Never divining that those responsible for the clandestine publication were women, the military regime was unable to stop it. Uncovering unknown details of the weekly, this paper retrieves the effort made by a small group of middle-class women who did not identify with any political party and had no financial support other than their own limited resources. We suggest that attention be paid to the actors—often from relegated social groups—who keep the spirit of protest alive in countries during long periods of political repression. We show that, contrary to general expectations, those occupying subordinate positions in society may have an advantage in carrying out resistance activities against authoritarian regimes.