Human Rights in Argentina and the 2×1 Decision

A few thoughts on the  big demonstrations yesterday against the Argentine Supreme Courts’s #2×1 judgement.

The judgement held that a now repealed law which meant that time spent on remand should count double when computing the time  to be served on conviction should apply to those serving sentences for crimes against humanity during the 1976-83 dictatorship. There is some excellent legal analysis of the decision here  by  Gustavo Arballo    and more here by  Roberto Gargarella. What interests me here though aren’t the de/merits of the judgement or why the SC judges may have taken it into their heads to rule on this at all  but rather the overwhelming public and political reaction to the judgement. As well as the huge demonstrations yesterday Congress has near unanimously  passed an insta-law which will supposedly stop the judgement from being implemented.

 I  think it’s the result of a number of factors…

A) An inherited feeling of societal guilt, when the dictatorship was killing and torturing  the bulk of the population either quietly approved or decided to keep its trap shut,  now that it’s all long in the past  there’s a tendency to act out chest-thumping public rejection of it all. Anyone would think that the dictatorship was about to be restored.  What was repressed keeps  bubbling back up.

B) The 12 years of Kirchnerismo during which the 76-83 dictatorship was reinvented as an attack on Argentine society by the military with help from the media and some business sectors; in effect as society attacked by entities extraneous to it.

C) A more recent attempt equate 76-83 dictatorship with the Holocaust, complete with talk of “deniers” and “denialism”, a more effective way to hamper reflection on what happened,  why it happened,  and how it happened  in Argentina  between the early 70s and early 80s would be hard to imagine.

D) The fact that being in favourof human rights in Argentina has largely come to mean   the channelling of an atavistic urge to get even with the surviving murderers and torturers and a reimagining of the armed revolutionary groups active in the period as a saintly army of human rights operatives. As well as being false that’s a travesty of their memory.

And finally E),   the current government isn’t peronist, the peronists now hold the copyright on human rights in Argentina and even the fact that the previous administration appointed an army chief who cut his teeth disappearing dissidents and the 100 other complicities of parts of the movement with the dictatorship will change that; the current government is therefore seen as an affront to human rights in itself, regardless of what it does or fails to do.

Finally, for personal reasons  I share the atavistic desire to get even with those who  seized control of the state to murder torture and enrich themselves between 1976 and 1983 in Argentina and I’ll not be sorry if the Supreme Court #2×1 decision is blocked or reversed. But that’s got nothing to do with human rights

 

Di Benedetto

Autobiography

I’ve read and I’ve written. I read more than I write, as is natural; I read better than I write.

I’ve travelled. I’d prefer my books to travel more than me. I’ve worked, I work.

I lack material assets (except the home that I’ll have).

Once, for something I wrote, I won a prize, then another and then… as many as ten for literature, one for journalism and one for film scripts. I once had a scholarship from the government of France and was able to study  a bit  in Paris.

I once wanted to be a lawyer and I didn’t stay wanting to be one, I studied a lot, though never enough.

Later I wanted to be a journalist. I managed to become a journalist. I persevere.

I once went around as a foreign correspondent (for example, the revolution in Bolivia, the one that brought René Barrientos to power).

I wanted to write for the cinema. But in general I’m nothing more than a cinema spectator, and a cinema journalist. I once went to the Berlin Festival and another time to the Cannes one, and another to Hollywood on the day of the Oscars  and another… well, at the Mar del Plata Festival they put me on the International Critics Jury.

I’m Argentine, but I wasn’t born in Buenos Aires.

I was born on the Day of the Dead in the year 22.

Music, for me, that of Bach and Beethoven. And “cante jondo”.

I don’t know how to dance, I don’t know how to swim, I do know how to drink. I don’t have a car.

I prefer the night. I prefer silence.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner Probably Ordered Nisman’s Murder

More leaked transcripts of @CFKArgentina talking about “finishing” deposed spy chief and #Nisman collaborator Stiuso and talking of pressuring judges and prosecutors to do it, using the sort of language that would make a mafia chieftain blanche. In the aftermath of Nisman’s death, I thought that the most likely hypothesis was that she had flown into a rage on hearing the accusations he made against her and that members of her immediate circle, ever anxious to compete for her attention and approval had taken it on themselves to organise the hit. In the light of her recently leaked conversations with Parrilli I now think that she likely didn`t confine herself to cursing Nisman during those fateful summer days in 2015 but rather in the midst of her killing rage she gave a clear instruction to (then Army chief) Milani to kill him and Milani has experience of killing going back to his days as a subaltern in the 76-83 dictatorship. Will any of this ever be proved in a court of law. I doubt it. More details will dribble out over time though. Meanwhile, in the Guardian and New York Times you can read how Macri is just like Trump

Silence

Brutal, brutally long, nearly three hours. Brutal to look at, not only for the scenes of torture but for refusal to go for much in the way of “interesting”, “moving” “beautiful” shots. Hardly any music. No concessions made to the viewer; there are serious matters to be dealt with here, you either concentrate or get up and leave
The film is about issues that almost no one cares about in the secularized West, religious faith: given the silence of God, how can anyone believe? And can you renounce your faith to save your life, or that of another?
Another issue: forgiveness: what does it mean? How many times can you offer it to the same person for doing the same thing?
There’s an element of homoeroticism in the relationship between the young priests and the figure of Jesus Christ.
The question of martyrdom: there are Christians being martyred for their faith in the Middle East today: members of ancient sects presented with the option of martyrdom or death.
Just after the final frame; the film is dedicated to the Christians of Japan and their priests.
The film’s main weakness is language: the Japanese speak their own language among themselves but “Portuguese” (English, in a variety of unlikely accents) to the priests and of course the Portuguese also speak “Portuguese”. I guess though Scorsese would never have got any money to make the film if he’d shot it in Portuguese and Japanese.
Overall: a great artist looking hard at unbearably difficult questions and making no concessions to his soft Western audience. A film that demands repeated viewings, one that might be more deeply understood in some village in Iraq or Syria than in many of the places that it will actually be shown.

The UKSC Ruling on Article 50 and the Future of Northern Ireland

So the GFA and the subsequent agreements based on it were a way of guaranteeing (to the unionists) that NI would stay within the UK but also of guaranteeing to the Irish nationalist people that while they had to stay in (for them) the wrong country, their identity would be respected and NI would be linked to the RoI through a series of cross border talking shops and the role of the RoI state as a guarantor of the GFA.
So everything went relatively OK for a while. Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley developed quite the bromance and later even Mc Guinnness recognized Peter Robinson was doing his best in spite of the backwoods element in his own party.
All this allowed
Sinn Féin to deal with its own internal tensions, centered on the fact that they had settled for administering British rule rather than overthrowing it. Fundamental to this was the increasing irrelevance of the border in the context of ever closer union between the EU nations. The border would still be there but you’d never notice it if you didn’t want to
But Arlene Foster is not Ian Paisley or even Peter Robinson. She has, either through conviction or necessity, reflected the views of the Protestant supremacist elements in her own party. The DUP is basically UKIP in its culture and attitudes. Not an inch! is its attitude to things of symbolic importance to nationalists like giving some sort of legal status to the Irish language. So gradually Sinn Fein tired of this.
And then came the referendum and then the as for cash scandal and then Mc Guinessess’s health problems. And Sinn Fein basically said, “Fuck this for a game of cowboys” and brought down the executive. When this happened the SDLP, the moderate nationalist party in NI called for joint administration of NI by Dublin and London. That’s the SDLP eh, which was probably founded with a helping hand from MI5, back in the day. SF are in danger of being outflanked on their green side by the SDLP.
And now the UK Supreme Court has ruled that regardless of the GFA or anything else, Northern Ireland can be yanked out of the EU without consultation with the NI Assembly, that from the point of view of Brexit it’s no different from Essex. So, all that talk about not reintroducing a hard border etc NI is being dragged much farther away from the rest of Ireland than it was before and the courts have confirmed that there’s nothing the NI Assembly can do about that. And
So what would you do if you were in SF or the SDLP? What would your argument for going back into government with in NI be, given that one of the central planks of the GFA had been kicked away and that the principal unionist party was doing an ever more convincing imitation of being a Protestant/Unionist supremacist movement?
As long as the bulk of the republican people continue to support SF there’ll be no major upsurge in violence. But we’re now in totally uncharted territory and there’s good reason to very concerned.

“That guy has to be killed”: CFK and the intelligence service

In connection with an investigation unrelated to Nisman/AMIA etc. a judge ordered Oscar Parrilli’s phone to be tapped. He’s a long-term fixer/dogsbody for the Kirchners. When Cristina Fernández de Kirchner  fired Stiuso in December 2014  (Nisman collaborator, long-term strongman in the state intelligence service)  she put Parrilli in charge  of the officially recognized spies. Stiuso’s removal was probably the detonator that led to Nisman’s death two years ago. Anyway,   in the leaked call (made after she left office) she phones Parrilli about an interview given by Stiuso and says a couple of interesting things (apart from the comedy value of repeatedly addressing Parrilli as “idiot”:

  1. She tells him to look up the “ the stitch ups… I mean the criminal complaints we made against Stiuso. “
  2. “that guy (stiuso) has to be killed”
  3. She uses the phrase “armamos carpetazos”: intelligence leaks-ops designed to embarrass people opposed to the government

So even if we take point 2 as just a figure of speech, we now have  something we didn’t before; incontrovertible evidence of CFK taking a direct and pro-active role in intelligence matters at the operational level.

Nisman, the Iran Pact and Argentina’s Secret State

Good article this  on the Nisman murder and the pact with Iran. The writer says it’s a black hole which condenses the struggle between truth and lies which characterised the 12 years of kirchnerism in Argentina. It’s that and much more though. The Nisman murder was when the secret machinery of power in Argentina was forced to break cover for a moment and do its work in plain view. The machine is staffed by the state intelligence service and the constellation of legal and unofficial intelligence apparatuses attached to the various police and security forces with which the state is blessed, as well as those of the armed forces, obviously. But it extends beyond them and includes elements from the trade unions, judiciary, the media and political parties too. Its fundamental orientation is peronist and surveillance is primary mode of operation. You collect information on people with a certain level of power because you never know when you’ll need to put them on uder pressure.
This machinery functioned in a particularly ostensible form under the Kirchners but has always been there. Duhalde came to power with its assistance and it was a basic tool of Menemism, Alfonsín was never able to fully control it. And Macri’s administration may yet be fatally compromised by its failure to get to grips with it and his appointment of a corrupt playboy pal to run it.
Its existence is one of the principal reasons why Argentina has never made the progress as a nation that the extent of its human and natural resources would indicate it should have. Until we get to the bottom of who ordered the murder of Nisman and they pay significant personal costs for having done so, then we’ll be living in a significantly weakened democracy, with a class of people who can safely kill when its power is seriously threatened and who can negotiate impunity for the murder of 85 of its citizens.



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