Archive for the 'Argentina' Category

Rodolfo Walsh: Revolutionary Anti-Zionist  

A few lines about Rodoldo Walsh written for The Z Word, back in 2009.


The memory of Rodolfo Walsh, journalist, author, political activist and revolutionary, is venerated with notable fervor among broad sectors of progressive opinion in Argentina today. No speech condemning the 1976 military coup is complete without a quote from Walsh’s “Open Letter to the Military Junta.” He is widely regarded as having provided an example of personal and journalistic heroism by setting up a clandestine news agency to defeat military censorship at the height of the campaign of state terrorism launched by the armed forces when they took power in a coup on March 24th, 1976. His reputation has been further enhanced by information that has come to light in recent years regarding his criticism of  the strategy of the leadership of the Montoneros, the principle armed wing of revolutionary left wing Peronism – a force of which he himself was an active member.

 A less remarked upon aspect of Walsh’s life is his evolution from youthful activism in the ultra rightwing and virulently antisemitic Alianza Libertadora Nacionalista to a radical anti-Zionism which, while it disavowed traditional antisemitism, rejected the exercise of national rights by Jews and thus bears comparison with current ant-Zionist discourses which see Israel as a uniquely illegitimate and evil state. The bulk of this essay is concerned with his writing on these matters; a brief historical and biographical sketch placing Walsh in the context of his country’s history is first necessary.

Walsh was born on January 9th, 1927 in the province of Río Negro. On March 25th, 1977, he was murdered by an armed gang on a street  corner in the city of Buenos Aires. His assailants were all members of the national security forces. Their intention was to kidnap, torture and kill him, thereby adding him to the list of thousands who suffered a similar fate during the military dictatorship which ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983.

Perón and After

As a young man, Walsh was an active supporter of the ultra-right wing and virulently antisemitic Alianza Libertadora Nacionalista. In 1955 he celebrated the military coup that brought down the government of Juan Domingo Perón, whose years in power were marked by the extension of a wide range of social benefits to the urban and  rural working class and the foundation of a Peronist political identity which has marked Argentine political life to this day. Nevertheless, by the time he died, he had embraced revolutionary left wing Peronism – an interpretation of Peronism which saw it as the only viable path to socialism in Argentina – to the extent of joining the Montoneros, its principle armed wing.

Walsh was an early and brilliant exponent of what later came to be called New Journalism and his Operación Masacre is a classic of that genre. It is the story of the June 1956 slaughter of a group of civilians by the military government of the day. The victims were suspected of plotting to restore the constitutional government of Perón, which had been toppled the year before. The massacre was botched and the identification and interviewing of one of the survivors by Walsh was the first step in the construction of a book that has become a landmark both in the history of Argentine literature and journalism. Over the course of his career he also wrote two other classics of investigative journalism – El Caso Satanowsky and ¿Quién mató a Rosendo?   – as well as short stories  and plays.

Peronism was proscribed on the downfall of its founder in 1955 and, with the exception of a couple of brief and half-hearted experiments with a limited form of democracy, the country was ruled by the armed forces until 1973. The working class that had supported Perón, and had received an unprecedented level of social and labor rights in return for its loyalty, did not meekly resign itself to his overthrow and exile.

There was civil resistance to military rule from the outset. The Cuban Revolution had a galvanizing effect on many on the left in Argentina. As the 1960s wore on the war in Vietnam, anti-colonial struggles in other countries and the atmosphere of revolution on  European and North American university campuses led some to see the long proscribed Peronism as a force that had the potential to become a national liberation movement and bring socialism to Argentina. Not a few of those who did so had, like Walsh, cheered the armed forces when they toppled Perón. However, they were sickened by years of military rule and were now joined by younger people who rejected their parents’ bitter anti-Peronism.  Liberation theology and the radicalization of certain sectors of the Catholic Church also played their part in the growing tide of opinion that favored armed resistance to the succession of obtuse and violent generals that were running the country.

A great variety of revolutionary organizations, both Peronist and non-Peronist, emerged in Argentina during this period. Walsh is believed to have joined one of them, the Fuerzas Armadas Peronistas(FAP), in 1970. This organization later merged with Montoneros, the largest Peronist revolutionary group, and the one that was eventually to absorb the bulk of the others. Curiously, it’s  easier to say who and what the Montoneros were against – the land-owning oligarchy, capitalism, imperialism, the conservative and right wing elements of Peronisn – than what they were actually for, state socialism on the Cuban model doesn’t seem to be an unfair guess. The armed forces finally permitted free elections in 1973. Héctor Campora, Perón’s nominee, was elected to the presidency by a landslide. He resigned shortly afterwards to pave the way for the election of Perón himself, who had returned to country after 18 years in exile. Perón died in 1974 and was succeeded by his widow, María Estela Martínez de Perón, a woman who was plainly unfit to hold the office that fate had thrust on her. She presided over a weak government, elements of which supported far-right death squads which went on a killing spree aimed at those whom they perceived as leftists. The armed forces were also given ever greater scope to suppress Peronist and Marxist revolutionary groups. Even so, they quickly tired of the few restrictions placed on them and took power in  a coup d’etat on March 24th, 1976

The campaign of state terror launched after the 1976 coup was unprecedented in Argentina and led to the disappearance, torture and death of many thousands of people.  Thousands more were forced into exile. The various revolutionary groups, already struggling when the military came to power, were quickly crushed.

Walsh participated in the armed resistance to the military government but it didn’t take long for him to perceive that the struggle was hopeless and that fantasies and self-delusion of the leadership of the Montoneros were sending hundreds of activists to pointless and horrible deaths.  However, he remained loyal to the organization to the end and was killed in a shootout with a gang of security force members while attempting a clandestine meeting with another member of it.

 Walsh in the Middle East

Walsh travelled to Beirut, Algiers Damascus and Cairo on assignment for the newspaper Noticias in 1974; a consideration of his dispatches will form the basis for the rest of this essay.

The first three dispatches consist of a summary history of Zionism and the circumstances surrounding the birth of Israel, sprinkled with quotes from Palestinian refugees that Walsh encountered in Lebanon.  He starts by explaining what he sees as the fundamental illegitimacy of Israel. Despite his subsequent recourse to Marxism to explain the rise of Zionism, this pereceived illegitimacy  remains fundamental to his analysis.

First, they say, there were the Canaanites, then the Hebrews. The birth of Christ was still a thousand years in the future when Saul founded his kingdom, which later split into two parts. 2700 years ago the kingdom of Israel was defeated by the Syrians. 2560 years ago the kingdom of Judea was liquidated by the Assyrians and in the year 70 the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. These are the historical precedents of the state of Israel, its property deeds to Palestine.

The Shah of Iran could flourish similar deeds based on the Persian invasion five centuries before Christ, the Greek Colonels could point to the occupation of Palestine by Alexander in the year 331 and Pope Paul VI could recall the Catholic Crusaders who founded the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1099.     

As I said in the context of a different discussion,

National sovereignty and rights are not like the title deeds to your house. If startling new archaeological evidence  was to demonstrate that some Roman emperor had ceded not only the land occupied by  Israel today but Gaza and the West Bank too, to the Jewish people for all eternity,  could that be taken to mean the extinction of Palestinian national rights? Of course it wouldn’t. Who occupies a given territory, who exercises sovereignty there, how the people identify themselves and what they want are all factors that must be taken into account when examining the political history of any region. However, there is no “originally” in history, no virgin moment when everyone was in their place and there was a place for everyone; there is only a certain state of affairs at a certain date and a certain balance of forces, with a scaffolding of class, national, ethnic and religious interests, yearnings and desires underlying them.

Under the heading “A late fruit of capitalism”, Walsh goes on to base himself on Abram Leon – the Jewish Marxist who wrote “The Jewish Question” and who was later exterminated during the Holocaust – in his examination of the roots of Zionism.

“Zionism, which claims to find its origins in events two thousand years ago, is in fact a product of the highest stage of capitalism.” In this phase all the nationalisms of Europe built their own states and no longer needed the Jewish bourgeoisie which helped to build them and which now constituted a dangerous competitor for native capitalism. In these countries antisemitic capitalism “suddenly” sprung up and Jews which had been integrated in them for centuries were abruptly  transformed into undesirable foreigners. They had, as Leon says “as little interest in returning to Palestine as the American millionaire of today.”

The 19th century persecution of Jews affected the middle more than the upper class. The best known members of the latter were to attain a new integration by way of international financial capital. Those persecuted Jews who saw in capitalism the real cause of their suffering joined the revolutionary movements of their real countries. Zionism, obviously, did no such thing and shaped itself into a petty bourgeois ideology which was nevertheless encouraged by those bankers who saw the [revolutionary] wave coming and wanted their “brothers” to be as far away from them as possible.

There’s quite a mixture of ideas here. Crafty Jewish bankers still stalk the stage, here not defrauding innocent Christians but rather their own poor brothers, in an attempt to divert them from the duty of all good and acceptable Jews – namely, to join the revolutionary Marxist movements in their own “real” countries. Walsh also takes an absurdly sanguine few of the condition of Jews in pre-capitalist Europe and seems to think that people have one “real” country to which they are bound by a sort of metaphysical bond. With that in mind it would be interesting to know what he made of the decision of his Irish forbearers to move to a country an immense distance from their own, with which they had no previous cultural connection one, two or ten millennia previously and who settled on land whose previous population had been exterminated to make room for them

As he sets it out here, Walsh’s view of Jews certainly represents a step forward from the traditional antisemitism of his youth.  Not all Jews are to be despised; only those who seek to exercise national rights and refuse to see the light of international revolution. Without straining ourselves unduly, we can here perceive a parallel with current “anti-Zionist but not antisemitic” discourse which is prepared to accommodate those Jews who reject Zionism but which spares nothing in its attacks on those who don’t.

Having dealt with what he sees as the rotten origins of Zionism, Walsh goes on to describe the early Jewish emigration to Palestine in terms that suggest it constituted an injustice unique both in its nature and its degree. When he gets to the First World War – “which gave a great opportunity to the Zionists” – he informs his readers that “the World Zionist Organization participated in the drafting of” the Balfour Declaration. This affirmation comes at the end of a paragraph and it would appear that he expects that his readers will be surprised and shocked by this revelation. But why should there be anything unusual or surprising about a Jewish organization trying to advance its goals in negotiations with one of the great powers of the day? Walsh also describes the promises made by the British to the Arabs during the First World War but seems to find them entirely unproblematic; indeed he chides the British for going back on them. Walsh, in short, is yet another commentator astounded by Jews behaving normally.

Walsh goes on to describe the UN resolution authorizing the foundation of Israel as having been passed solely by resort to pressure from the United States upon “docile Asian and Latin American countries.” And, of course, there would have to be some mention of money: “A Yankee business bought the vote of an African before the gaze of whole world.” Israel’s War of Independence is described as a series of atrocities and massacres carried out by its armed forces (organized by members of the armed forces of the United States!), massacre of innocent Palestinians follows massacre of innocent Palestinians and there is scarcely any mention of the existence or activities of another side in the conflict. Naturally, no consideration is given to whether that other side’s behavior  was at all times in accordance with the laws of war.

After making unblushing use of “Zionism is not only the enemy of the Arabs; it is the enemy of all mankind” to title his seventh dispatch, in his eighth, Walsh goes on to consider the question of terrorism and the possible justification for it.

Terror is a form of struggle that has been used by all revolutions […] its humanity or inhumanity depends on its ends. Our May Revolution [a reference to the first stage in the foundation of Argentina] was terrorist. When we bear this in mind we can refocus the problem of terrorism our view of the problem of terrorism in the Middle East. […] The objective of Palestinian terrorism is to recover the homeland which was stripped from them. In the most questionable of their operations that element of legitimacy remains. Israeli terrorism aims to oppress a people, condemn it to misery and exile. Even in the most reasonable of its “reprisals”, that original sin appears.

Walsh certainly cannot be accused of  attempting to sugar the pill. All Palestinian terrorist activities are legitimized, at least to some degree, by the original sin of the foundation of Israel, an historical event which he, elsewhere, describes in the dispatches as amounting to genocide of the Palestinians.

This original sin argument, both in relation to the circumstances of Israel’s foundation and its subsequent policy decisions and activities, simply doesn’t resist serious examination. Those who want detailed argumentation on this point can read this article here where I said that,

…there was no original sin and nothing artificial about Israel’s foundation; the violence and what we would now call ethnic cleansing that accompanied it were not in any qualitative sense different from those that accompanied the foundation of many other post-colonial states. To give just one example, the foundation of India and Pakistan in 1947 was accompanied by massive loss of life and huge population exchanges, they subsequently fought two major wars and continue to confront each other, eyeball to nuclear eyeball, over Kashmir. No one seems to consider that this calls the legitimacy of either one into question. On a more general level, there are many existing states that were founded against the wishes of some part of their original population and if we are to regard those states founded with a large number of immigrants or their descendants in their population and without any consideration being given to the wishes of the indigenous population as somehow illegitimate then Israel is only going to be one on a very long list.

It’s also worth remembering that Walsh’s own Argentina, were built on the sort of extermination of existing populations that makes the Palestinian experience in 1948, bad though it was, somewhat pallid by comparison.

Furthermore, Walsh’s approach to terrorism, like that of many commentators today, leaves out the question of whether or not it is likely to achieve its stated ends. Israel has been subjected to terrorist attacks since the day of its foundation. Sixty years later, it is stronger than ever. It should have been obvious, even in 1974, that just as no amount of Israeli military action against Fatah or negation of the Palestinian people’s existence was going to make them disappear, similarly no amount of terrorist attacks on Israelis was going to soften their resolve to exercise their right to self-destination.

Lastly, if anything is permissible as long as it is on behalf of a good cause, any basis for criticizing the actions of one’s enemy is lost. An adversary’s belief that his cause is just is as strong as one’s own. Without an explicit or implicit notion of human rights that cannot be violated no matter what the supposed justification, the condemnation of torture and mass murder in Walsh’s justly celebrated Open Letter to the Military Junta would lack any moral force and be little more than the loser bleating for mercy. Strange, indeed, therefore that Walsh was willing to grant a moral blank check to one party in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Walsh Assessed

It would be quite wrong to describe the mature Rodolfo Walsh as being antisemitic in the traditional jack booted sense. He left that behind in his youth and had many Jewish comrades in the revolutionary Peronist organizations in which he was involved. However, his dispatches from the Middle East reveal the continuing presence of at least one classic antisemitic stereotype: the rich and cunning Jew. The only difference in this case is that this representation of the Jew is dedicated to duping his own people into participating in a genocidal Zionist project, rather than swindling honest Christians and seducing their daughters.

His dispatches are also pervaded by a sense of the Zionists as being almost preternaturally gifted historical actors, duping the gullible, whispering in the ears of the powerful, manipulating the superpowers of the day, biding their time and, when the moment comes, acting with unlimited savagery. There is nothing innately antisemitic about this, but it does rather come across as a repackaged view of the traditional antisemitic take on Jews as a whole and not just those who elect to become Zionists.

Finally, if one is prepared to accept Jews as equals only insofar they do not exercise certain rights, principally that of self-determination, which are taken for granted in the case of other peoples, then, quite simply, they are not being treated as equals at all. But that, as we know, is the core problem of anti-Zionism, long-established and still continuing.


All  direct quotes from, Rodolfo Walsh: El Violento Oficio De Escribir, Obra Periodística 1953-1977. Ed. Daniel Link. Planeta, Buenos Aires. 1998

Also consulted, Rodolfo Walsh, La Palabra y La Acción. Eduardo Jozami. Norma. Buenos Aires. 2006


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


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

“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.

Una conversación acerca del CONICET

¿Alguna vez se discutió el número exacto de investigadores que se necesita en cada área de las ciencias y humanidades en Argentina?
“¿Cómo se te ocurre pensar en términos de ‘necesitar’? Argentina necesita todos los investigadores que se puedan formar en todas las áreas para poder desarrollarse como nación y atender las necesidades de su gente, ¿no es una obviedad acaso?
Ok, ¿Cómo funciona eso exactamente?
“Tu pregunta es el reflejo de una mentalidad colonizada por el neoliberalismo….”
Claro, entonces no podemos ni siquiera hacer una estimación aproximada de lo que el país necesita. Solo hay que formar más y más investigadores y confiar en que de una u otra forma esto contribuye al bien común. Cualquier recorte que se haga en el número de investigadores que se nombran cada año está necesariamente mal.
“Bueno, yo no lo diría así pero si insistís, sí. En cualquier caso, si no permitimos que todos los investigadores debidamente cualificados que quieren hacer carrera lo hagan en el CONICET, se van a ir a trabajar afuera”
¿Y qué tendría de malo? Pueden tener oportunidades y hacer avances que no podrían hacer en Argentina. Podrían volver después y trabajar acá, y si son realmente brillantes lo que queremos es que trabajen con otra mentes brillantes para desarrollar todo su potencial, no? ¿O acaso imaginamos que en Argentina hay posibilidades de hacer investigación de avanzada en todas las áreas y en cualquier momento? Quizás deberíamos enfocarnos en las áreas en las que somos especialmente buenos y tratar de avanzar por ese lado…Se me ocurre, es solo una idea eh…
“Pero queremos que los investigadores argentinos trabajen para el desarrollo de Argentina, no el de Francia o EEUU.”
¿Y eso no sugiere la necesidad de algún tipo de cálculo de medios y objetivos acerca del número de investigadores que requiere cada área, los objetivos que deberían alcanzar en cada área de desarrollo del país, etc.? Digo, publicar X cantidad de papers por año está muy bien, pero ¿cuál es el beneficio que obtiene Argentina cuando los papers se escriben en La Plata en relación a si se esbriben en New York, Dublin o donde sea?
“Mirá, se doctoraron cientos y cientos de investigadores, y dado el contexto político de los últimos años, todos tenían expectativas razonables de entrar al CONICET y hacer carrera ahí. Ahora no les podemos decir ´perdón pero sabés qué, este año va a entrar menos gente’, sería injusto”.
La vida es injusta y las políticas de gobierno cambian, sobre todo en Argentina. Todos sabemos que la gente que se doctora en Argentina es de clase media, media alta y alta. Son personas que podrían haberse pagado sus estudios universitarios pero que no lo tuvieron que hacer porque la universidad en este país es gratuita. Van a estar bien. No creemos que lo único que se puede hacer con un doctorado es entrar al CONICET, no? ¿Y por qué jóvenes de clase media para arriba deberían tener derecho a una carrera garantizada en el CONICET si ya tienen título de posgrado? ¿No deberíamos empezar por dar prioridad, por ejemplo, al derecho a terminar la escuela primaria, antes que nada?
Enjuague y repita x 500

Pablo Trapero and the Great Secret of Argentina

El Clan  is a  flawed movie in many respects: some incomprehensible music choices, poor political contextualization for non-Argentine viewers, confusing flashbacks (or forwards, who knows?? ) and much more besides.
However, it’s saved by the fact that it throws light  on the Great Secret of Argentina: the persistence of the deep state regardless of what government is in power (an amalgam of security forces, spies, elements of peronism, elements of the legal system; all working in collaboration with ordinary criminals) and it also hints at the pervasiveness of surveillance. 
Its other virtue is its treatment of the issue of class both in the way it satirizes the credulity and stupidity of the San Isidro  cheto, rugbier class and signals the tensions in its relations with those a couple of of rungs below them who feel entitled to the same privileges but know they will never enjoy them.

Freedom and Human Rights in Argentina in 2014

So I arrive at Ezeiza this morning after a thirteen and a half hour flight from Frankfurt, a lengthy layover there and a previous flight from the UK. I get to the head of the immigration queue; the Stasi apprentice in the booth scans my passport and national ID document. He looks at the address on the latter and says “Do you live there?”, “Of course”, I lied shamelessly, if you are not an Argentine national it’s a shocking pain in the arse to change your legal address and, in any case, what need has the state to know where I live? After all, its paid intellectual corps de ballet never tires of defending Assange and Snowden and freedom from government snooping, in other countries of course, but still.

“Which barrio is it?” asks the Heydrich wannabee. I tell him. Then he reads out the address and asks “Between what street and what other street?” I haven’t lived there for ages but I nailed the first one easily, the second took a few agonising seconds to come up from the depths of my stress, tiredness and clonazepam addled mind but come it did.

Satisfied, the would-be Mielke indicated where I should look to have my iris scanned and where I should lay my thumb to have its pattern recorded, a performance that is now repeated every time you enter and leave the country. Enter and LEAVE, every motherfucking person, EVERY motherfucking time, regardless of nationality or anything else. Your thumbprint taken and your iris scanned. And we go along with this like sheep. And when the government boasts of Argentina being a beacon of human rights we kind of believe it, even though we don’t support the government, it’s against a long departed dictatorship after all.

What is done with that information? Officially we have no idea but anyone who is not an idiot knows that it is swept up into the maw of the SIDE and the intelligence branches of the numerous other security forces. To do exactly what the fuck they like with it. And to share it with their pals in the private security “security” sector, of course.

And no, it doesn’t seem relevant to me that they may do the same or similar in the USA or wherever. I don’t give a tinker’s fuck about what they do there. I live HERE. And it ill behooves the “anti-imperialist” hordes to use what the USA does or doesn’t do as an example for us to follow.

This is freedom. This is human rights in Argentina in 2014.

Footnote: When I left the UK the previous morning I was only asked for my passport by Lufthansa employees.

A note on the death of Videla

He was a very bad bastard: ultra-Catholic, anti-Semite, murderer and torturer of thousands. So good riddance. However, he was never, in the normal meaning of the term, a dictator. In 1976 the three armed forces rebelled jointly ( a first for them) and formed a “junta”, a committee, to run the country, he was primus inter pares, and that until March 1981, not 1983. It wasn’t a one man show like Pinochet in Chile, or a family affair like the Castros in Cuba.

Also, and this may come as a shock to some, he was tried and jailed for his crimes as long ago as 1985. Menem, the then leader of the movement that currently runs the country, let him go in 1990. On the return of democracy in 1983 the same movement’s presidential candidate – Luder- had endorsed the auto-amnesty the armed forces had awarded themselves before leaving power. So if it was up to them Videla would never even have been tried in 1985.

“But, but, but, it was the same movement –under the heroic leadership of Dr. Néstor Carlos Kirchner – that in 2007 annulled the 1990 amnesty and this allowed him to be tried again. You know that times change, historical learning processes etc.”

Yes, it’s nice that they changed their minds on the dictatorship, decades later, when it was completely safe to do so and without ever giving the slightest explanation of or making any declaration of contrition for their previous support for impunity for some of the worst criminals in the history of the country.

So “historical learning processes” my arse. The Kirchners’ decision to turn on the aging tyrants and torturers was a brilliant political stroke, an exercise in real politik which bought them a stock of political capital that has kept the female half of the combo in power to this day. They’d have raised a statue to Videla and declared him the successor of San Martín and Rosas if they’d thought there was more political mileage in it.

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