Archive for the 'Argentina' Category

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The judgement held that a now repealed law which meant that time spent on remand should count double when computing the time  to be served on conviction should apply to those serving sentences for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.

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