Posts Tagged 'Argentina'

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The judgement held that a now repealed law which meant that time spent on remand should count double when computing the time  to be served on conviction should apply to those serving sentences for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



Pope Francis 1 and the dictatorship in Argentina

So was Pope Francis I an accomplice of the 1976-1983 dictatorship in Argentina? It’s impossible to be sure but  on the basis of the evidence before us the  accusation looks like bullshit. The government has made great efforts to find something that would gravely compromise him, without much success. Of course as a prominent Jesuit at the time he did have to make nice with the generals, as did everyone else. But if Argentine people are going to have to say sorry for what they did between 1976 and 1983 when the queue to do so is formed he’s going to be standing well behind many members and supporters of the government.

Bergoglio’s chief sin in the eyes of the government has been his refusal to chant praise of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández and not support it in its struggle with the farming sector in 2008.  Had he proved a bit more compliant with the wishes of our current secular saviors then they’d be hailing him as a hero of the struggle for human rights in Argentina.

It’s also important to remember that his chief accuser is Horacio Verbitsky,  a prominent  terrorist in the 1960s and 1970s and now a kind of strategist in the shadows for the government. In theory,  Verbitsky is  a journalist but in fact he is someone with full access to the state intelligence services, so you’d imagine that if they had anything serious on him it would have come to light by now.

The nub of the allegations is that Bergoglio failed to protect two of his subordinates in the Jesuit order,  the   priests Orlando Yorio and  Francisco Jalics, who were kidnapped and tortured by the regime in May, 1976. But protect them how?  By the time the men were kidnapped  the armed forces had already taken full control of the country and were conducting a campaign of repression unprecedented in its savagery in Argentina’s history. And it was a campaign that was no respecter of the cloth; it was eventually to take the lives of two bishops, Angelleli and Ponce de Léon. So the idea that a word from Bergoglio could have protected the two priests from the blood drenched psychopaths of the Argentine Navy is rather fanciful.

The evidence doesn’t suggest that Bergoglio behaved either heroically or ignobly but rather that, like most people would do  in such circumstances, he tried to keep his head down and not get swept away  by the horror rolling across the country at the time.

A final point, in the discussion regarding the very real complicity of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church with the dictatorship, it tends to be forgotten that the hierarchy isn’t the Church, the Church is all the faithful. Many of the leaders and foot soldiers of the “Montoneros”  terrorist organization were devout Catholics and were heavily influenced by liberation theology.

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