My motion of privilege, that we have brought up in this parliamentary work, is about denouncing an international genocide. When one is asked in what way is an MP, the chamber of deputies of the nation affected? An international genocide! A crime against humanity perpetrated against the people of Aleppo, Syria, which we want to condemn. And this flag represents not the dictator Bashar al Assad, but the rebellious people of Aleppo against the dictatorship of Bashar al Assad. What has been named the Guernica of the 21st century, where bombs condemned by the international community have been dropped… on hospitals, schools… Where the civilian population has been murdered, [where] 95 per cent of all physicians have fled. Aleppo has been put under siege, food and medicine were not allowed to enter. The dictatorship of Bashar al Assad, the bombardment from Russia with the complicity of the United States and the complicity of the European Union, because this is a people that rose up against dictatorship as part of the Arab Spring in 2011 and [the situation] transformed into a civil war, provoking a humanitarian catastrophe. Therefore, we defend the people of Aleppo, the rebellious people of Syria against Bashar al Assad, against the bombardment and imperialist interference. And we are demanding that the national government break all diplomatic relationships with this dictatorship, corner the dictator and side with the rebellious peoples struggling with dignity against dictatorships in the world. Thank you, Mr. President.
This post was published at the excellent Jacobin Magazine blog.
Are we done yet? Do we have to endure another full day of self-congratulation at Obama’s personal endorsement of same-sex marriage? His announcement was heralded with as much praise as last summer’s legalization of gay marriage in New York. And that was, you know, actual legislation.
This is hardly surprising given the fact that marriage equality is designed to distract liberal consciences and give Democrats political cover to gut social services. While the passage of gay marriage enjoyed the support of prominent campaign donors, it was directly preceded by cuts to homeless shelters for queer youth. It’s a campaign season bait-and-switch — winning votes without making real concessions.
Elliott Abrams, a former high level State Department official during the 1980s, testified last week that the Reagan administration knew that Argentina’s military junta was systematically stealing babies from murdered and jailed democracy activists and giving them to right-wing families friendly to the regime.
In a meeting with the Junta’s ambassador in Washington on December 3, 1982, Abrams suggested that the dictatorship could “improve its image” by creating a process with the Catholic Church of returning the children, some of whom were born in secret torture chambers, to their legitimate families. The contents of this meeting were recorded in a memo Abrams wrote, which was declassified by the State Department in 2002 and is now a key piece of evidence against former junta officials in this high profile trial.
Yes, it’s the economy. Since Argentina defaulted on $95bn of international debt nine years ago and blew off the International Monetary Fund, the economy has done remarkably well. For the years 2002-2011, using the IMF‘s projections for the end of this year, Argentina has chalked up real GDP growth of about 94%. This is the fastest economic growth in the western hemisphere – about twice that of Brazil, for example, which has also improved enormously over past performance. Since President Fernandez or her late husband Nestor Kirchner, who preceded her as president, were running the country for eight of these nine years, it shouldn’t be surprising that voters will reward her with another term.
The benefits of growth don’t always trickle down, but in this case, the Argentine government has made sure that many did. Poverty and extreme poverty have been reduced by about two thirds since their peak in 2002, and employment has increased to record levels. Social spending by the government has nearly tripled in real terms. In 2009, the government implemented a cash transfer program for children that now reaches the households of more than 3.5 million children. It is probably the largest such program, relative to national income, in Latin America.
O’Grady writes that “in Argentina today it is off limits to even mention in public the victims of the country’s left-wing terrorism of the 1970s”.
I’ve lived in Buenos Aires for the last three years and have spoken about the dirty war with Argentines from all walks of life. They are apparently unaware of the taboo O’Grady has fabricated. In fact, everyone talks about the victims of left-wing trade unions and political groups of the 1960s and 1970s. The subject is discussed ad nauseam in the ongoing human rights trials of military and police officials who carried out the state’s clandestine war against opponents. It is written about almost daily in newspapers. It is aired on television programs. Cab drivers, friends, anyone who talks about the days of the dirty war can be expected to mention the victims of O’Grady’s “band of Castro-inspired guerillas who sought to take power by terrorizing the nation”. Sympathy is sometimes expressed, but few stoop to using these victims to justify the atrocities of the military junta. There are exceptions. The dictator himself, Jorge Rafael Videla – who is serving a life sentence in prison for kidnapping, torture, murder, and trafficking in newborns – has an extremely soft spot in his heart for the victims of the guerillas. And he never fails to publicly defend his attempt to rid Argentina of the scourge.
At a cocktail party a few weeks ago, a young lady from Mississippi studying here in Buenos Aires asked: ”Where are the Padres?”
A good question. The Madres—the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo—are everywhere. With their signature white head kerchiefs, they are the mothers of youths who were tortured and killed by the terrorist military dictatorship that lasted from 1976 until 1983 and disappeared an estimated 30,000 people in Argentina. The fathers, however, have been largely invisible.
Except one: Nestor Kirchner, president of Argentina from 2003 to 2007, who passed away October 27.
Kirchner was too young, of course, to qualify as an actual father. In fact, as a youth he was a militant leftist and could easily have been disappeared himself. When he became president, 20 years after the restoration of democracy in Argentina, the dictators and their lackeys were leading the good life, protected by an amnesty. Kirchner pushed the government and the courts to shake off their laissez-faire treatment of the mass murderers who had set aside all concept of law and decency to destroy mostly young student and labor militant activists.
Julio Lopez, Luciano Arruga, Silvia Suppo – three names recently listed the doleful roll call of Argentina’s victims of state repression, a legacy left over from the bloody 1976-1983 military dictatorship. These three names have left painful reminders of the paradigm of disappearances and of how the social stigma of the crimes committed during the dictatorship has scarred Argentina and other nations which survived brutal military dictatorships.
Argentines recently commemorated the four-year anniversary of the disappearance of Julio Lopez with a demand that the torture survivor and human rights activist be found alive. After four years of searching, marches, and impunity, the cries for justice and punishment seem to have found no response from an indifferent government which claims to defend human rights. Activists also demanded information on the whereabouts of Luciano Arruga, a 16-year-old who was forcefully disappeared in January, 2009, and called for an investigation into the 2010 murder of Silvia Suppo, a human rights activist and torture survivor testifying in a landmark human rights trial. Continue reading “Longstanding Impunity Challenges Argentina: 4 Years Without Julio Lopez”