[Marxism] Argentina's Left Serves Up Revenge Cold (WSJ)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Jul 28 15:09:47 MDT 2006

(Fidel's speech at the summit was short: about 45 minutes and was
broadcast here on Cuban television. He gave a full-length regular
speech at the outside rally in Cordoba, but contrary to this nasty
attack-dog commentary, Fidel's speech AT THE SUMMIT was quite short.	
You can see from this, of course, that Cuba and Fidel Castro today
are totally and completely isolated, without a friend anywhere on
the continent. Notice you get a radically different impression in
his commentary than they tried to give in the Sliami Herald where
they tried to portray a split between Fidel and Nestor Kirchner.
So far, there's been no financial scandals proven, I think none 
even alleged, against Kirchner. Notice O'Grady's effort to give us
the impression Fidel is a doddering old man who can barely get up
out of his wheelchair. I notice not much coverage was given in the
international media to his SECOND speech on Wednesday, in Holguin,
in the evening, which was longer than the one in the morning, so do
not fret about how long Fidel Castro can talk. And remember, these
talks are given standing up the entire time. Just like Communism
has been declared dead and buried over and over and over since 1948,
so Fidel Castro, too, has been written off. Prematurely, as it here
seems obvious. By the way, both the morning and the evening rallies
Wednesday in Cuba ended with the singing of the Internationale.)

Argentina's Left Serves Up Revenge Cold
July 28, 2006; Page A15

"If you ask me what's going on in Chile, 
I would honestly say that a revolutionary process 
is taking place . . . A process is not yet a revolution."
	Fidel Castro
	University of Concepción, Chile
	November 18, 1971

Late on a Tuesday afternoon two weeks ago, a flurry of messages hit
my inbox looking to confirm the gossip that Cuban dictator Fidel
Castro was dead. The old man, who reportedly has Parkinson's disease
and some dementia, turns 80 on Aug. 13 and hadn't been visible in
public for several weeks. His passing seemed plausible.

As it turned out, Castro was still alive -- and well enough to
travel. Last week he surfaced in Córdoba, Argentina -- at a summit of
Southern Cone leaders -- pushing his half-century-old revolutionary
agenda. Of course, he was not up to his old self. His speech was only
three hours long.

Castro's decision to take the long trip to Argentina despite his
frailties is instructive. After Venezuela and Bolivia, the land of
the gauchos is the South American country with the best prospects of
yielding a payoff on the investment he has made toward repression for
more than 50 years.

Argentine President Néstor Kirchner and his government, which
includes former left-wing terrorists from the 1970s, have been
consolidating power and fomenting societal hatreds in the best 
Castro tradition for the past three years. Castro's oil-rich ally,
Venezuela, is now underwriting the effort. The region's democrats are
right to be worried.

This is not about left-right politics. Brazil and Chile have
left-of-center presidents but also have the institutional checks and
balances that limit the power of the executive and preserve
pluralism. In Argentina, those restraints have been removed thanks to
a power grab by Mr. Kirchner on the back of the 2002 economic

Mr. Kirchner has already packed the Argentine judiciary, and is
expected to win passage soon of a bill that will grant the executive
unprecedented power over Congress in federal-spending decisions.
Inflation pressures are building even with price controls, and as a
July 18 Goldman Sachs Emerging Markets research comment noted,
"Instead of trying to restore its relationship and credibility with
the broad capital markets, the government keeps on relying on
Venezuela as its main credit supplier."

Yet it is Mr. Kirchner's jihad against the military for its role in
the "Dirty War" that is most worrying. Rather than leading as a
healer, the president seems bent on reviving the conflict and
violence of the 1970s. By prosecuting officers who fought against 
the Castro-inspired violence 30 years ago, he is also purging the
military of those who don't agree with him.

As this column noted on March 25, 2005, a number of Mr. Kirchner's
political pals -- in his cabinet, in Congress and acting in an
advisory capacity -- played direct or indirect roles in the bombings,
robbing, killing and kidnapping of civilians that provoked the
military takeover of the government on March 24, 1976. From May 1973
to June 1975 there were more than 5,000 terrorist attacks. The chaos
and bloodletting was so atrocious that the constitutional government
issued an executive order to the army in early 1975 to "annihilate"
the subversives. According to newspaper accounts, when the military
took over the government, Argentine society was greatly relieved.
Tragically, the military went on to use extreme measures to restore
order. In 1983 civilian government returned.

As Argentina emerged from the ashes of civil war, President Raúl
Alfonsín passed a 1986 law providing a statute of limitations for
military crimes during the dictatorship and a 1987 law that
recognized the "due obedience" of lower-ranking officers. President
Carlos Menem later issued a blanket pardon to both sides.

The trouble for Castro and Mr. Kirchner is that their side lost. 
Or to put it another way, democracy was restored. Since 2003 Mr.
Kirchner has been seeking retribution for the injuries sustained by
his allies, the friends of Fidel.

The first step he took was to abrogate the 1986 and 1987 laws.
According to Argentine human-rights lawyer Alfredo Solari, Mr.
Kirchner's federal judges have since imprisoned 205 members of the
military, the majority of whom were low-ranking officers during the
dictatorship. Yet the president has never sought justice for the
victims of terrorism. Nor did he reverse the pardon that Mr. Menem
granted convicted terrorists, including Mario Eduardo Firmenich, a
founder of the Montonero guerrilla group whose attacks on a civilian
population were clearly crimes against humanity.

This is making elements of Argentine civil society unhappy, and some
are pushing back. The Argentine Association of Victims of Terrorism
and the United Argentina Association have each filed a case in two
separate international human-rights venues demanding accountability
for the Soviet, Palestinian and Cuban-backed terrorism that claimed
more than 1,500 innocent lives from 1969-1979. The former filed in
Geneva at the U.N. Human Rights Committee while the latter filed in
Washington at the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.

Mr. Solari, who is legal counsel for both NGOs, argues that it is
unjust to prosecute the military "as if the rest of the country
simply watched what happened through a window." Culpability, the
cases submit, also lies with the guerrilla groups, the political
parties that backed them, the civilian government that gave the order
to "annihilate" them, and Messrs. Alfonsín and Kirchner, who have
ignored international law in reaching a lasting peace.

Mr. Solari emphasizes that reconciliation cannot be achieved in an
environment where one side is permitted to "legally" pursue revenge.
Such injustice will only nurture continuing conflict. Instead, he
says, the state has the responsibility to follow Protocol II of the
Geneva Convention, which stipulates that once "hostilities cease,
authorities in power will try to grant the broadest amnesty possible
to those who participated in the armed conflict." He maintains that
under those circumstances all Argentines would be ready to forgive.
"Young Argentine people don't need any more retaliation, hatred,
revenge or to inherit their parents' war," he says.

But that supposes that Mr. Kirchner and Castro want peace, justice
and democracy. Judging from their rhetoric, that's hard to fathom.

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