We have, admittedly, written our share about Argentina's 1976-1983 dictatorship. A recent turn of events deserves another post: an Argentine federal court on Tuesday ruled unconstitutional former president Carlos Menem's pardon of Jorge Rafael Videla, the first head of that dictatorship. This is the latest step in a re-opening of trials into flagrant human rights abuses (i.e. up to 30,000 killed) during that dictatorship. But what is interesting about this case in a second-order sense is how it affects the other side. Menem's pardon's extended to the leaders of the dictatorship as well as to guerilla chiefs such as Montoneros leaders Fernando Vaca Narvaja, Roberto Perdía and Mario Firmenich--but said guerillas were not affected by the current ruling on the theory that because their crimes (which include the 1970 execution of Pedro Eugenio Aramburu, a former military president of Argentina) were not committed by the state, they didn't amount to high crimes against humanity. Menem not surprisingly criticized the move, and as we've noted before, conservative/reactionary/pro-dictator (you pick your title) writers like the Wall Street Journal's Mary Anastasia O'Grady have been calling for the blood of these former Montonero leaders. While I certainly could never side with repression apologists, this current case raises an interesting question: if you remove the immunity given to one side of a civil war, do you have to remove that same immunity given to the other side as well?
Dinners, Public and Private
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