Latin America often regarded as part of the ‘Third World’ has often been in the headlines because of the criminal dictatorships ruling there.
In Argentina, the last episode of such genocide lasted from March 1976 until 1983 and the officially admitted toll of missing people is 30,000. This does not include people who were kidnapped, tortured and killed with no witnesses to report it to the Human Rights organizations. Argentina once more deserves headlines but this time for our refusal to abandon the slogan “Never Again”. If Nuremberg was a symbol of punishment for genocide, Argentina as a nation ought to take the prize for having punished several times the number of those condemned in Germany. In spite of all efforts made by representatives of both majority bourgeois parties, the Radicals and the Peronists, to let military terrorists get away with it, trials have been going on for years and several generals and a Catholic priest were convicted at public trials.
There was a turning point when the Kirchner “dynasty” took over with the explicit mission to put an end to the unruly atmosphere that followed the 2001 crisis. Duhalde tried to achieve this aim by repression but had to leave in a hurry. Five other presidents went in less than a fortnight in office.
Unemployment increased, foreign debt played havoc with finances and IMF recipes were the only law the ruling class respected. Popular assemblies mushroomed all over the country.
Unfortunately, the crisis of revolutionary leadership was also at its highest peak and the proletariat was controlled by trade union bureaucracy. Perhaps the worst aspect of this crisis of our leadership was that most of the left misunderstood completely the nature of this rebellion. Some became more sectarian than ever, others became unbearably opportunistic and all this in the name of Trotskyism. So people moved almost anarchically they knew what they would not have; they could not pose a positive demand and disdained from taking power. So the “que se vayan todos” became the battle cry of angry crowds.1
But there was one feeling that could be satisfied in the short run without spending the money that “creditors of the Fake Foreign Debt” claimed to be theirs: it was the “Nunca Más”.2 So, overnight the Kirchners turned into the great champions of human rights.
Obviously they would not do anything that could hurt the capitalist system itself so dismantling the armed forces was out of the question. Cosmetic modifications had to suffice but they had to be convincing. So ESMA3 was turned over to the Mothers of the May Square to be used as a museum. The portrait of General Videla, head of the coup, was removed from the gallery of presidents of the country, 24 March was declared a holiday so that more people could join the demonstration of all human rights organizations held on every anniversary of the tragic coup d´etat, and the Mothers were invited to the Government House and greatly honoured in the media.
In the meantime the fact that the world economic crisis was more lenient in Latin America than in the central countries of imperialism allowed Mr & Mrs K to spare some of the money to build corrupt and corruptible relations with the most impoverished sectors of our society. This means that they distributed computers in schools where roofs leaked and underpaid teachers tried to teach in overcrowded classrooms; they created patronage “plans” for the unemployed. In short, the entire machinery for seducing the impoverished toiling masses was put to work. All this effort is doomed to fail even if recent electoral results may induce us to think otherwise. Little but repression – with all the risks it entails – now lies between people’s righteous wrath and the government.
Not that repression had ceased altogether at any moment. Political and trade union activists are harassed and imprisoned, the most recent example being oil workers in the southern province of Santa Cruz. People still “vanish”… It is said that they are kidnapped to work in the prostitution business. This is probably true, for as the capitalist rate of profit dwindles, even very respectable bourgeois will commit crime to save their bank accounts.
The difference is that now, every time somebody is missing or inexplicably killed and families demand justice and if only a fake scapegoat appears, more often than not demonstrators bring bunches of parsley. So the “perejilazo” has become a new way of protesting against injustice4 and the reputation of the police is tarnished. They will now find it harder to repress and get away with it.
1 “Out with everybody”
2 “Never again”: in this context it meant no more dictatorship, no more concentration camps, and no more repression.
3 Escuela de la Mecánica de la Armada (Navy School of Mechanics)
4 Parsley- in Spanish perejil is slang for scapegoat. A few years ago a woman belonging to an influential family was murdered at home. A young man of the working class was accused. Neighbours demonstrated carrying bunches of parsley and it began to dawn on public opinion that the police were ready to sacrifice a poor boy to protect the reputation of a rich family. A similar case happened when an 11 year old girl was kidnapped and murdered and demonstrators with parsley frustrated the attempt of having innocent neighbours from being punished for a crime theyhad not committed.