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A Huge Step for Argentina

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by DrunkCajun, Jun 14, 2005.

  1. DrunkCajun

    DrunkCajun Banned

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    A Huge Step for Argentina

    This, quite frankly, is the best news to come out of Argentina in years as far as I'm concerned. Had this happened 20 years ago there might have been some faith in the system and a stronger, more effective government might have come of it. Thanks to Aeval for passing the story along to me.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050614/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/argentina_human_rights

     
  2. nrabbit

    nrabbit IncGamers Member

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    this sounds good :thumbsup:
    i am not familiar with those dirty wars but 30,000 people missing...i mean wow!
    hope justice will be served
     
  3. DrunkCajun

    DrunkCajun Banned

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    Some more information on the Dirty War:

    Site dedicated to those who have gone missing, some potentially disturbing testimonies from those who were "desaparecido" and later released.


    List of links to some very disturbing and depressing US Embassy memos sent from the embassy in Buenos Aires back to Washington describing testimony and stories from Americans who were taken into custody.


    From Wikipedia:

     
  4. axeil

    axeil IncGamers Member

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    Wow...just wow.

    I'm glad they can finally start moving on such sacks of scum. I read some of the accounts and they're absolutely horrifying. Thank God this evil chapter of human history is almost at an end.
     
  5. Aeval

    Aeval IncGamers Member

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    If only. It amazes me to this day how many mothers don't know what happened to the children they birthed while under arrest, and how many children have absolutely no idea who thier parents truely are.

    It's about time the government started getting more serious.
     
  6. Stevinator

    Stevinator IncGamers Member

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    hmmmmmm, yeah it didn't happen in america so it must not be that important.



    :)
     
  7. DrunkCajun

    DrunkCajun Banned

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    Actually, it did happen in America. See, America is broken up into three parts, North America, Central America, and South America. These events took place in the Southern iteration of America.

    :)
     
  8. KnightFall

    KnightFall IncGamers Member

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    Truely disturbing stuff there DC.

    Why has it taken so long for this to happen though, if issues surrounding it came up in 1998 and 2001 like it says in the article?

    KnightFall
     
  9. DrunkCajun

    DrunkCajun Banned

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    Many reasons. I can remember when I was there around 1993ish there was a faux coup attempt when Menem started talking about putting these people on trial. The military had tanks driving down the highway around the capital. During the 80s, the military stepped down with a lot of reservations--they weren't thrown out so much as they realized they had totally botched things and frankly couldn't handle it anymore, so wanted to pass the buck off on an elected government. They did, however, write themselves into a lot of protections from prosecution, much like Mr. Pinochet in Chile. They also were not hesitant to drive a tank down the streets of the capital brandishing their weapons to remind everyone that they were more than capable of reassuming command of the government if things didn't go their way. Keep in mind that since 1930 Argentina has fluctuated between democracy and military dictatorship in a 10ish year cycle. Just about once a decade the government would switch from one to the other.

    More recently, there has been a lot of pressure on the government from behind the scenes not to do such things. The military is still a powerful force in Argentine politics, albeit from behind the scenes, and corruption is abundant in the government, so really any number of things could have been preventing legislators or judges from making the decisions they wanted to make; bribes are common, and I can recall a minister in the Menem administration "committing suicide". I think the joke that circulated the country after this suicide was "Menem was at the dentist, and his dentist came into the room. "hey, Mr. President, did you hear? So-and-so just committed suicide!" Menem: "Wow, is it three already? We'd better hurry this along!""

    At any rate, bottom line is fear. These people all lived through 10+ years of absolute terror. Someone would get implicated and abducted, and they would torture them in the ways you've read about to get names. As you can imagine, when these people were subjected to such treatment, they spouted off any names they could think of to get the pain to stop--neighbors, friends, professors, family...anyone was prone to getting plucked from their homes in the middle of the night or off the street corner in broad daylight. Even moreso if anyone suspected you of anything.

    The fact that rule of law hasn't really taken firm root in Argentina and moreover, the government officials aren't always held accountable for their actions leads one to be VERY wary of any authority figure. When I lived in Argentina I was always taught to be afraid of the police and to avoid them at all costs, even at the age of 10. I wouldn't have wanted to be one of these judges--I can only imagine the abstention was someone who buckled under unseen pressure. Perhaps he got an envelope in the mail with a picture of his wife and children grocery shopping. Who knows. Kidnappings are also becoming commonplace in Argentina, and as investigations go on it's turning out that those who are committing them tend to be unemployed military or police officers who've been cut. They still have contacts and access to the weapons, and are trained, so they put that training to use kidnapping teenagers for ransom. I can only imagine what they'd do if they realized they or their family members might be threatened by this court decision.

    Bottom line is that I'm utterly shocked this has happened now. The country is in shambles and honestly hasn't had good news come out of it in several years. This, however, is the most hopeful news I've seen in a long time, and not just for the obvious reasons. What it means is that the government is developing a newfound crediblity. For years the Argentine people have been a bitter, cynical bunch, stuck in a country that claimed democracy, freedom, and justice, but treated the 1970s as though it never happened and shouldn't be talked about. It was that family Christmas where Grandpa got drunk and hit Grandma--no one said anything, and afterwards you just didn't mention it. Finally, however, the government has stepped up and asserted itself to deal with the situation, and in doing so has demonstrated a willingness to do something it hasn't shown before--to enforce difficult laws and difficult decisions, despite pressures not to. This decision does more for the credibility and legitimacy of the Argentine government than anything they've done in the last 20 years.
     
  10. KnightFall

    KnightFall IncGamers Member

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    Wow, that's a tale of misery and no mistake. I knew things were bad there but didn't realise quite how awfull things really were.

    Has there not been outside pressure on the Argentinian Government to sort things out? The way world politics are these days I would have thought that would have happened by now...

    KnightFall
     
  11. DrunkCajun

    DrunkCajun Banned

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    There was some, originally, but to be honest when the shift came to begin with from military to democracy, the US, who was the major player in the region at the time, wasn't terribly excited about the shift. To give you an idea, in my studies of the events (which were extensive, as I wrote several semester term papers on the Dirty Wars), I can recall a passage highlighting the party that spontaneously broke out among the military heads in Argentina when news broke that Carter had lost and Reagan was on his way in. Given that, at least in that day, the US did actually consider Latin America an important area, if only as a front in the Cold War, and the fact that the US had turned a blind eye to it all for so long, members of the administration here weren't really the first on the "prosecute the military" bandwagon. They were more concerned about keeping leftists out and not getting dragged into the mess themselves.

    There was certainly pressure, from countries like Spain and France, who had citizens "disappeared" in the mess, but little really came of it. This wasn't something that was going to happen overnight, and the world spotlight had plenty of other things to focus on (end of the Cold War was just around the corner), and eventually it was just hushed and left to fester. The only ones really keeping on the bandwagon were the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, (http://www.madres.org/) who have led a march through the Plaza de Mayo, the park in front of the Presidential Palace, every Thursday since 1977. A good quick summary of them in English: http://www.iisg.nl/collections/madres.html

    They kept the movement alive, and there have been books, movies, and occassional interviews over the years since this happened, but frankly there have been more recent and more "exciting" matters clouding the international focus, and this, along with similar events in Brazil, Peru, Chile, and other South American nations, was written off as one of the side effects of the Cold War. The fact that this hasn't even made headlines in any major news outlets (I've seen it on a few news sites, and read a blurb in the paper this morning, but haven't seen a breath of it on any major news network--MJ is more important, clearly) gives you an idea of how important it's deemed.
     
  12. KnightFall

    KnightFall IncGamers Member

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    All I can say is.. Wow!

    What bravery these women showed in light of what was going on.

    It sounds like the place is a right mess really, do you actually think whats just happened will make much difference though. Because from what you've said and what I've read it seems to me nothing much will change/improve for the people from it. Ok some people might get locked up for things that happened 25 years ago, but what's that to most of the population?

    KnightFall
     
  13. DrunkCajun

    DrunkCajun Banned

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    Let me put it like this--in a country with as many problems as Argentina has, a populace that is 100% cynical and untrusting of the government and it's ability to enforce basic laws and decisions means that the government is often powerless to enact change. If the government can manage to make something of this decision and move forward with it, perhaps put some people in jail, release some records (if they haven't all been destroyed), and do so publicly, they might just regain some trust back. Trust in the government also means a little more respect for authority--if the police went to these military people's houses and arrested them rather than being bribed and letting them escape, who knows, maybe the next time someone gets pulled over for speeding they think twice about bribing the officer to get out of it. Perhaps a few more people decide to pay their taxes.

    Over time, it means that people might have more faith in the court system, might actually care to participate in the democracy (voting is mandatory, but you don't have to vote for a specific set of candidates--I can recall an election a few years ago where a write-in cartoon ostrich took a significant portion of the vote, running on the motto "I don't have arms so I can't steal!"). This won't change things overnight, but I think it might help to arm the Argentine government with some basic tools that are absolutely necessary to running a country, and moreover to dragging a country out of an economic quagmire that's going to mean things get worse before they get better. Basically, it's widely accepted that in order for things to get economically better in Argentina over the long run, things are going to have to get worse first for a few years. With an unemployment rate somewhere around 25%, that's not a happy prospect, and certainly not something a democratically elected government rep wants to be held accountable for. However, if people can begin to trust their politicians and have some faith in the system, perhaps steps can be taken and Argentina can start thinking for the long run rather than trying to find short term bandaids that make enough people happy to get the politicians reelected.
     
  14. KnightFall

    KnightFall IncGamers Member

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    Very good points there, I see what you mean.

    Hopefully somethings will change for the people there, it must be a nightmare living under those conditions. It is very hard to convince people enough has changed to gain the trust of the public though I imagine.

    And I'd vote for the ostrich with such a great slogan!

    KnightFall
     

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