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August 15, 2009

Meanwhile, In A Civilized Country

By: John Caruso

While we're fruitlessly begging our government to please, please, please prosecute the torturers among us, Argentina is actually doing it:

A former general who headed a notorious detention centre during Argentina's military rule has been sentenced to life in prison for human rights abuses.

Santiago Omar Riveros commanded the Campo de Mayo military barracks on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

He was found guilty of involvement in the 1976 murder of 15-year-old communist youth member, Floreal Avellaneda, who was tortured to death.

Some 30,000 people disappeared or died in Argentina's 1976-1983 "Dirty War".

Riveros's former intelligence chief, Fernando Verplaetsen, was also jailed for 25 years in connection with the boy's killing.

Even if it did take 33 years, these vicious bastards will be spending the rest of their lives looking out through prison bars.  Beautiful.  Thanks yet again to Latin America for giving us a glimpse of what a civilized society looks like.

For comparison, let's take a look at how the United States is currently dealing with one of its most infamous at-large criminals, three decades after his worst crimes:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a speech on July 28 to the U.S.-China Business Council that Kissinger has been a close adviser and praised the former secretary of state for his contributions.

"And on a personal note, let me say that since taking this job, I've relied on the wise counsel of many of my predecessors, and Secretary Kissinger has been among the most generous and thoughtful with his guidance and advice," Clinton said.

Learning at the master's feet.  Brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it?

Maybe this is apples and oranges, though; after all, it's not like Kissinger had any connection with the military junta that tortured that 15-year-old boy to death and murdered thousands of other human beings in Argentina.  Right?

The new documents are two memoranda of conversations (memcons) with the visiting Argentine foreign minister, Admiral Cesar Augusto Guzzetti - one with Kissinger himself on October 7, 1976. At the time, the U.S. Congress was about to approve sanctions against the Argentine regime because of widespread reports of human rights abuses by the junta. [...]

According to the memcon's verbatim transcript, Secretary of State Kissinger interrupted the Foreign Minister's report on the situation in Argentina and said "Look, our basic attitude is that we would like you to succeed. I have an old-fashioned view that friends ought to be supported. What is not understood in the United States is that you have a civil war. We read about human rights problems but not the context. The quicker you succeed the better… The human rights problem is a growing one. Your Ambassador can apprise you. We want a stable situation. We won't cause you unnecessary difficulties."

Oh, right.

Given Kissinger's "old-fashioned views", I think he should consider supporting his misunderstood "friends" Riveros and Verplaetsen by protesting their convictions in a way that's dramatic enough to draw the appropriate level of international attention to this grave injustice.  Let me be the first to suggest self-immolation.

[ Previous paean to the long arm of Argentinian law here. ]

— John Caruso

Posted at August 15, 2009 11:25 AM

The trouble is, John, you don't understand that President Obama would like to crush all the evil, but he just can't. It's not his fault, it's the system!

Posted by: Duncan at August 15, 2009 12:08 PM

Argentinians are fixing their economic problems too.

Posted by: SMDQR at August 15, 2009 12:30 PM

It's not his fault, it's the system!

Exactly, and let's remember that the same critics who once attacked the Argentinian government for its human rights abuses are the same people who now say that Argentina is some kind of model for human rights. I think what that indicates is that maybe there's some hypocrisy involved in their -- their approach to U.S.-Latin American relations.

For shame, John.

Posted by: SteveB at August 15, 2009 02:19 PM

Doesn't our fascist friend Licio Gelli still live in Argentina?

Posted by: hf at August 15, 2009 03:47 PM

Somebody asking about where Gelli is hanging out--wow, I like it! Next thing you know we'll be talking about P2 and the Grey Wolves and who knows what else!

Posted by: N E at August 15, 2009 06:22 PM

C'mon, everyone knows Gelli took the Popemobile to Paraguay.

Posted by: John Caruso at August 15, 2009 11:00 PM

Besides, this makes it sound like the Argentinians are living in the past, refusing to move forward. President Obama knows better than that.

Posted by: Duncan at August 16, 2009 04:16 PM

Meanwhile, over in China, "workers beat to death the executive overseeing the sale" of a state-owned steel mill to private investors. The sale has been called off, for now.

Not that I'm holding that up as some sort of model. Oh, no.

Posted by: SteveB at August 16, 2009 05:18 PM

SteveB wins the thread.

(For the 2:19pm comment. I'm still reluctant to endorse beating Tim Geithner and Larry Summers to death, but am beginning to forget why...)

Posted by: Nell at August 17, 2009 09:49 AM

Nit-picky, but we're getting on to four decades since Kissinger's worst crimes.

The "decent interval" in Viet Nam.
Chilean coup (quite a few years in the making).
Operation Condor.

And more, but my head is already swimming and I'm feeling very old.

Posted by: Nell at August 17, 2009 12:41 PM

Nell: 4 decades? By golly, WE'VE beat Mao's People's 10,000 mile march by one hell of a long ways.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at August 17, 2009 01:09 PM