Equipo Nizkor Statement Concerning the Question of the Extraditions and the Opinions Expressed by the Media and the Navy.

En español

1) The newspapers Clarin and La Nacion, in editorials about the extradition of those army personnel and civilians accused of grave crimes against humanity, have resorted to a dramatic technique in approaching the matter, that is to say, they have described the consequences without explaining the causes; thus they manage to draw conclusions which are not just false but also tend to deceive, obscure the truth and demonstrate a lack of respect to the citizens, and particularly to their readers; and therefore deserve an answer.

2) The newspapers conceal the fact that the Argentine and Chilean proceedings in Spain- which have taken place in other countries - have been driven, without exception, by citizens representing Argentinian victims and are supported by Argentinian and other national human rights organizations as well as by victims groups and progressive political groups, and are based on the evidence that in Argentina the extermination of an entire generation was being carried out with the conscious silence of part of society and with the support of the press. Of course, the Clarin and La Nacion are no exception to this, in fact quite the contrary.

3) The sovereignty of a country is measured by its level of knowledge, by the solidity and the honesty of its institutions, by low levels of corruption, by social integration and its technological and scientific levels amongst other factors. But for centuries it has been known that it is not measured by the level of corruption in the system of justice or by impunity against grave crimes. What the leader writers do not say is that if proceedings in other countries are now going on, it is because the political and social corruption in Argentina has caused it.

4) It is true that in the proceedings in Italy the Italian Penal Code, which dates from the era of Mussolini, was applied and that it was used by the human rights activists -as it could not be otherwise- who have conducted these proceedings for years without the assistance of the governments.

But to say that the judgement against the former General Suarez Mason is an act of Italian imperialism is the most complete falsehood. The Clarin would do well to remember that P-2 Lodge, controlled by Italians such as Licio Gelli, included eminent Argentinian army officers and politicians who were never even investigated for crimes committed in the name of the Lodge, a model example of a criminal organization, and many of those crimes were planned and committed in Argentina.

This criminal power still exists today, as evidenced by the falsification of judicial documents in the case of the officer and lawyer Olivera, using the Italian magistracy.

5) To give the impression that the Spanish proceedings are part of an imperialist trend is also a falsehood akin to intellectual dishonesty, but it is in line with the journalistic conduct of the Clarin since the beginning of these proceedings and with the manner in which the paper has manipulated the information about them to date.

These proceedings have anticipated the permanent opposition of the prosecutors office of the Spanish Audiencia Nacional, the office of the State Prosecutor, the office of the President, the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and even the Spanish press, who have behaved throughout as defenders for the accused military officers and with the assistance and approval of Argentinian intelligence have used all possible methods of intimidation, threat and even defamation which were open to them. In attempting to stop these cases coming to trial, they have had the support of the Partido Popular and leaders such as Felipe Gonzalez of the PSOE.

The type and nature of these trials is contrary to the policy of an internal and global state of exception which is being promoted by the current Spanish government, even more so since its agreement with President Bush and Prime Minister Blair with respect to the war in Iraq.

Not even the public conduct and self-promotion of Judge Baltasar Garzon can explain how these proceedings have survived hitherto, and less still, how it is that two navy officers such as Miguel Cavallo and Adolfo Scilingo can now be under detention in Spanish prisons. In neither case were the police or the investigative resources of the Spanish police responsible for the situation. Miguel Angel Cavallo "fell" as a result of the process of cleansing of the corruption in Mexico and Adolfo Scilingo surrendered and gave a voluntary confession.

6) Argentinian sovereignty has not been violated by the foreign proceedings against military and civilians, but by those who have created the Argentinian social and economic situation which unfortunately is known to the whole world and endured in particular by the citizens of Argentina. The time has come to stop accusing third parties for the evil and the ignominy committed by Argentinian nationals or foreigners who colluded with them.

7) Argentinian sovereignty has been vilified by the military who invaded Bolivia in 1980 and used drug-trafficking and corruption to finance the military exploits in Central America, by those who took part in and supported the massacres in Guatemala, and by those who committed murder and planned the extermination of the civil population in Honduras.

Whoever planned, organized, and controlled the criminal organization which created a network of secret detention centres and extermination camps which devastated the country - and who even today have enough power to have control over the state - are responsible for the fact that Argentinian sovereignty in practice does not exist. It is not the responsibility of the human rights activists who legitimately proceed with the cases abroad when faced with the impossibility of obtaining justice at home.

8) Argentinian sovereignty has been put at risk by the failure to comply with the norms and requirements issued by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and by the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Human Rights Court which has declared the amnesties and laws of impunity null and void. It is also at risk because the judicial system has deliberately prevented the use of those resources relied upon for decades by international law and especially those which are derived from the system of the United Nations, International Humanitarian Law and International Law of Human Rights, recognised by the existing Argentinian constitution in Article 75, para. 22. All this has alienated the country in practice from the Inter-American system and the United Nations.

One need only recall that not even the crimes committed during the Falklands War were 'cleansed' and the Clarin should be very familiar with these given that, during this period, it participated in the Ministerial Commission which scandalously censored, manipulated and falsified the information concerning the conflict.

For the leader writers, sovereignty is a kind of mafia product which can be used to hide criminals, conceal corruption, impede access to justice by its citizens and conceal for history the dreadful crimes committed not only in Argentinian territory but overseas.

9) The Clarin uses what may be called international commercial law to be "horrified" by the case concerning Argentinian bonds which was heard in the New York courts. We suggest to the newspaper that it makes use of the case of Wiwa v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, or the RICO Act of the United States, or the Inter-American Convention against Corruption and that it tells its readers about the number of Argentinian citizens and foreign nationals who are being investigated for or charged with tax evasion; money-laundering; illicit diversions of privatisation funds; the creation of secret banks; or simply for their responsibility in the administration of companies such as YPF which held first place internationally for losses among petroleum companies; or for funds created with the assets looted from victims of the military dictatorship; or for the development of all those accounting tools necessary to produce the largest international bankruptcy of a country.

It is very possible that in these type of activities one will find in Spanish and Italian citizens examples of that imperialism and even of less than orthodox behaviour with reference to Argentinian law. However we are sure that none of those Spanish or Italian citizens have supported the proceedings against Argentinian military officers in third countries nor are they being investigated by the Argentinian judicial system.

10) We hope that the laws of impunity are repealed and that the Argentinian judicial system is completely cleansed and re-structured so that it can comply with the decisions of the Inter-American Commission and apply international human rights law and, naturally, that all those who have been responsible for crimes against humanity and against their country, including those suspected of economic and social corruption be judged and carry out the sentences which the law imposes on them in fair and transparent proceedings.

This is the behaviour which would allow Argentina to regain its lost sovereignty, and not the maintenance of a system of judicial, political and social impunity which has resulted in the disintegration of the social and political structure, disintegration which was not inevitable, nor a result of destiny nor a result of natural laws.

Even before Argentina existed as a nation, the consequences of these kinds of models of impunity were well-known. To see this, one need only repeat the words of Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832): "From pardon powerunrestricted, comes impunity to delinquency in all shapes: from impunity to delinquency in all shapes, impunity to maleficence in all shapes: from impunity to maleficence in all shapes, dissolution of government: from dissolution of government, dissolution of political society"".

It is precisely that which the leader writers of the Clarin and the Nation are hiding.

Gregorio Dionis, Director of Equipo Nizkor
EU - 10 July 2003

DDHH en Argentina

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Este documento ha sido publicado el 09ago03 por el Equipo Nizkor y Derechos Human Rights