When the military junta in Argentina folded in 1983, President Alfonsin came to power, and started proceedings against certain members of the military high command who had participated in the Dirty War, as well as the leaders of the Monteneros (those who survived) for kidnappings and murders. However, the trials affected only a few. In 1986, the full stop law was enacted, the limited suits to those that would be enacted within 60 days of its passage, all others to be rendered null, and the due obedience law, in 1987, which halted the trials that had passed the full stop law. Then, when Menem wasw elected in 1989, he began issuing mass pardons, mostly for the military but some of them for the Montenero leadership (which, it must be said, has always been suspected of actually being led by agent provacateur, notably in the case of the leader, Mario Firminich – see Martin Edwin Andersen’s Dossier secreto for details).
Collectively, Alfonsin’s decrees were known as the impunity laws. In this way, the State covered up for the almost thirty thousand murders committed by the military junta.
Against this coverup, a civil rights organisation began to hold Tribunals against Impunity in Buenos Aires in 1990, with the aim of revealing as many facts as possible and shaming the state.
I’ve been thinking about this vis-à-vis the United States. It seems to me that we have been living through the era of Impunity, here: from the horrors committed in the name of fighting terror to the invasion of Iraq through the Obama directed drone war; from the unwillingness of the Justice department and the SEC to reign in or jail anyone for the financial meltdown of 2008 to the widespread fraud by the banks in the paperwork they have submitted to courts concerning mortgages; from the abolition of jury trial in the case of suits for damages to corporations to the Supreme Court’s increasing willingness to lend cover to any plutocratic attempt to buy elections and change laws in their favor. On the cultural front, there is the impunity enjoyed by those in the media who have cheered along all these things, and who have never lost a dime for being not just wrong, but disastrously wrong; not just mistaken in their reporting or analysis, but being willing conduits of propaganda and lies.
And I’ve been thinking – wouldn’t it be nice if the occupy organizers did something on the Argentina model. With the masses of information made available by Snowden, with what what we know about the massive frauds in the financial sector, and finally, with what we can find out about the massive buying of the federal legislative and executive branches – the revolving door between officeholders and business, and the more secret doors that link the hiring of their relatives and associates – their clans – by the corporations they are supposedly regulating, it would make for, at least, entertainment. RFK in the sixties took a subcommittee to various locales in this country to investigate poverty. On similar lines, a tribunal against impunity could go to Cleveland and take testimony on the sack of that city in the 00s by mortgage lending bottom feeders – could go to Atlanta and show how laws against fraud were fundamentally abandoned by get rich quick state legislators – could go to New Orleans and show how few people have suffered for the negligence in Katrina – could go to Reston, Virginia, where the CIA is located, and show how the CIA systematically constructed and operated an international network of torture sites. This is just the tip of the impunity iceberg, of course.
I had a dream…