Argentina: Tango Time for Ex-Dictator and Henchmen

While in Spain we must assist the shameful spectacle of the Supreme Court giving comfort to the crimes of a regime that ended over 30 years ago, Argentina has taken another firm and corageous step in closing the wounds of its more recent dictatorship. Reynaldo Bignone, the last Argentine dictator from 1982 to 1983, was condemned by a Buenos Aires tribunal to 25 years in prison for crimes against humanity in the torture, death and disappearence of non-combatants in the infamous Campo de Mayo military torture center.

In a court room filled with the families of the disappeared (the court case named 56 victims, he admits to eight thousand but the actual number is estimated at around thirty thousand), Bignone, now 82 years old, argued that the victims “were not young activists, but dangerous terrorists” to a stony silence. The cheers began when the Federal Judge stipulated that the ex-dictator, who had been under home arrest due to his age, be sent to a federal prison, given the gravity of the crimes. Together with Bignone, six of his top repressors were also condemned to the same sentence.

Adios and good riddance

And so fall seven criminals against humanity, to be locked away and left to rot, which is more consideration than they had for their victims. And the Republic of Argentina gains major credibility in its unwavering persecution of such crimes on its own turf, meaning that at this point in time, Argentina is two or more steps ahead of Spain in the defense of the human rights of its own citizens. Let us not forget that it was Garzón who originally opened the season on prosecuting Argentine war criminals, when in 2005 he brought ex-torturer Adolfo Scilingo to court in Spain, where he is currently spending the first 5 of his 640 years in prison. But while Argentina’s judicial system has carried on prosecuting regime criminals, in Spain the judicial system puts the JUDGE on trial. That make sense, right? Right?

Well, maybe so… Every day there are more voices in Spain suggesting that all this noise about Garzón and the crimes of the Franco regime are nothing more than a smokescreen to disable the ongoing corruption case involving members of the main opposition party (PP) that Garzón is investigating. Without the tenacity of Garzón behind it, the political fallout of the case could be sensibly reduced or even avoided.

If this is the case –which would surprise no-one considering some folks at the PP are so crooked they have to screw their pants on– the levels of cynical manipulation by political interests will have reached a new and dangerous low. But again, if this is the case, the blowback for such extra hairy mojo on a toasted bun will be swift, unstoppable, and unexpected, although I’d keep my eye on the Argentina front right now because karma just loves symmetry.

And to think the regime nostalgics in Spain thought they were sitting tight while Garzón investigated Argentina’s dictatorship. Poor fools, they are but dead men walking; Garzón killed them all five years ago and they haven’t even figured it out yet. And unlike V’s humane culling of the doctor in the novel (below), this time it IS going to hurt. All figuratively, of course. Mostly.

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