Argentina's Truth Commission at 30Roundup: Historians' Take
tags: Argentina, Dirty War
Fabián Bosoer, a journalist and Argentine political scientist, is an opinion editor at the newspaper Clarín in Buenos Aires.
Federico Finchelstein is an Argentine historian and associate professor of history at the New School in New York City. He is the author of the forthcoming book, “The Ideological Origins of the Dirty War.”
Thirty years ago, after the fall of Argentina’s military dictatorship following defeat in the Malvinas/Falklands war with Britain, a newly elected President Raúl Alfonsín created the Human Rights Commission known as Conadep (Comisión Nacional sobre la Desaparición de Personas, or National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons). The first of its kind, Conadep’s main purpose was to investigate the crimes committed by the preceding military dictatorship and bring its perpetrators to justice.
Conadep was not a result of an armed revolution or imposed by occupying external powers as was the case in the Nuremberg trials after World War II. Rather, it was formed by Argentina’s freely-elected democratic government. In addition, its creation signaled a new form of democratic engagement based on a critical reading of Latin America’s past. Conadep advanced a form of Latin American democracy with history and justice as its foundations.
Three decades later, its legacy reverberates across Latin America and around the world. However, Conadep’s rejection of authoritarianism based on historical judgment remains unfulfilled in the region. The commission insists that, from the perspective of the state, there are only victims and perpetrators. Yet, in the recent years, in a clear departure from Conadep’s legal and historical framework, Argentine President Fernández de Kirchner began touting a narrative of “heroes” versus “villains.” To make matters worse, on Dec. 19, 2013, she appointed a general implicated in human rights violations that occurred under the reign of the military junta to the country’s top military post....