Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Argentina-Chile: Do as I say

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on October 7, 2010

by The Economist – Americas View, October 4th, 2010.

Argentina’s ruling couple have made prosecuting the political violence of the past their signature issue. Néstor Kirchner, the president from 2003 to 2007, and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, his wife and successor, regularly call for “memory” and “justice” for the victims of the country’s 1976-83 military dictatorship. During their time in office, hundreds of ex-soldiers accused of kidnapping, torture and murder have been taken into custody.

No such justice has been extended to the (fewer) victims of Argentina’s leftist guerrillas—in fact, many former supporters of such groups have served in the Kirchners’ cabinet. But the first couple has deflected charges of a double standard by noting that the 2005 Supreme Court decision allowing “dirty war” cases to be reopened applied exclusively to crimes against humanity, which under Argentine law can only be committed by representatives of the state. On September 30th, however, Ms Fernández sabotaged her claim to support an apolitical reckoning with the past, when her underlings recommended that she grant asylum to a Chilean guerrilla leader.

In June 2004 Chile issued an international arrest warrant for Galvarino Apablaza, who was a leader of the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front (FPMR), an urban guerrilla group set up by the country’s Communist Party to fight the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. But the crimes Mr Apablaza is accused of refer to events that took place after Chile had returned to democracy: planning the murder of Jaime Guzmán Errázuriz, a conservative senator and Pinochet ideologue, and the kidnapping of Cristián Edwards, the son of a newspaper owner, in 1991. Five months after the warrant was filed, Argentine authorities detained Mr Apablaza in a Buenos Aires suburb, where he had been living under a pseudonym with his wife, Paula Chaín. Chile requested his extradition, and Mr Apablaza applied for asylum. After seven months, a federal judge denied the extradition request and he was released. But the Chilean government appealed to Argentina’s Supreme Court, which said it would not rule until the asylum question had been settled. Mr Apablaza remained free in the meantime. (continue reading… )

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