December 7, 2013
No right without rights
If the subject of last Sunday’s editorial was former first lady and ex-senator Hilda “Chiche” González de Duhalde’s outrageous denigration of the female capacity to hold political office, today we will again pick up the rash comments of a political has-been — namely, former Alliance minister Ricardo López Murphy’s criticisms of the ongoing human rights trials. After polling just 1.41 percent as City mayoral candidate in 2011, a percentage which would not have cleared the threshold for an October midterm candidacy if he had run in this month’s primaries (in which case he would have partnered in failure the man who replaced him as economy minister in March, 2001 — Domingo Cavallo), why should anybody care what López Murphy has to say about anything?
In fact, his opinions have a qualitative importance out of all proportion to his dismal electoral record. He may have been economy minister for just 15 days in March, 2001, but by far his longest stint as an Alliance minister was in the defence portfolio (461 days, to be exact) so that when the defence minister during most of the last non-Peronist centre-left government to rule Argentina criticizes human rights trials at various levels, this is indeed cause for concern — especially with political change in the air. Secondly, López Murphy might have had too sparse a potential vote to run himself this month but he has a hot line to several vastly more popular politicians — notably, Elisa Carrió, the candidate with the most votes within the coalition with the most votes (UNEN) in this month’s City primaries. If since founding the firmly centre-left ARI in 2001, Carrió has moved to the centre and even well right of the centre, López Murphy can claim much of the credit. Thirdly (and perhaps most importantly), López Murphy can claim to be the heart and soul of the Argentine institutional right, a status of which City Mayor Mauricio Macri can only dream for all his political clout and financial fortune — López Murphy’s free-market purism and consistency has always contrasted favourably with Macri’s family origins in the “contractual fatherland,” his political machine and propaganda techniques which mirror his national government rivals, his basic populism, etc.
If this icon of the respectable right can thus publicly deplore the lack of pardon for “dirty warriors” to the extent of rejecting the 2005 Supreme Court ruling quashing the 1986-7 “full stop” and “due obedience” amnesty legislation, then perhaps this represents not so much any concrete danger as cause to feel rather sad about the hopes for democratic balance.