Kirchnerite picket leader Luis D’Elía has always been a loose cannon but now he is actually talking of shooting people — and not just in a bubble but when political violence is killing people in Caracas and Kiev. D’Elía has long been the toxic asset for the left that his namesake, the shady trade unionist Luis Barrionuevo, is for the right but now he is working very hard at being even worse with his insistence on the firing-squad for Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has been at pains to explain that one of the reasons for arresting López was to protect his life from extreme rightists allegedly plotting his assassination in order to blame it on the government and trigger a civil war. D’Elía is thus seeking to foist on Maduro’s head a murder which the Venezuelan president is anxious to avoid. Evidently Maduro could do without D’Elía and his friendly advice.
But even more so could President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Not only has her government solidly defended human rights for over six years but she herself values the sanctity of life at every level to the extent that she has pledged to veto abortion legislation — how then can her administration pass over in silence D’Elía’s murderous talk? After finally dumping that other toxic asset Guillermo Moreno just over 100 days ago (even if the former domestic trade secretary did not finally depart for his reassignment in the Rome embassy until last weekend), why not disown that other member of her movement’s lunatic fringe whose thuggish attitudes seem far more typical of rightwing Peronism and who has cost her so much middle-class support in particular? “No more” might not be an anagram of D’Elía’s name as in the case of Moreno but the sentiment applies equally to him.
It would be easy to dismiss D’Elía’s bluster as empty words but his own historical references show the dangers of ignoring such talk. D’Elía insists that Argentina would have saved itself much tragedy if Juan Domingo Perón had shot the coupmongering general Benjamín Menéndez in 1951 but the serpent’s eggs for the violence of the 1970’s lay elsewhere — in Perón’s “five for one” talk after the 1955 Plaza de Mayo bombings (by naval aviation, not Menéndez) and in the fact that the military junta displacing Perón did not show his mercy but shot the rebellious Peronist general Juan José Valle in 1956. Too many lives have been lost to political violence and are being lost now to make D’Elía’s trigger-happy talk tolerable.