October 20, 2014
While nobody’s looking
World Cups can cover a multitude of sins. Even those not entirely mesmerized by the decisive stages in Brazil (not least yesterday’s quarter-final against Belgium) have plenty of serious mainstream news to occupy their attention — the ongoing legal saga of Vice-President Amado Boudou and the negotiations with hedge fund creditors going to the court-appointed mediator in New York as from tomorrow. Life continues even during a World Cup with some people still going about their work and it would be unfair to criticize them for that but a suspicion still lingers that now would be the perfect moment for sneaking through various dubious initiatives. Thus is it entirely a coincidence that a La Rioja judge should choose this time to throw out a case against Army Chief-of-Staff César Milani concerning his role in an illegal arrest 37 years ago during the 1976-83 military dictatorship (not the most serious charge against Milani who has also been linked to the disappearance of a conscript)?
It is also striking that the Senate should use last Wednesday’s Congress session to pass the controversial bill limiting state liability by a 38-23 vote. Although in a different sphere to the cases against Milani, this initiative also flouts the opinion of human rights advocates. Last year’s judicial reform package which aroused the most attention (and controversy) for allegedly seeking to dominate the judiciary via the Magistrates Council also included a similar bid to curb litigation against the state and even some of the most pro-government human rights groups who otherwise supported the package promptly objected to clauses which seemed to leave the weakest members of society unprotected against abuses of office — they eventually secured amendments in the stillborn package. A new attempt to limit state liability was made within the overhaul of the Civil and Commercial Codes but was also controversial, especially when debate over the Code reform coincided with events like the start of the trial over the 51-death Once rail crash (February, 2012) or the Rosario gas leak killing 22 people last August — it seemed that the state was seeking impunity for the consequences of its neglect (the bill passed by the Senate last Wednesday limits the liability for damages produced by inaction as much as action).
Just a couple of examples of what is going on behind the scenes of the World Cup and who knows what else there might be which is not appearing in the media in any shape or form but which is being sneaked through?