October 30, 2014
Truth, memory and justice
Today’s 20th anniversary of the 85-death terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish community city defies that old tango refrain about 20 years being nothing — the pain remains as acute and the impunity as complete as two decades ago. Nothing can justify the atrocity — even taking the darkest view of the conflict in Middle East, what does this have to do with the wanton destruction of 85 lives in this city 20 years ago? The loss of life is wholly irreversible but the impunity does not have to be — this should be the most appropriate focus for commemorating the 20th anniversary now. Many people seem to feel that the fight against impunity involves looking ahead and out (for the international terrorist mastermind, whether in Tehran, Damascus or elsewhere) but perhaps the most immediate progress could come from adopting the opposite approach — looking back and within. In other words, returning to the trail of the “local connection” whose initial investigation was sabotaged by a deliberately blatant mistrial. And also taking a harder look at the Carlos Menem administration for its handling of the investigation in the first five years after the atrocity (the most crucial stage. In the past two decades there has been a tendency to place the pressure on the current authorities (Kirchnerite since 2003) and in many ways this is perfectly legitimate because they are the ones who control the machinery to clarify the case but pursuing the responsibility to its original roots would not come amiss.
Over four months have passed since President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner directly addressed this issue in her state-of-the-nation address to open Congress and nobody has risen to the challenge. On that occasion CFK expressed frustration over the lack of results from the “truth commission” agreement with Iran signed 18 months ago but also invited opposition and Jewish community critics to come up with a better alternative. Yet apart from the proposal of a referendum on the Iran agreement, not a single idea has emerged while in the 50 weeks since the visibly more moderate Hassan Rohani replaced the inflammatory Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iranian president, there has been little sign of any feelers from CFK’s Foreign Ministry to see if the change of regime could bring new life to the agreement.
Surely the truth, memory and justice which are the watchwords of the human rights movement against the 1976-83 military dictatorship’s state terrorism should be extended to the AMIA horror from 20 years ago.