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Argentina’s Human Rights Trials


Gabriele Andreozzi

The current situation in Argentina is unprecedented. In compliance with prescribed timings and procedures, the crimes committed by the state in recent history are being prosecuted and penalized. This book traces the path of the trials for crimes against humanity in Argentina, from the Trial of the Juntas that began during the presidency of Raúl Alfonsín to current developments under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, analysing the ideas of memory, truth and justice. In the volume, judges, lawyers, historians, journalists and witnesses from the era of terror give a lucid and critical reconstruction of the last thirty years. The contributors also point to other states where crimes against humanity are still being committed on a daily basis, despite being notionally proscribed.
This book is translated from Spanish, originally appearing under the title Juicios por crímenes de lesa humanidad en Argentina (2011).
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The Politics of Human Rights in Argentina, from Alfonsín to Menem


← 38 | 39 → MARCOS NOVARO


The fact that the military dictatorship ended with the collapse of military power meant that it was unable to impose greater conditions on the civilian actors. There was thus opened a window of opportunity for the institutions of democracy to investigate what had happened to the thousands of the desparecidos (disappeared) which had been caused by the implementation of state terrorism from the mid-1970s. Raúl Alfonsín and his party, the Unión Cívica Radical, made an explicit promise in this regard as part of their electoral campaign during the transition to democracy in 1983. This undertaking was important, although how important it was is difficult to measure, not least in ensuring Alfonsín’s triumph over the Peronists, whose candidate endorsed the self-amnesty issued shortly before by the Military Junta. Hence, once in government they devoted themselves with some care to fulfilling this promise.

The human rights policy of the government of Alfonsín has frequently been used as a privileged interpretive key for understanding the period which stretches from the military collapse of 1983 to the hyperinflation of 1989. And its shortcomings and the its somewhat frustrating results have been considered as the origin of the decisions which came to be taken by his successor, the Peronist Carlos Menem, who after 1989 moved towards guaranteeing the impunity of the crimes of the dictatorship. This is so because the policy of Alfonsín brings together some features...

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