Repression Intensifies in Argentina After President Empowers Military

Weeks after Argentina signed a deal for a new $50 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and only days after hosting G20 leaders in Buenos Aires, Argentine President Mauricio Macri issued a decree July 23 that would allow the country’s armed forces to intervene in questions of domestic security.

The decree violates laws passed after the country’s last military dictatorship – an authoritarian military junta that took power in a coup in 1976 and used force and repression to silence all opposition – ended in 1983, which limited the role of the armed forces, and points to a disturbing trend of militarization and repression under the right-wing government. The decision sparked immediate outrage from human rights organizations and social movements who have since organized massive protests around the country.

In his statement, President Macri referred to issues of “national security,” drug-trafficking and protecting the national border to justify giving the military expanded powers. He also stated a more general need for the armed forces to “modernize” in response to 21st century threats, including “internal threats.” These statements have worried many human rights organizations who fear a return to the type of repression experienced under the dictatorship – when armed forces were likewise allowed to intervene in domestic issues.

According to the Center for Legal and Social Studies, the decree is in violation of the Defense and Security Laws, a series of laws that separate national defense from domestic security, considered fundamental to Argentina’s democracy and necessary to prevent a return to the state terrorism of the dictatorship. During that period, the state and the armed forces were responsible for the “disappearance” of 30,000 people from 1976 to 1983: kidnapping, torturing and murdering them using similar rhetoric about…

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