Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s rapid wave of austerity policies is taking a toll on the countries’ investigations into dictatorship-era crimes, including human rights defenders’ probes into economic ties with the military regime, the Buenos Aires Herald reported on Monday.
Neoliberal moves taken since Macri’s administration took office in December, including massive layoffs from the public and private sectors and cuts that have scrapped departments charged with gathering historical evidence in certain public institutions, have undermined the investigations.
Although Macri has vowed to keep investigations into historical rights abuses on track, various policy changes have pushed human rights groups to question his commitment to the task.
Teams that worked to declassify evidence, identify victims, and ensure cooperation in investigations in key institutions like the military have taken a hit, raising concerns that the process of justice will suffer a setback.
Efforts to uncover economic complicity during the dictatorship have also been undermined, according to rights defenders.
Cases that are in the early stages of investigation and have yet to be brought trial have been most impacted, while those already on trial and near completion are going ahead largely unaffected.
Macri has been criticized for having indirect ties to Argentina’s last military dictatorship in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s that carried out a violent dirty war against left-wing activists and political opponents of the regime.
Macri’s closest ties to the the dictatorship are through his family’s business Macri Society, known as Socma, whose corporate empire expanded over six fold during the dictatorship. Many of Macri’s largest financial backers and corporate allies also supported the dictatorship and benefited economically.
Macri and his Republican Proposal Party opposed a bill last year, passed by a wide margin, aimed at tackling dictatorship-era impunity by launching an investigations into how people and businesses participated in crimes committed by the 1976-1983 dictatorship.
Right defenders fear that Macri’s apparent sympathies for corporate complicity will continue to affect investigations.
The U.S.-backed dirty war disappeared between 7,000 and 30,000 people in Argentina under the dictatorship regime.