Journalists reacted strongly and swiftly Monday to an editorial published by the Argentine newspaper La Nacion that called for the newly elected government of Mauricio Macri to cease the prosecution of perpetrators of human rights abusers during the country's dictatorship.
Trabajo en La Nación, pero no comparto el editorial de hoy. No soy el único periodista de LN que piensa así. Eso.— Ricardo Sametband (@rsametband) November 23, 2015
“I work for La Nacion, but I am not sharing today’s editorial. I am not the only journalist at LN that thinks this.”
"The election of a new government is a propitious moment to end the lies about the seventies," read the controversial editorial, published the morning following Macri's victory over his leftist rival in the presidential election.
Macri defeated Daniel Scioli, who was representing the incumbent of the Front for Victory coalition.
The governments of the Front for Victory, first under the presidency of the late Nestor Kirchner and later under Cristina Fernandez, made a deliberate effort to address the crimes committed during the bloody Argentine dictatorship that ruled from 1976 to 1983.
The dictatorship engaged in in a Dirty War that forcibly disappeared up to 30,000 people. The polemical editorial claimed that the prosecution of those who committed human rights abuses itself constituted modern-day human rights abuses.
In a statement published on social media and approved by the Assembly of Workers at the paper, staff at La Nacion reacted negatively to the editorial, saying that it “did not represent them in the slightest” and they they rejected the logic of the editorial that sought to equate efforts at securing justice with revenge.
Asamblea masiva en la redacción d La Nación, repudio y rechazo al editorial d hoy. Derechos Humanos no se negocian pic.twitter.com/rBcLf4srqX— Mauri Giambartolomei (@mgiambar) November 23, 2015
“Massive gathering in the La Nacion office condemning and rejecting today’s editorial. Human rights are non-negotiable.”
A number of well-known journalists at the paper also distanced themselves from the editorial on their social media accounts.
The journalists at La Nacion were not alone in their repudiation.
Argentine human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel said the editorial was a “disgrace,” while the organization known as HIJOS, founded by the children of people forcibly disappeared by the dictatorship, said in response, “our revenge is happiness.”
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“If asking for justice means revenge (for La Nacion), then they have distorted the concept of justice,” said Martin Fresneda, Argentine secretary for human rights.
Fresneda added that the cases involving crimes against humanity had been conducted with “due process and the principles of legality.”
Argentina's impunity laws, which protected the military junta and other human rights abusers, were repealed in 2003 by the National Congress, a decision that was held up by the Supreme Court in 2005.
A spokesperson from Macri's political party said that the president-elect had made clear he would continue to afford the judiciary the necessary independence to conduct its work, including the prosecution of human rights abusers.