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Fuentes' Prayer for Argentina

June 11, 1987

Carlos Fuentes' prayer for Argentina (Opinion, May 31), "A Prayer for Democracy," is a prayer that stands a slim chance of being answered.

The events that took place in April show us that the military in Argentina did not take over the government because they momentarily did not need it, as long as substantial concessions were granted. They were not looking to regain the government, just to "get away with murder." They will, as per the law submitted by President Raul Alfonsin for approval by the Congress.

Nazi hunters, 40 years later, still devote their lives searching for criminals, commanders and subordinates alike, expecting to bring them to trial and conviction. In Argentina, four years after the dictatorship, what is being proposed amounts to nothing more than doing away with international human rights principles, but also with promises made during the electoral process.

It is from this point of view that the uprising of April can be considered successful and proves that the military and their allies still control the power in Argentina.

Only four or five generals have been tried, convicted and are currently serving time. (Certainly not under the same conditions they used to have for the desaparecidos.) Impressive, for a country where, for decades nobody from the ruling classes has been accountable for his actions. But it only amounts to a token gesture. Hundreds of other human rights violators are free to roam in the Pampas and to prepare for the next coup d'etat.

It is true that the massive popular response against the uprising will prevent an overthrowing of the constitutional government in the near future. But it is also true that the armed forces of Argentina were never too worried about the lack of people's consensus.

The Argentine military does not need to be modernized, as Carlos Fuentes claims. The Malvinas war was not lost because the equipment was outdated, or because Great Britain had a technological edge. The war was probably lost because anybody who has been trained in the torture of unarmed people for many years cannot withstand the presence of a real adversary, as in the Malvinas war.

What Argentina needs are new armed forces, a military trained in respecting democracy and defending the sovereignty and the national interests of Argentina.

Until then, it is unlikely that Carlos Fuentes' prayer will be answered. And Argentina will be bound to this endless merry-go-round of curtailed democracy, military coup, curtailed democracy . . .

As a former political refugee, I certainly hope that history proves me wrong. But I also hope that in order to help Carlos Fuentes, the current trend in Argentina is reversed. Everything that should be unearthed, be unearthed, all the foreign debt that should be investigated, be investigated and anybody that should stand trial, be brought to trial.

DANIEL DEUTSCH

Studio City

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