Monday, February 02, 2015

A strange trio of articles from Germany's "Jungle World" on Argentina

The German news site Jungle World has run some articles in the past that I thought were good. But they just ran a set of them on Argentina that are serious hackwork.

Marcus Munzlinger, Viva la Contrainformación! 29.01.2015, the lead article on page with the Argentina theme (shown on the front webpage as of 02/01/2015), "Buenos Aires im Nebel.Die Staatsaffäre nach dem Tod des Ermittlers Nisman," would lead the reader to believe that Argentina was a sinkhole of anti-Semitic violence. The opening paragraph introduces Hispan TV, a subsidiary of IRIB, Iran's state public TV company.

Since the set of articles is described on the front page under the rubric, "Buenos Aires im Nebel.Die Staatsaffäre nach dem Tod des Ermittlers Nisman" (Buenos Aires in Fog: the state affair after the death of the prosecutor Nisman") as of 02/01/2015, this is a distinctive introduction to the Nisman case, which is a part of the larger, much longer story of the AMIA terrorist attack in Buenos Aires in 1994.

The theory that Iran was behind the AMIA Jewish Community Center bombing is a major theme involved. That was the late prosecutor Alberto Nisman's theory of the case and the one on which the Argentine government has been operating. But that case has never been proven in court or convincingly established in the public record. And it has become highly politicized because both the US and Israel have been using it for over 20 years now as a key propaganda point against Iran.

So leading a series like this with an article that makes it sounds like Argentina is home to rampant, violent anti-Semitism directly encouraged by the Iranian government sets the stage in a particular way. One that the most hawkish neoconservative encouraging war with Iran would be happy to see. Jungle World calls itself, "Die linke Wochenzeitung" ("the weekly left newspaper").

The second piece in the series, Staat im Staat (29.01.2015) by Christian Rollmann, is on the whole a decent report on Nisman's death and its implications, including the problematic role of rogue elements in the security services, not least of them the only recently removed Jaime Stiuso.

The title "Argentenien ist heute ein Einparteienstaat" ("'Argentina is today a one-part state'") (29.01.2015) is a catchy title, since it makes Argentina sound like Communist East Germany, or maybe North Korea. It's an interview with "Argentine journalist and historian" Uki Goñi, who writes for The Guardian. The only sentence I'll both quoting from his interview are these two (my emphasis): "Argentinien ist heute ein Einparteienstaat, wie Mexiko zu Zeiten der PRI-Herrschaft. Bis auf acht Jahre gab es nur peronistische Regierungen, Gouverneure, Bürgermeister." ("Argentina is today a one-party state, like Mexico in the times of PRI rule. Since eight years ago there has been only Peronist governments, governors, mayors.")

Since anyone with even a general familiarity of Argentine politics would be gobsmacked by this painfully false claim. For my own geeky entertainment, I looked up the governors of the 23 Argentine provinces and the "autonomous city" of Buenos Aires. The Peronist Partido Justicialista (PJ) has held the national Presidency since 2003, when Néstor Kirchner was elected. The main opposition parties are the Unión Civica Radical (UCR) and the Partido Socialista (PS) Here are the current provincial governors and their party allifiations, most of which are in fact associated with the PJ:

Buenos Aires City: Mauricio Macri (PRO, a party closely aligned with the UCR on policy)
Buenos Aires Province: Daniel Scioli (PJ)
Catamarca: Lucía Corpacc (PJ)
Chaco: Juan Carlos Bacileff Ivanoff (PJ)
Chubut: Martín Buzzi (PJ)
Córdoba: José Manuel de la Sota (PJ)
Corrientes: Arturo Alejandro Colombi (UCR)
Entre Ríos: Sergio Daniel Urribarri (PJ)
Formosa: Gildo Insfrán (PJ)
Jujuy: Eduardo Alfredo Fellner (PJ)
La Pampa: Oscar Mario Jorge (PJ)
La Rioja: Luis Beder Herrera (PJ)
Mendoza: Francisco Pérez (PJ)
Misiones: Maurice Fabián Closs (PJ)
Neuquén: Jorge Augusto Sapag (MPN; Movimiento Popular Neuquino, a "Neoperonist" PJ offshoot)
Río Negro: Alberto Weretilneck (Frente Renovador, a neoliberal PJ spin-off headed by Sergio Massa)
Salta: Juan Manuel Urtubey (PJ)
San Juan: José Luis Gioja (PJ)
San Luis: Claudio Javier Poggi (PJ)
Santa Cruz: Daniel Román Peralta (PJ)
Santa Fe: Antonio Bonfatti (PS); Hermes Juan Binner (PS), the national leader of the Partida Socialista served as Governor 2007-2011
Santiago del Estero: Claudia Alejandra Ledesma Abdala de Zamora (Frente Cívico por Santiago, currently aligned with Cristina's national government)
Tierra del Fuego (properly Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del Atlántico Sur: María Fabiana Ríos (PS)
Tucumán: José Jorge Alperovich (PJ)

Of those 24, Buenos Aires City, Corrientes, Neuquén, Río Negro, Santa Fe, Santiago del Estero and Tierra del Fuego all have govenors not associated with Cristina's PJ, the Peronist party. We could be generous and assume that when Goñi says that the country has had only "Peronist governments, governors, mayors" for the last eight years, he was using Peronism as a very broad term. But even then, the claim is clearly false. Leaving aside that there have been a wide range of ideological trends that in some way were "Peronist," Macri's PRO, the UCR and the PS clearly are not among them.

It also very much the case that Argentina is a multi-party state with competitive, free elections. Major figures in distinct opposition to the national government and the PJ like Mauricio Macri and Sergio Massa have high profiles nationally. And the major press corporations associated with Clarín and La Nación are blatantly aligned with the opposition and daily produce critical coverage of the national government, not infrequently of an irresponsible nature.

Admittedly, the opposition is in crisis itself. But not because the government is repressing them. Macri and another major opposition leader, Elisa Carrió, just made an agreement that puts into question the future viability of the UCR as a party. (Sebastian Abrevaya, Cómo ganar la tapa con un romance de verano Página/12 01.02.2015; Macri and Carrió finally make it official Buenos Aires Herald 02.01.2015)

Argentina is not a "one-party state" in any remotely accurate meaning of the phrase.

So one really has to wonder what kind of columnist makes such a claim and what kind of editorship at Jungle World passes on such a demonstrably false claim, making no note of the factual falsity of it within the article.

Definitely a strange trio of articles. The middle one is a decent summary of the Nisman story. The first and third promote typical neocon "regime change" propaganda claims. And this is a German "left" publication. Weird.

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