By Luciana Bertoia
César Milani seems to have been a poor choice to be the new head of the Army — and the government knows it.
Last month, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner decided to reshuffle the upper echelons of the armed forces and she chose Milani as the head of the Army, even though there were some reports linking him with the so-called Independence Operation, which, in 1975, set the stage for the human rights violations carried out by the last Argentine dictatorship.
Milani seems to be a bad choice for a government that has made the defence of human rights into a standard, especially shortly before a critical midterm election. So, little wonder then that the Kirchnerite administration decided to postpone the Senate discussion on Milani until after the election.
Yesterday morning, the big news was that the Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) rejected Milani’s designation.
The move came after days when both Kirchnerites and anti-Kirchnerites have been talking about evidence. While one side insisted there was no proof linking Milani with genocide, the other argued human rights organizations are the ones responsible for providing them.
The problem here seems to be a lack of understanding of how the dictatorship worked.
The military regime carried out a clandestine repression, erasing evidence of its crimes. Is there a more cruel evidence of the lack of evidence than the disappeared people? Often, no files are available for human rights organizations to examine. They collect what they can. Their main source of information has been testimonies by survivors.
Another kind of evidence might be the state archives but they are not available and that is a pending issue that can be blamed on all the democratic governments that have ruled the country since 1983.
Although he appeared before two federal judges last week, Milani has not been able to clear up his name.
Yesterday evening, when the FpV announced that the discussion on Milani would reconvene after the election, a question remained: Who will benefit from this delay?
The PASO primaries to be held August 11 are too close for the government to acknowledge a mistake. At the same time, using the FpV’s majority to guarantee Milani’s promotion could very well turn out to be an expensive mistake. But saying that Milani may be responsible of crimes against humanity might also be too high a cost that the government may not be willing to take before October’s midterm.
For days, Kirchnerites and anti-Kirchnerites have been requesting evidence. After having heard the human rights groups’ “evidence,” they paid little attention to it. Now, they say they do not want elections to interfere with the appointment.
Whether human rights can be put aside to wait for elections seems to be an entirely different question.