In commemorating the 9th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, President Nestor Kirchner demonstrated yet again his resolve to solve this crime:
Soon after he took office last May 25, Kirchner signed an executive decree opening secret intelligence documents to aid prosecutors still trying to solve the attacks. He also ordered Argentine intelligence agents to testify about what they know about the bombings.
After the ceremony, Kirchner called the lack of progress in the investigation a "national disgrace" and said his government would do all it could to give new impetus to the investigation.
Such talk of a deeper government commitment to the investigation has been welcomed by the 200,000-strong Jewish community here, which is Latin America's largest. Kirchner's appearance Friday drew cheers when he showed up with his wife, Cristina.
The utter lack of progress in this case is one of the many disgraces of Carlos Menem's presidency.
Kirchner also adds a breath of fresh air regarding prosecuting those responsible for Argentina's "Dirty War":
New left-leaning President Nestor Kirchner, himself persecuted as a student, wants to see those who he says "decimated" his generation held accountable.
"Reconciliation cannot arise from silence or complicity," he warned military top brass this month. "We must separate the wheat from the chaff, each taking responsibility for his actions."
A top Foreign Ministry source told Reuters Kirchner is seeking to annul a decree that bans extradition of ex-military accused of rights abuses -- and so pave the way for them to be tried abroad.
The initiative follows Mexico's recent extradition of former Argentine Navy officer Ricardo Cavallo to Spain to face genocide and terrorism charges in what was hailed as a watershed for human rights.
Crusading Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, who has sought the extradition of dozens of former Argentine officials, is now trying to freeze the assets of 96 ex-soldiers and police officers he accuses of dictatorship-era crimes.
This is probably the optimum time for him to do this. The public's perception of the military in Argentina is probably at its lowest point in the country's recent history and the influence of the military on public life has been severely weakened in recent years. I don't think that the civilian government faces the threats that it faced from the "Carapintadas", the special forces soldiers that led a couple of unsuccessful revolts in the 1980's when Argentina was a renascent democracy.
Kirchner's words are powerful and on point: there can be no reconciliation without acknowledgement and justice.