BUENOS AIRES – Argentine human rights organizations filed a court motion on Monday seeking to block a government decree that allows the armed forces to be used to provide internal security, a controversial idea in a country where memories of the bloody 1976-1983 military regime are still fresh.
“This decision by President (Mauricio) Macri to once again involve the armed forces in domestic matters puts the people’s security at risk,” Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel said at a press conference at the headquarters of the Space for Memory Institute (IEM) in Buenos Aires.
The government announced in July a “modernization process” for the military that includes allowing its cooperation in domestic security tasks.
In the face of heavy criticism by the political opposition and human rights activists, on various occasions Macri has reiterated that the aim is to try and provide logistical support and not to directly involve the military in internal security operations.
“It’s not only an unconstitutional measure, but it deeply affects us to once again find ourselves in that serious situation,” Perez Esquivel said, making reference to the crimes of the 1976-1983 junta, which killed some 30,000 people.
The IEM, in collaboration with the American Association of Jurists, presented a constitutional challenge to Macri’s order.
One of the attorneys who prepared the complaint, Claudia Roca, said that Macri “has exceeded his authority,” since his duties include “observing the spirit of the prevailing laws” and, according to the constitution, it is Congress that is tasked with “establishing the work of the armed forces both in times of peace and war.”
Roca also noted that Congress has already passed three laws on human rights that prohibit the intervention of the armed forces in internal security.
The entities participating in the conference continue to insist that the measure is designed as a repressive move in the face of the large number of demonstrations that are occurring in Argentina amid a rapidly worsening economy.