The number and nature of antisemitic incidents in Argentina
has remained relatively unchanged since 1999. One hundred and seventy-two
antisemitic manifestations were recorded in 2001, including a mail bombing. The
oral public trial of 20 persons accused of bombing the AMIA building in 1994
failed to throw light on the chain of events that led up to the attack because
of the obstructionist tactics of local police officers.
THE JEWISH COMMUNITY
200,000 Jews out of a total population of over 35 million, Argentina has the
largest Jewish community in Latin America. The great majority of Jews live in Buenos
Aires and its environs; however, there are also sizable communities in Rosario,
Córdoba and Santa Fe. Most Argentinean Jews are the descendants of
nineteenth and twentieth century immigrants from Europe and the Middle East.
The Jewish community maintains many educational, cultural and
religious institutions, including a Hebrew and a Yiddish press, publishing
houses and an educational system from kindergarten through university. The
leading Jewish organization is DAIA (Delegación de Asociaciones
Israelitas Argentinas), which represents communities and organizations to the
authorities and is responsible for safeguarding the rights of members. AMIA
(Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina) is the main community organization.
The Vaad ha-Kehilot is the umbrella organization of all the communities in the
In recent years the economic situation of Jews in Argentina
has deteriorated severely, particularly in the wake of the collapse of Jewish
banks, and ultimately of the entire economy. In January 2002 at an assembly
convoked by the DAIA, with the participation of representatives of all the
institutional factors, the Argentinean Jewish community declared itself in a
state of emergency. Social welfare institutions have been hard pressed to keep
up with the heavy demand for their services. Donations from other Jewish
communities have helped sustain them. There has been a dramatic rise in the number
of applications for aliya, as well as for emigration to other parts of
the world, notably Spanish-speaking countries in Central America as well as Spain.
The two leading neo-Nazi
organizations in Argentina are the Partido Nuevo Triumfo and the Partido Nuevo
Orden Social. Both have antisemitic leanings and deny the Holocaust. Their
political platforms, which are carefully formulated to circumvent the
anti-discrimination law, are similar and appeal to the same public.
Of the two
groups, the Partido Nuevo Triunfo (PNT) is the better organized, with a
highly developed website to propagate its ideas. It is waging a legal battle to
become officially recognized as a party. Founded in 1990, PNT is a continuation
of Alerta Nacional, which in the late 1980s was affliliated with the Peronist party.
Alejandro Biondini, leader of PNT and a former Peronist, incorporates Peronist
principles, as well as those of other 19th and 20th century Argentinean nationalist
figures (Emelio Massera, Mohamed Ali Seineldin, Miguel Etchecolatz), in his
party’s ideology. He uses the pseudonym Kalki, taken from Hindi
mythology. The PNT youth branch is Juventud Nacional Socialista Argentina,
(National Socialist Argentinean Youth –
JNSA), led by Ricardo Macciono.
During the early 1990s the party began to
use a symbol that is just different enough from a swastika to avoid the anti-discrimination law.
When Biondini was convicted in 1996 of violating the anti-discrimination law,
he moved his activities to the Internet, founding the online publication Libertad de Opinion. In September 1999 he established
the website Ciudad Libertad de Opinion, which has since developed into a
major portal, in Spanish and several other European languages, to neo-Nazi
organizations in Latin
America and Europe, and which provides links to 300 extreme right and
antisemitic web pages around the world. “The Andinia Plan” (a local version, by
Walter Beveraggi Allende, of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which
alleges a Jewish conspiracy to conquer southern Argentina in the 1970s,) and Holocaust denial literature are among the
propaganda materials that may be accessed. The party has its own news agency, known
also as Kalki.
In 1999 PNT began selling the printed
version of Libertad de Opinion on the streets of Buenos Aires. During 2000–1 the journal included
articles praising Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime, speeches of Nazi leaders, and
texts denying and trivializing the Holocaust, and promoting Holocaust deniers
such as Fred Leuchter, David Irving, Ernst Zündel and Robert Faurisson.
Other commentaries applauded the electoral success of Jörg Haider in Austria; and supported the aborted National Socialist congress in Chile in 2000 (see ASW 1999/2000,
The government of Argentinean President Fernando de la Rua, which fell in
December 2001, was characterized as a “radical synagogue” (referring to alleged
Jewish influence in the president’s party, Unión Cívica Radical –
UCR), and de la Rua himself was accused of submitting to international Jewish and
Israeli blackmail. The latter theme recurred in many extreme right nationalist
publications (see below). There were also expressions of solidarity with Hector
Buela, owner of the El Walhalla Publishing House, accused of disseminating
antisemitic videos (the case is sub-judice). In regard to the bombing of the
Israeli embassy (1992) and the AMIA building (1994), the PNT blamed “local Jewish
religious extremists” for the attacks.
The Partido Nuevo Orden Social
(PNOSP) has been led by Alejandro Ivan Franze since its establishment in 1994. Since
its activities were banned in 2000 (see ASW 2000/1),
members meet privately and participate in demonstrations and parades of other
groups. A university section, Centuria Nacional, was set up in 1999 and the
organization also operates in secondary schools under the name Trinchera
Nacional. According to Franze in September 2000, PNOSP’s center of activity
is San Fernando, and it has branches in other parts
of the country, including the Buenos Aires
area. The organization claims a membership of 200, but this figure may be
The publication Nuestra sera la
victoria, which has appeared irregularly since 1996, is distributed in Buenos Aires city and suburbs. Its editor and
owner is Gustavo Valuch. PNOSP also publishes Ultima Thule solely for
distribution among party militants, so that its xenophobia and antisemism can
appear undisguisedly, such as the “scientific differences” between a “pure Aryan,”
a Negro and a Jew. The publication appears without an address, phone number or
responsible editor in order to evade the anti-discrimination law.
Several Argentinean music groups express
xenophobic and anti-Jewish themes in their songs. These groups include
Ultrasur, Razon y Fuerza, Fuerza Nuremberg, Crisis Nerviosa and Comando Suicida.
The ongoing economic crisis in Argentina does not seem to have affected the
level of antisemitism. The DAIA Social Research Center reported the geographic
distribution of the 172 antisemitic manifestations recorded in 2001 as follows:
City of Buenos Aires – 72.86 percent; Buenos Aires suburbs – 4.62 percent;
other provinces (including Buenos Aires province) – 10.96 percent; location unspecified
– 11.56 percent. The number (and nature) of antisemitic manifestations has
remained relatively unchanged since 1999 (166 incidents in 1999; 177 in 2000). However,
geographically, there was a slight shift from Buenos Aires city and suburbs (85 percent in 2000 as against 77 percent
in 2001)to the the provinces (7.34 in 2000 as against 10.96 percent in 2001).
Threats and Insults
A Jewish musician in Buenos Aires was the target of a violent incident on 7 April. He was
badly injured in a mail bomb explosion after he opened a package sent from the province of San Juan. A swastika and the letters SS appeared on the cover of the
After the surname Levy was mentioned
on a program screened on Holocaust Memorial Day, 19 April, in the city of Rosario, two Jewish individuals with that name
received abusive mail which contained threats and swastikas; the letters were
sent from the city’s main post office.
A month before the re-dedication, on
1–2 September 2001, of the reconstructed AMIA building, police received five
anonymous calls threatening to blow up the building again.
On 26 March 2001, the Jewish Agency’s education
department in Buenos
Aires received an e-mail with the PNT party
flag and the slogan “Muerte a los Judio” (Death to the Jews).
appears mainly in publications of the extreme right. The mainstream media may
be critical of Israeli policy but since the attacks on the Israeli embassy and
the AMIA building it has been careful to avoid expressions that might be
interpreted as antisemitic. After 11 September, some articles of the far right
that attacked the US and its association with Israel contained anti-Zionism and
In addition to the party publications
mentioned above, the following extreme right, nationalist journals contain
Argentina (in print and online): This is the oldest and
most regular of the antisemitic publications. Nationalistic Catholic Integrist
in orientation and formerly linked to the now defunct Movimiento
Nacionalista de Restauracion, it has appeared monthly since 1985 and is distributed
nationally. Until December 2001 it was edited by Elias Rafiaa and since
then by Santiago Roque Alonso. It refers to alleged Jewish control of the
local press and financial institutions; “a world Jewish Zionist and
Masonic state”; “anti-Christian Jewish Zionism”; The Protocols of the
Elders of Zion; Judaization of the country under Talmudic laws; the
Holocaust as a “Jewish business”; and ex-President de la Rua and the
political opposition as servants of “international Judaism and the State
of Israel.” It also recommends that “The Andinia Plan” (see above) be a
compulsory text in schools.
(in print and
online): This is a traditionalist Catholic, nationalist publication that was
the organ of the Movimiento Restauracion Nacionalista in the 1960s and 1970s. Managed
by Antonio Caponnetto and Victor Ordonez, it is distributed in Buenos Aires and its environs. The journal has
criticized the Catholic Church for asking forgiveness for its role during the
Crusades, the Inquisition and the Holocaust, and opposes religious pluralism in
Argentina, such as the introduction of a day celebrating cultural diversity (Dia
de al Convivencia en la Diversidad Cultural) into the school calendar. In
regard to a debate in Catamarca province concerning the controversial issue of
compulsory religious education, Cabildo attacked the DAIA for its lack
of respect for the Catholic religion and asserted that the Catholic religion
must be defended against the Jewish community. In 2000/1 it published articles
identifying with Holocaust deniers such as David Irving (UK) and Robert Garaudy
and Robert Faurisson (France). The journal blames the Jews for
adoption of the anti-discrimination law.
Fortin: The journal, edited by Marcos Ghio, director of the fascist
Evolean study center (Centro de Estudios Evolianos y de la Concentración
Nacionalista Argentina), appeared only once in 2000/1. Its Internet site, Centro
de Estudios Evolianos; supported the election of Austrian leader
Jörg Haider and defended Hector Buela (see above).
Mosquito: This is a local publication, distributed free since 1982, in
the upper class Vincente López and Buenos Aires suburbs. Owners and
managers Ernesto Mosto and Ernesto Capristo influence the content of other
local publications as well with their extremely nationalistic,
pro-Islamist and anti-Israel opinions. Their articles have supported Hizballah
and suicide bombings in Israel, denounced “Zionist influence” in the
government of Fernando de la Rua and criticized the government for
maintaining the Museum of the Shoah in Buenos Aires. Their website claimed
that the bombing of the Israeli embassy (1992) and the AMIA building
(1994) were carried out by “international Zionism,” and accused the DAIA of
being dominated by Zionists who were conspiring against Argentina.
RESPONSES TO racism AND ANTISEMITISM
The AMIA Case
The oral public trial (normally trials in Argentina are
conducted by written communication) of 20 persons accused of bombing the AMIA
building in 1994 began in Buenos Aires on 24 September 2001. An oral trial had been ordered by chief investigating judge Juan Jose Galeano, in order to
discover the chain of events in the week that led up to the attack on 18 July. A
key defendant, whose testimony was expected to be crucial, was Carlos
Telleldin, a garage owner and dealer in stolen car parts who delivered the
vehicle used in the attack to a group of policemen. However, the oral trial
failed to throw any light on this case due to the obstructionist tactics of
local police officers (for more on the investigation and trials, see ASW1995/6
to 2000/1 and http://www.jus.gov.ar/minjus/amia/Default2.htm).
Besides suspicions of
Iranian and/or Syrian involvement, on 19 October 2001, an Argentinean diplomat
in Geneva alleged involvement of Usama bin Ladin’s al-Qa‘ida in the bombing of both
AMIA and the Israeli embassy in 1992. US experts, however, reject this theory,
maintaining that Iranian-backed Muslim extremists were responsible for the
attacks. Iran has denied any involvement.
In July 2002, the New
York Times revealed that former President Carlos Menem had received a large
sum of money from Iran in order to obstruct the investigation of the AMIA
bombing. The matter is being investigated by the Argentinean judicial
The case against legalizing the PNT and the PNOSP is
continuing. The government has asked the Justice Ministry not to legalize these
parties, because they “incite to violence and antisemitic hatred,” vindicate Hitler”
and their ideology is anti-democratic (see also ASW 2000/1).
The minister of justice and the deputy secretary of human rights have appealed
to Federal Judge Maria Romolda Servini de Cubria not to legalize these organizations
on the grounds that this would violate the Ley de Ministerios, which guarantees
the equality of individuals and groups.
In 2001 there was an oral retrial of three
neo-Nazi skinheads who attacked a non-Jewish youth in 1995, while uttering
antisemitic slurs (see ASW
1999/2000).The skinheads had been acquitted by a judicial panel that
was subsequently accused by the DAIA and the Permanent Assembly for Human
Rights of being too “lenient with antisemitism.” The re-trial judge convicted
the youths under the anti discrimination law and sentenced them to three years in
Federal judge of San Martin Alfredo Bustos
has demanded that the Yahoo! Internet portal be blocked because it hosts
a site that disseminates Nazi ideology and sells Nazi literature and paraphernalia.
The guilty verdict of ex
General Carlos Guillermo Suarez Mason was confirmed by the Federal Court of
Justice of Buenos Aires in 2001. Mason was convicted under the
anti-discrimination law for antisemitic remarks he made in an interview in 1996