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Collaborationism with State Terrorism in Argentine Culture during the last Dictatorship (1976-83)

                 by Eduardo R. Saguier
Senior Researcher--CONICET

In a previous article of my authorship, I centered myself exclusively around the "moral indifference" figure, a sort of intermediate point between resistance and collaborationism extremes.[1] I would like to point out now in a deeper way over collaborationist connotations and nature, and over the complicity of de facto governments which practise state terrorism.

It is old as the world collaboration with despotic regimes, as the Egyptians pharahons can attest, Roman emperors, medieval popes, absolute monarchies, nineteenth century dictatorships and modern totalitarianism (fascism, nazism, stalinism). But it is also true that not all collaborationist regimes were of the same entity, as through human history different types of collaborationism were given, starting with collaborationism obtained by torture, through venal or economic collaborationism,  and through institutional and ideological collaborationism, as to achieve the maximum degree with state collaborationism, grade given during the last world wars by the states menaced by conquer or invasion (ej. Vichy France, Horthy's Hungary, Quisling's Norway).

In the lowest levels of the scale, the most hypocrite of the rotten or economic-tactical collaborationism was orientated towards the mere economic interest, as our history shows in innumerable examples in the recent past as well in remote situations. It is impossible to forget the political behaviour of the Communist Party during Videla's government for the purpose of warranting the corn sale to the Soviet Union. We remember always the Industrial Union behaviour, the Rural Society one and that of our great newspapers, interested voraciously in the Papel Prensa's public tender, which belonged to the Graiver-Papaleo family.

As far as institutional collaborationism is concerned we must establish a new difference in outlook, as union, clergy, education and culture collaborationism took place, which were not for free, as in the case of our union bureaucracy seduced by the control of trade-union social assistance, in case of the education bureaucracy with the granting of professional degrees, in the case of the church with the maintenance of the army's vicarage and the coverup of clergy's pedophilia and in the case of cultural collaborationism, as in the National Academies, they were bought with a lentil soup (subsidies for international congresses with the consequent presidential paying of humble respects publicly advertised).

As far as intellectual collaborationism is concerned it was the highest in the rank of responsibilities, as they were the more perverse and deleterious taking into account that they legitimated intellectually, in an active or passive way, the oppression and genocide, which have innumerable precedents in the history of mankind, unanimously condemned by historic judgement. This ideological collaborationism can be likewise segregated in mass media, university and scientific collaborationism, each one having also a different reach in the population. Certainly, the one which accounts with the largest dosis of responsibility is the mass media collaborationism, as it took over the task, during the last and genocidal dictatorship, to feed an irrational and blind hatred against the so called "subversives" and after the mentioned dictatorship, tried curiously to take on a pacifying role claiming for peace and forgetfulness, divulging until repletion the THEORY OF THE TWO DEMONS. Likewise, this mass media collaborationism must be segregated in written, radio and TV collaborationism, the same accounting with different reaches, where written collaborationism reaches the highest classes and the radio-TV media collaborationism (e.g.: Neustadt-Grondona´s political show) flooded common population [2]

The written collaboration analysis must be taken into account precisely not due to terrorist press and its lackey journalists (e.g.: newspaper Convicción) or the confiscated press (e.g.: La Opinion) but for two articles, published on Saturday August 16th, 2003, on La Nacion newspaper, signed by journalists Felix Luna and Santiago Kovadloff, in which those intellectuals confuse on purpose the historic truth by not differing state terrorism practised by legitimate governments (Triple A gang) from that practised by illegitimate governments, giving way to a known demonic theogony, metamorphosed with a dignified varnish of jesuit characteristics. How is it possible that Felix Luna, who aside from being a journalist acts as an historian, who shows himself "sad" and "confused" because a legitimate government tries to judge the dark past of an illegitimate government which has still not been punished? How is it possible that Luna the historian evokes with praise the firing of Cuitiño, Badia, Alen and other fellow murderers (Mazorqueros during Rosas dictatorship in the first half of the Nineteenth century) and I also suppose the death sentence of aide-de-camp Antonino Reyes, practised by State of Buenos Aires authorities, for simultaneously discrediting that praise supporting the idea that it was a cleaning out (blanqueo) by the city of Buenos Aires people, of Rosas terrorism accomplice, and in exchange when he refers to our own present reality, where they prevail the non still-punished state terrorists  (who have not been duly judged, not even dreaming of their execution) he tries to suggest a convenient contradictory, cynical and eternal amnesia? How is it possible that historian Luna calls for the closing of a Pandora box when his own person, from the Todo es Historia journal, tired himself of using during the Proceso a domestic institutional self-censorship, and I want to believe free from official advertising --similar to that practised by Pedro de Angelis in Rosas' Buenos Aires-- its publication never being forbidden nor censored?

How is it possible that a lucid journalist as Santiago Kovadloff falls into the Bicephalous Demon theory implementation equaling state terrorists to those that for better or worse tried to resist uselessly and daringly state terrorism? From which other way could be interpreted of his equal characterization of "inflexibility", "intolerance", "intransigence" and "aversion", expressed from a newspaper which in times of the Proceso kept a prudent and accomplice silence over State Terrorism? Or is it that those newspapers search rented penmanship to avoid investigation of its own corrupt collaboration with State Terrorism?

I must point out that for state terrorism to be definitively erased from the people and civil society justified fears not only the material authors of crimes against human rights should be prosecuted and condemned but also identify and punish the state-terrorism intellectual collaborators.


(1) see Eduardo R. Saguier: Moral Indifference during Dictatorship about the Desaparecidos on the part of an Argentine Intellectual Elite. The Halperín Donghi Case.

(2) see Avellaneda, 1986; and Knudson, 1997.


Avellaneda, Andrés (1986): Censura, autoritarismo y cultura: Argentina, 1960-1983 (Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, Biblioteca Política Argentina, nos.: 156-158);

Knudson, Jerry W. (1997): Veil of silence: the Argentine  press and the Dirty War, 1976-1983. (Latin American Perspectives, 24:6, Nov. 1997, p. 93-112, bibl.)

Eduardo R. Saguier

Posts: 9 | Posted: 10:50 AM on September 9, 2003 | IP
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