International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Long Term Transition

Argentina underwent a period of transitional justice immediately after the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.  Their truth commission, CONADEP, produced a report called “Nunca Mas” or “Never Again,” and years later many of those most responsible for the tens of thousands of disappearances were held accountable for their crimes in prosecutorial trials.  Argentina, it seems, has undergone the full spectrum of transitional justice– retributive, restorative, reconciliatory, etc. In purely statistical terms, these processes seem to have worked.  No serious threat to democratic governance has arisen since the dictatorship fell in 1983.  However, remnants of that time period still remains.  Indeed, as the New York Times‘ Roger Cohen points out, the systems and political trends that fostered disaster decades ago, are still in place today.

Argentina is an interesting case because it is one of the few that scholars of transitional justice can study will perspective and clarity, given how much time has passed since the transition began. What has become increasingly clear with the Argentina case, therefore, is that there is more to transitional justice than simply addressing those/ that which is directly related to the atrocities themselves.  Whether or not Cohen’s harsh description of Peronism is fair and accurate, his point that the broader societal and political mechanisms in place in the 1970’s and 80’s are largely the same ones we see today. For a country to effectively move forward, a somewhat dramatic societal transformation must take place. Transitional justice is long-term, and its true success or failure cannot truly be judged without taking into account the societal landscape, and judging how much has really changed. In Argentina’s case, the answer is apparently, “not much.”

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