ISSN: 1550-7521

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Research Article Open Access

Ominous Impunity: Rethinking State Terrorism in Argentina, Twenty Years After the Return of Democracy


During the last Argentinean dictatorship (1973-1983) thirty thousand people were tortured and made ‘disappeared’ by the Dictatorial State. For decades, commanders of the Argentinean Military Forces denied responsibility for these cases, either by pretending that the people were still alive, that they had left the country, or by acknowledging only a few cases of torture while justifying them as “excesses.” In 2003, the national commemorations for the twentieth anniversary of the return of democracy in Argentina coincided with a series of kidnappings (which extend to the present) and juridical debates that echoed those events. The essay is centered on the European countries’ petition for extradition of these repressors and the Argentinean Supreme Court’s decision, which continued to protect the repressor’s impunity. By articulating Lacanian theory and political philosophy, the author examines the notion of “impunity,” including its significance as it pertains to Symbolic Law and its consequences for subjectivity, and culture. The author suggests that instead of defining the Symbolic Law as a fixed mediation, it should be considered a permanent work of inscription. This inscription can aid in understanding subjective positions regarding social trauma. With this in mind, the author focuses on the psychoanalytic notion of act as impersonal and political, and hence essential for understanding the petition of justice in the Argentinean case.

Miguel Malagreca

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