Argentina Launches Military Conscription By Another Name

By Stella Calloni on July 16, 2019

Amidst the presidential campaign, Argentinean President Mauricio Macri has decided to establish a Voluntary Civic Service under the aegis of the Security Ministry for young people between the ages of 16 and 20 years of age. Rejection of the idea is already taking place among the population as chief of the Cabinet of Ministers Marcos Peña has already authorized a trial plan beginning now in the province of Buenos Aires and other provinces.

These “Trials” will last until December 31, 2019 and the program would be definitively and gradually implemented by the National Gendarmerie security forces in 2020 if Macri wins reelection next October.

The Voluntary Civic Service is really nothing more than military conscription by another name and is described as “training in democratic and republican values” that will be implemented in six military barracks in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Santiago del Estero in the north, Rio Negro at the northern edge of Patagonia, and Mendoza in the western central part of the country.

There has been a rapid widespread rejection against it. “Fostering values has nothing to do with training by the Security Forces in military barracks,” warned Mendoza province Deputy Guillermo Carmona.

“Why would a Gendarmerie official be in better conditions to educating and training than a teacher? Why don’t they use the two ministries designed for that, the Social Development and the one for Education?,” stated Deputy Agustin Rossi, while also opposition Deputy Graciela Camaño described the actions as mere brain washing.

Nobel Peace Prize Adolfo Perez Esquivel stated that “This does not help democracy at all.” He also recalled that the Gendarmerie was responsible for the disappearance and subsequent death of indigenous rights activist Santiago Maldonado in 2017.

President Mauricio Macri also has prepared a decree to “declare the Lebanese Shia militia Hezbollah as a terrorist organization” on the 25th anniversary of the bombing of the Jewish association AMIA in Buenos Aires, which resulted in 85 deaths and over 300 wounded.  The event will coincide with the visit on Friday of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who will preside over the Second Hemispheric Ministerial Conference on the Fight against Terrorism.

The event is going to be attended by counter-terrorism experts from the region. The idea is that they back the United States and Israel’s proposal of declaring Hezbollah a terrorist organization, among other measures that would be assumed regarding this complex sensitive issue for Latin America.

Argentina’s Human Rights Secretary Claudio Avruj noted that government will also be creating a “register of people and agencies linked to terrorism and its funding,” a decision being condemned by human rights, political and social organizations in the country given that it will puts at risk all militant and progressive organizations and individuals in opposition to Macri and his extreme neo liberal direction.

Source: La Jornada, translation, Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau