Critics say Argentina’s pro-life blacklist uses dirty war tactics
A Planned Parenthood-funded list in Argentina of supposed members of the “alternative right” – including the country’s Catholic bishops – is decried as reminiscent of the country’s dirty war era.
A group of self-proclaimed progressive journalists have created a website called Reacción Conservadora [Conservative Reaction], in which they have names, photos and personal information of people and institutions that they believe are conspiring to prevent the expansion of abortion rights.
The list includes the Catholic bishops of Argentina, politicians, journalists, academics, doctors and even the daughter of a candidate for holiness.
The website included an interactive map with logos of organizations and faces of individuals. When a person clicked on the images, they opened a file with personal information about them.
The list reminded its targets of similar blacklists used by the military during the dirty war of 1974-1983, when the regime “wiped out” thousands of political opponents.
Soon after the site’s publication, #ReaccionConservadora and #GestapoArgentina began appearing on Twitter, with people both defending and attacking the initiative.
Outrage at the site forced the creators to take it down just hours after it went live on Sunday. Many people on the website said they would prosecute the six journalists involved. The website was funded by the International Planned Parenthood Federation / Western Hemisphere Region.
Seeing the backlash on Twitter, the six reporters changed the status of their accounts to “private,” meaning only those they approve of can see their content. They declined multiple requests for comment from some of Argentina’s biggest news agencies, including their employers.
The list includes more than 400 people and institutions belonging to a wide range of ideologies, including the Conference of Catholic Bishops; Nobel Prize nominee Abel Albino, who has long battled malnutrition in Argentina; the Billy Graham Evangelical Association; Opus Dei; the daughter of Enrique Shaw, a local businessman recently declared venerable by the Vatican; Washington-based Capitol Ministries and Human Life International.
Maria Ines Franck, co-director of the bioethics center of the Pontifical University of Argentina, was featured on the site.
After seeing his name, she posted a series of tweets in which she said she found it “funny” because she considered it “school work” with inaccurate information. She added, however, that she thinks it is good to “at least be noticed by people who until recently ignored us”.
“A friend called me to ask me if I was angry and I told him not at all !!!! In Argentina, there is freedom of speech and freedom of the press for everyone, right? Franck tweeted.
Municipal governments controlled by different political parties have also been included on the list as they promote programs that attempt to help women with unplanned or vulnerable pregnancies.
Argentina’s anti-discrimination law – Law 23.592 – warns against “discriminatory acts or omissions determined by reasons such as race, religion, nationality, ideology, political or union opinions, gender, economic position, social condition or physical characteristics ”.
LED Foundation, and an NGO defending freedom of expression and democracy in Argentina, said they created lists such as the one on Reacción Conservadora is a cause of “serious concern”.
“No one should be stigmatized, classified, cataloged or inscribed on a list because of his expressions, whatever the form, because this undoubtedly infringes the freedom of thought and expression protected by our national Constitution and the human rights regulations that govern our country within its constitutional hierarchy, ”said the organization.
A specialist consulted by Clarin, a leading Argentinian newspaper, told the publication that the country’s personal data protection law “prohibits the creation of databases containing information about people’s affiliation and political ties, as current regulations consider them as sensitive data ”.
Argentina’s main opposition coalition, Juntos por el Cambio [Together for Change], issued a statement rejecting “the creation of blacklists”.
The coalition led by former President Mauricio Macri also said the website stigmatized people with the “new right” label, which is often used as a code for the “alt right” movement, which is a white nationalist group and racist.
“In the protection of the rights of those who were indicated in the inquisitorial map of Reacción Conservadora, we demand respect for Law 25.326, as well as respect for constitutional rights and guarantees which grant each citizen the freedom to express ideas without censorship and not to be disturbed for their ideology, race or religion ”, the Juntos por el Cambio says the declaration.