Fair to Francisco

Not gonna lie. When I read that the new pope had allegedly helped agents of the junta escape justice, I got angry. The source of the allegation was a Guardian article, linked to below, which cites a book written by Argentine journalist Horacio Verbitsky, who penned this article about Francisco in the newspaper that he co-founded, Pagina12 a center-left publication that allegedly is part owned by former-president and husband of the current president, Nestor Kirchner.

Verbitsky is a prolific journalist, the author of 20 books, and a former left-wing radical. His editorial says cryptically, that Francisco in “not forgetting Argentina” could play a role similar to John Paul II, who “opened the first hole in the European wall [iron curtain],” perhaps a Argentine pope could “fulfill the same role in the Latin American context.” One way he could do this is by “adopting historical causes, such as that of the Falklands.” (original quoted below)

The Kirchner administration has been heating up the rhetoric on the Falklands again, and the islanders voted nearly unanimously to stay part of the UK. Argentina rejected this plebiscite because it was a vote of “invaders.” This is a dangerous logic for anyone to employ, especially a country that was built on the elimination of natives. Furthermore, these are not recent “invaders.” When’s the cutoff?

If Kirchner and her supporters are hoping that an Argentine pope will intervene on this issue in their favor, they’re crazy. This is a politically stupid position to take because no one will want him to mediate for the very reason that he’s the Argentine pope.

If there is a Latin American left, one thing that they tend to share is a tribal, almost racial hatred not just of the American government, but of gringos in general. For Che Guevara’s comments on Cuzco, where he claimed only someone with the mixed lineage of a South American could understand as he scoffed at the North American tourists (Guevara was Spanish and Irish) to Hugo Chavez’s bombast, to the “death to the yanquis” cries at some of Evo Morales’s political rallies, it seems like Pan-Americanism from these folks fits more with Hannah Arendt’s description of Pan-movements as precursors to totalitarian regimes than they do with a general anti-neoliberal left that shares much in common with 99% of North Americans.

This isn’t a lame post-9/11 “why do they hate us” moment. I know why they hate us, why they think they should hate us, and why they feel justified in doing so. But if the “us” includes me, I can either try and reason with them that certainly their beef shouldn’t extend to every American or I’m on the other side.

In reality, Latin America has made a lot of progress and is headed in a good direction, thanks in no small part to its leftists (just like the US!) while Europe is stuck in the muck due to its reactionary economic posture.

If the following grafs seemed a bit non-sequitur its because you see a distinction between the British and the Americans. The Pan-Americanists don’t. Argentina seems slightly less inclined to use Americans as a foreign bogeyman and source of all their ills when they have the British right next door to do so.

Oh, and let’s not forget, this new flare up is, yes, partly due to economic problems at home, to Kirchner’s low approval rating, and, perhaps due to the fact that the navy had one of its warships foreclosed on. But it’s really about oil. Remember, fellow lefties, how terrible imperial wars for oil are?

I’m glad the new pope wasn’t (apparently) part of the dirty war. I’m glad there was a rush to point that out. I’m glad that the attention will contribute to more awareness about that, and perhaps even towards more awareness of the US’s own role in it. But the lame attempt by pro-government Argentines to jiujitsu their criticism of Francisco’s role (or lack thereof) in it into some kind of diplomatic advantage in their desire to conquer for oil seems stupid and pathetic. ¡Que boludo!

Ahora podrá hacerlo en otra escala, lo cual no quiere decir que se olvide de la Argentina. Si Pacelli recibió el financiamiento de la Inteligencia estadounidense para apuntalar a la democracia cristiana e impedir la victoria comunista en las primeras elecciones de la posguerra y si Wojtyla fue el ariete que abrió el primer hueco en el muro europeo, el papa argentino podrá cumplir el mismo rol en escala latinoamericana. Su pasada militancia en Guardia de Hierro, el discurso populista que no ha olvidado, y con el que podría incluso adoptar causas históricas como la de las Malvinas, lo habilitan para disputar la orientación de ese proceso, para apostrofar a los explotadores y predicar mansedumbre a los explotados.