Journalism is fundamental to memory, truth and justice

One year since the Herald’s relaunch, Argentina’s socioeconomic crisis shows that our mission is more important than ever

Buenos Aires Herald editorial

It’s been a year to the day since the Buenos Aires Herald relaunched, and the past 12 months have shown in ways we could never have imagined that memory, truth, and justice are values we can never take for granted. 

Our first year saw the unprecedented rise and electoral victory of a president and vice who have not only openly denied the dictatorship’s atrocities since day one, but continually defended them while actively attacking Argentina’s human rights institutions. 

Just over 100 days after taking office, we have already seen the cancellation of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo’s TV show, mass layoffs at the Human Rights Secretariat, and the relativization of horrors of dictatorship by questioning the number of victims and disappeared. Since coming to power, the administration has continued to push this counter-narrative, using the Casa Rosada and official communications channels to promote the “two demons” denialist claim — publishing a video on March 24 presenting a false alternative history.

As if fewer deaths made a genocide less serious. 

The attacks on human rights have not been limited to the legacy of the dictatorship. The government has already announced a barrage of measures and draft legislation that endanger rights today. Security Minister Patricia Bullrich’s anti-protest protocol targets the right to protest. Her plans to loosen the rules on when members of the security forces can use lethal force, if they go ahead, will be a carte blanche for institutional violence and the excessive use of force. And Milei’s mega-decree and omnibus bill projects both go against vast swathes of our economic, social, and cultural rights, albeit with mixed results so far.

This onslaught comes as the country experiences the deepest socioeconomic crisis in decades, with Amnesty International highlighting economic impoverishment as a palpable setback of the first 100 days. Milei has responded to crises of external debt and inflation by cutting the state until you can see the bone. Soup kitchens are reporting that they are no longer receiving food aid, and the hungry sifting through heaps of trash to find something to eat are an increasingly common sight on the streets of Buenos Aires.

This shows that political and economic violence often move in lockstep. In his open letter to the Military Junta, journalist Rodolfo Walsh described their brutal economic policies as “a greater atrocity” than the massive political violence they were perpetrating. He decried stagnant wages, skyrocketing prices, and tripling workdays that “punish millions of human beings with planned misery.”

Faced with a president who said in his inaugural address that the population should brace for up to 40% inflation per month, his words ring startlingly true today.

We are just over three months into Milei’s presidency, and he has already shown that he is willing to violate the norms of democratic coexistence in crude, degrading, and offensive ways with a frequency that was unprecedented in Argentine society. 

As journalists, now more than ever, it is fundamental that we keep holding power to account. The government rejects this premise, attacking journalists, shutting down state news agency Télam (a key resource for all Argentine media outlets), laying off workers, and communicating its official activities through questionable social media accounts. 

Good-quality journalism is fundamental to a healthy and stable democracy. On this day of memory, truth, and justice, long may we keep reporting the news.


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