The Nisman Case: A Nation Holds Its Breath

EspañolThe death of the prosecutor Alberto Nisman, in charge of the investigation into the 1994 bombing of the Argentinean Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires, has millions of Argentineans on tenterhooks. Many of us are glued to the television and the radio at the same time.

The Nisman case has dominated conversation in all circles of life. In a taxi journey, at after-work drinks with friends, during a working lunch, in a brief elevator encounters, or warming up for a football game, the topic is the same.

La muerte del fiscal ha hecho a los argentinos preguntarse qué clase de justicia tienen (Flickr)
The death of prosecutor Nisman has raised serious questions about the Argentinean justice system. (Flickr)

There’s a thirst for truth and justice that’s impossible to hide. As investigations continue, we’re throwing out our own hypotheses. We’ve all become amateur versions of Arthur Conan Doyle characters, each playing the role of Agatha Christie’s Poirot.

As if through some magic intuition — aided perhaps by years of impunity in corruption cases — we’ve known from the start that “they” killed the prosecutor. But who were “they?” And more importantly still, why did they kill him?

So we begin to piece together all the threads, and we can’t believe our eyes. Could it be that a former member of the state intelligence services lowered himself down onto the balcony, entered the apartment, and shot the prosecutor? Or that he then slipped away through the third access point to Nisman’s apartment, via a narrow passageway housing the air conditioning units? It seems like something out of a Mission Impossible script.

A Nation Holds Its Breath

Foreign visitors who come to Buenos Aires often tell me that they’re struck by the amount of graffiti and tags adorning the walls and streets of the city.

But in contrast to other cases that have grabbed the attention of Argentineans, such as the confrontation between vulture funds and the government, the streets have been eerily lacking any visual response — artistic, scrawled, or otherwise — to Nisman’s death.

What has drawn criticism, however, was President Cristina Kirchner’s decision to publicize two self-penned letters concerning the Nisman case through her Twitter account. This, while she meanwhile uses her privileged access to national television and radio channels to call attention to categorically less important topics.

The case has unveiled at a stroke the corruption and mafioso-like culture of the Intelligence Secretariat (SI), reopening wounds that have never really healed since 1994. What happened to the judicial official, and the swirling doubts and speculation that surround his death, make the accusations of bribery confronting Vice President Amado Boudou seem trivial.

The death of prosecutor Nisman was a blow to every citizen, a cry for justice to be heard, an alarm in all of our consciences. We need answers: for Nisman, for the 85 victims of the AMIA bombing, and for the Republic.

Translated by Laurie Blair.

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