Argentina’s government is using the G20 leaders’ summit, which starts in late November, as an excuse to further toughen its hardline discourse against social protest and street demonstrations and to exaggerate its “war” on terrorism.
On the one hand, in a bid to discourage people and spread fear, it is releasing information suggesting that numerous national and international organizations can be linked to destabilizing or terrorist practices, without providing any proof, and that they are being investigated. At the same time, the government bought software for mass surveillance from Israel and is letting media outlets know that it is surveilling groups that plan to speak out against the G20. What these organizations have in common is their opposition to that group of countries’ economic agenda. However, from the government’s perspective, criticism of the G20 is equivalent to destabilization attempts.
In recent days, this scenario has worsened: the government has blown incidents out of proportion with the aim of constructing the notion of internal enemies. This occurred with members of the Muslim community, who have been forced to explain that they are not terrorists as a result of the sensationalistic staging of a police raid promoted by the Security Ministry.
In the run-up to the G20 activities and the counter-summit, the government is fueling a fear campaign with the goal of intimidating those who want to protest, demobilizing and deactivating the demonstrations. The illegal surveillance, the threat of repression and criminalization, and any other form of intimidation, are limits on fundamental democratic rights such as the freedom of expression and the right of assembly.
At the same time, Argentina’s government is using the pretext of the G20 to push the boundary that separates legal intelligence from illegal spying. By law, organizations cannot be surveilled because of their political opinions. Doing this amounts not to the prevention of terrorism, but rather to the illegal surveillance of dissidence. In addition, publicizing these actions serves to demonize social sectors and groups.
Today Security Minister Patricia Bullrich called on people to stay away from Buenos Aires on November 30 (the day the leaders’ summit begins), threatening greater levels of state violence. We hope this is not the foretelling of another roundup of protesters, with even worse consequences than what we have seen in the last few years.
Photo: Security Ministry, Nov. 16, 2018