The brutality of Thursday's attack on former economy minister Roberto Alemann by pro-Castro demonstrators was only equalled by its cowardice _ some 30 youths picking on an old man of 81. Ironically enough, the group perpetrating this vile attack calls itself the Anti-Imperialist Movement for World Peace _ its commitment to world peace would seem to be even less sincere than that of beauty pageant contestants.
Condemning such savage violence is (or should be) obvious but it is also worth underlining its stupidity. Protesting the right of the CADAL seminar to express its opinion on Fidel Castro's Cuba and (even more) beating up Alemann for no other reason than his extremely lucid defence of a market economy only go to prove the Castro critics right in their accusations of oppression. The violence is all the more gratuitous considering that the assailants already have what they want _ the N‚stor Kirchner administration pledged itself a long time ago to not voting for a probe of Cuba's human rights record at next month's United Nations Human Rights Committee vote in Geneva. Mindless though the attack might have been, it was no accident _ Alemann (a readily recognizable figure due to his imposing height) was similarly attacked by leftist louts two Marches ago.
On that occasion the journalist Jorge Lanata said that he wished a "civil death" on Alemann _ it is to be hoped that progressive intellectuals espousing libertarian values express more solidarity this time. But it is even more important that the government abandon its passive attitude towards such outrages (especially when coming from the left side of the political spectrum). Why wasn't Justice Minister Gustavo Beliz denouncing this despicable attack on Thursday instead of announcing the government's intention of abstaining from the Geneva vote on Cuba's human rights record over the past year long before that year has run its course (next month Beliz will be travelling all the way to Geneva to abstain _ surely the most active abstention in history)? In the same week as the assault on Alemann, former first lady Hilda "Chiche" Gonz lez de Duhalde was quoted as saying that any picket with a mask and a stick was a criminal. If the wife of Kirchner's main political ally thus comes out saying that merely wielding sticks is a crime, what is the government waiting for to move against those who actually use them or at any rate batter people?