This week marks the ninth anniversary of the most deadly antisemitic attack since World War II: the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people.
To this day, the crime remains unsolved and families of the victims continue their fight for justice. Argentina’s investigation has been marred by bureaucratic stalling, poor police work and political maneuvering.
Some progress has been made during the last year, raising hopes that justice may yet be done. An Argentinian judge issued a long-awaited indictment against Hezbollah and Iranian officials implicated in the crime. Prosecutors are pushing ahead with efforts to convict former police officers accused of playing a role.
Still more progress is promised by Argentina’s newly elected president, Nestor Kirchner. Just weeks in office, he has ordered the country’s intelligence service to open its files regarding the case and have its operatives testify in the trial of the former police officers. He’s also taken a symbolically important step in announcing that he would attend this week’s anniversary ceremony at the site of the bombing, the first Argentinian president to do so.
But despite these signs of progress, vigilance is still required. Every Argentinian president in recent years has vowed to solve the case when taking office, only to fall short.
A new era of accountability at the Argentine secret service, known by its Spanish acronym SIDE, would certainly help advance the investigation. In the past, the spooks have been accused of manipulating evidence and bribing witnesses. An in-depth look into their shadowy activities is long overdue. The same can be said for local and federal police agencies.
History suggests that solving the case will ultimately require more than words and executive orders from Kirchner. The new president must put his full political weight behind the investigation and keep it there, to head off further delay and cover-up. Otherwise, bereaved families will still be protesting when the 10th anniversary of the bombing rolls around.