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Americas

Following the stars in a call for the death penalty

Text by Antoine RAUX , FRANCE 24 correspondent in Argentina

Latest update : 2009-03-13

After three brutal murders in the space of a fortnight, Argentina’s biggest stars are calling for a return of the death penalty 24 years after it was abolished in the country. The media and the masses are heeding the call.

When Argentine TV star Susanna Gimenez’s hairdresser was brutally murdered in his house by three assailants, she called journalists and said: “Enough with human rights and all these stupidities. Those who kill deserve to die.”

 
Immediate impact
 

In a country where the details of murders and kidnappings are presented in full gory detail on television, Gimenez’s (pictured) comments hit home.

 

Although statistics do not show an actual significant increase in crime, insecurity over safety has become a major obsession for ordinary Argentines, who are fed up with a perceived rise in violent crime, explained in part by the youth of the perpetrators and the savagery of their actions. As one analyst puts it: “They have no code.”

 

According to Gimenez, it is time for the country to reintroduce the death penalty. In the days following her statement to the press, 8,000 Web users joined a Facebook discussion group – most of them in favour of capital punishment.

 

The country’s newspapers are also toeing the line, interviewing other celebrities and asking them their opinions on the issue. Many speak openly in Gimenez’s support.

 

Tango star Cacho Castana’s comments are typical: “Does someone who rapes a child deserve to be tried in court? If anyone hurts my family, I get my gun,” he said.

 

Popular singer Michel Sardou, a household name in Latin America, wrote a song entitled “I am for it”, referring to the death penalty. Sandro, an old and popular Argentine singer, said: “I don’t like the death penalty, I am a Catholic. But let’s not be hypocrites about this. Those who kill must die.”

 

Even Luis Alberto Spinetta, the “father” of Argentine rock music, opines: “I am not for the death penalty – but there are some people that deserve a bullet in the head.”

 
National protest
 

Under the banner “We’re fed up with insecurity”, a march will take place on April 18 to the Plaza de Mayo – the mythical plaza where mothers of those “disappeared” under Argentina’s brutal dictatorship, the 1976-83 "dirty war", hold a weekly vigil. But these national icons, who have always fought for justice in their country, are not convinced by this new call for the gallows’ return.

 

Date created : 2009-03-13

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