ROME – A Planned Parenthood-funded list in Argentina of supposed members of the “alt right” – including the country’s Catholic bishops – is being decried as harking back to the days of the country’s Dirty War.
A group of self-described progressive journalists created a website called Reacción Conservadora [Conservative Reaction], in which they have names, pictures and personal information of people and institutions that they claim are conspiring to prevent the broadening of abortion rights.
The list includes Argentina’s Catholic bishops, politicians, journalists, academics, medical doctors and even the daughter of a candidate for sainthood.
The website included an interactive map with logos of organizations and faces of individuals. When a person clicked on the images, it would open a file with personal information about them.
The list reminded its targets of similar blacklists employed by the military during the 1974-1983 Dirty war, when the regime “disappeared” thousands of political opponents.
Soon after the site was published, #ReaccionConservadora and #GestapoArgentina began trending in Twitter, with people both defending and attacking the initiative.
The outrage against the site forced the creators to take it down just hours after it went live on Sunday. Many of those featured on the website have said they would sue the six journalists involved. The website was financed by International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region.
Seeing the backlash on Twitter, the six journalists changed the status of their accounts to “private,” which means that only those who they approve can view their content. They’ve refused several requests for comment made by some of Argentina’s largest news organizations, including their employers.
The list includes over 400 people and institutions belonging to a wide-range of ideologies, including the conference of Catholic bishops; Nobel price nominee Abel Albino, who’s long fought against malnutrition in Argentina; The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; Opus Dei; the daughter of Enrique Shaw, a local business man recently declared as venerable by the Vatican; the D.C- based Capitol Ministries, and Human Life International.
Maria Ines Franck, the co-director of the bioethics center of Argentina’s Pontifical University, was listed on the website.
After seeing her name, she published a series of tweets in which she said she found it “funny” because she took it as a “grade-school work” with inaccurate information. She, however, added she thinks it’s good to “at least be noticed by people who until recently, ignored us.”
“A friend called to ask me if I was angry and I told him not at all!!!! In Argentina there is freedom of speech and freedom of the press for everyone, right?” Franck tweeted.
City governments controlled by different political parties were also included on the list because they promote programs that try to help women with unplanned or vulnerable pregnancies.
Argentina’s anti-discrimination law – Law 23.592 – warns against “discriminatory acts or omissions determined by reasons such as race, religion, nationality, ideology, political or trade union opinion, sex, economic position, social condition or physical characteristics.”
Fundación LED, and NGO defending freedom of speech and democracy in Argentina, said creating lists such as the one on Reacción Conservadora is a reason for “grave concern.”
“No person should be stigmatized, classified, catalogued or put on a list by virtue of his or her expressions, whatever their form, because this undoubtedly violates the freedom of thought and expression protected by our National Constitution and the regulations on Human Rights that govern our country within its constitutional hierarchy,” the organization said.
A specialist consulted by Clarín, a leading Argentinian newspaper, told the publication the country’s personal data protection law “prohibits the creation of databases with information on people’s affiliation and political ties, since current regulations consider them sensitive data.”
The main opposition coalition of Argentina, Juntos por el Cambio [Together for Change], issued a statement repudiating “the creation of blacklists.”
The coalition led by former President Mauricio Macri also said the website is stigmatizing people with the label “new right,” which is often used as a code for the “alt right” movement, which is a white nationalist, racist group.
“In protection of the rights of those who were pointed out in the inquisitorial map of Reacción Conservadora, we demand the compliance with Law 25.326, as well as the respect of the constitutional rights and guarantees that grant every citizen the freedom to express ideas without censorship and not to be disturbed for their ideology, race or religion,” the Juntos por el Cambio statement says.
Follow Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma