President of Argentina to Introduce Laws Outlawing All Forms of Religious and Racial Discrimination

Foreign Minister Dante Caputo of Argentina said here that the government of President Raul Alfonsin would introduce by the beginning of next month in the Argentine Congress a series of laws outlawing anti-Semitism, racism and all forms of discrimination based on religion, race, and sex.

“There will be strong penalties for public discrimination, and these laws will govern the behavior in the entire Argentine society,” Caputo told a delegation of American Jewish Committee leaders at the Argentinian Mission to the United Nations. The delegation was headed by Rita Hauser, chairperson of the AJC executive committee and a prominent international lawyer. The meeting was arranged by Dr. Marc Tanenbaum, director of the AJC’s International Relations Department.

Discussing foreign and domestic policy issues, in response to a series of concerns expressed by the AJC delegation over anti-Semitic violence in Argentina as well as over the role of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Argentina and other Latin American countries, Caputo said:

ALL FORMS OF TERRORISM CONDEMNED

“The government of President Alfonsin condemns all forms of terrorism. I can assure you that both internally and externally, we will insist on all legal means to combat terrorism. We have suffered from all forms of terrorism; it is not an abstraction to us; we know it firsthand. It is an absurb contradiction for us to fight terrorism internally and allow it to go on internally. Terrorism must be solved by law.”

Jacobo Kovadloff of Buenos Aires, the AJC’s director of Latin American affairs, reminded Caputo about the forcible closing of the AJC’s offices in Buenos Aires in June 1977 under the threat of rightwing death squads. Kovadloff, who at the time headed the AJC’s offices there, was forced to flee the country.

Caputo responded by saying: “We invite the American Jewish Committee to return and reopen your offices. It would be a good symbol. The reasons which prompted the closing are finished. We not only welcome your return but pledge to give you all the assistance you need to reopen and function in Argentina.”

In answer to criticisms over past votes of Argentinian representatives to United Nations bodies who supported anti-Israel resolutions, including the infamous 1974 General Assembly resolutions equating Zionism with racism, Caputo said: “We will seek to rectify our votes on these issues. We will change the erratic, irrational, and improvised character of Argentina’s foreign policy. We will not vote at the UN or elsewhere just because others want us to.”

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