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14/11/2014 Buenos Aires Herald - Nota - Nota de tapa - Pag. 4 
Gov't faces friendly fire for Defence University 

Lawmakers turn proposal into law amid concern from progressive groups 
The ruling Victory Front (FpV) came under friendly fire yesterday after lawmakers allied with the national government voted to create the National Defence University, which will be under the direct supervision of Defence Minister Agustín Rossi and the heads of the armed forces. The law grants more power to the military to define the syllabus within their ranks with scant civilian supervision, whereas opposition lawmakers said the initiative will ultimately benefit controversial Army Chief César Milani, accused of human rights violations during the last military dictatorship that ruled the country between 1976 and 1983.
The law was approved with 112 votes in favour and 74 against of it.
After approving the nationalization of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo University, Kirchnerites were in the eye of the storm for promoting the creation of an educational centre for military officers. It was President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her Defence minister, Rossi, who promoted the creation of the university that groups together all the military institutes that exist throughout the country.
Kirchnerite lawmakers Jorge Rivas and Adriana Puiggrós — who used to head the Lower House's Education committee — opposed the initiative sponsored by the Kirchnerite administration.
The most controversial aspect of the law is that it gives academic autonomy to the university. Its board of directors will be made up of the Defence minister, the armed forces joint chief of staff and the heads of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force.
According to the law, it will also be open to civilians, not only military officers.
Kirchnerite lawmaker Martín Gill was in charge of defending the bill that had been approved by the Senate in May.
"This is part of the policy that seeks to democratize the armed forces that the government has been leading since 2003," Gill said.
According to the foundations of the bill, then-president Néstor Kirchner issued two decrees in 2003 to put personnel training in the hands of the Defence Ministry. Two years later, the ministry — which was then led by progressive minister Nilda Garré — created a commission to assess the military forces syllabus.
The commission uncovered that the three armed forces — the Navy, the Army and the Air Force — followed different syllabi for the studies and that they were not based on generally accepted human rights principles.
The members of the commission also said that the military academies were not in touch with the national universities to update the content of their syllabi.
The university — once it is created — will have its headquarters in Buenos Aires City but will have branches in seven other regions.
Puiggrós yesterday criticized the idea that the military officers will be in charge of designing the content for the university.
"We won't have this minister forever," Puiggrós warned. "We should be careful about the training we give younger officers, preventing them from disobeying the subordination to civilian authority," the leader of the Frente Grande (Broad Front) within the FpV said. Garré, who left the Defence Ministry in 2010 to head the Security Ministry until last year, was also a member of that political force that is aligned to Kirchnerism.
"The point should not be to create a military university that allows civilians to attend but rather to create a university for all citizens," the former Buenos Aires provincial Education minister said.
Along with Rivas, Puiggrós proposed the creation of a university of national defence based on late former president Juan Domingo Perón's idea of national defence. Perón used to say that the defence was not only a concern for the military but for the rest of the nation as a whole.
Puiggrós also criticized the bill because it did not ban people convicted or indicted for human rights violations.
"I don't want to think who could become an adviser for the university," the lawmaker said.
Radical (UCR) party José Riccardo explained that the UCR caucus was going to oppose the bill because it would mean the appointment of general Milani as a member of the university council.
Milani's appointment was approved last year by the Senate amid controversy from opposition parties and some human rights organizations.
Milani is accused of having taken part in the forced disappearance of conscript Aberto Agapito Ledo in Tucumán province in 1976 and was mentioned in La Rioja's Never Again 1984 report for allegedly being involved in abductions perpetrated during the dictatorship years. Milani denied having committed crimes against humanity and the government says he cannot be forced to step down due to the presumption of innocence principle.
Civic Coalition leader Elisa "Lilita" Carrió also criticized the proposal. "Milani is going to rule this university. You should not create a new Massera," she said in reference to Emilio Eduardo Massera, who commanded the Navy during the first years of the last dictatorship and was responsible for thousands of forced disappearances.
Herald staff

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