Argentinean president, addressing Jewish group, vows progress on AMIA probe

Marcy Oster

Argentinean President Mauricio Macri addressing delegates of the World Jewish Congress in Buenos Aires, March 15, 2016. (World Jewish Congress)

Argentinean President Mauricio Macri addressing delegates of the World Jewish Congress in Buenos Aires, March 15, 2016. (World Jewish Congress)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) – Argentinean President Mauricio Macri promised to “make headway” in investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in an address to Jewish leaders in Buenos Aires.

Macri addressed a meeting Tuesday night of the Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress, being held this week for first time ever in Latin America. The group’s plenary officially opens on Wednesday, and will include discussions of the 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center, both of which remain unresolved.

“We are fully committed to contribute in any way we can to make headway with this investigation,” said Macri, who reminded his audience that his government, during its first week in power in December, voided an agreement with Iran to jointly investigate the AMIA bombing, calling it “unconstitutional.”

“Here, we suffer the ravaging consequences of two bomb attacks. We are still in the dark of what happened,” Macri said.

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World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said the attacks on the Israeli embassy and AMIA “were not just attacks on Jews, but attacks on Argentina.” He also said that the killing of Alberto Nisman, the Argentinean lawyer who was investigating the AMIA bombing, was “not just an attack on a Jewish lawyer. This was an attack on Argentina’s entire system of justice.”

The Argentinean judiciary has not yet determined whether Nisman’s death was a homicide or suicide.

“President Macri, you have promised that, after all this time, Argentina will bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice,” Lauders said at the conference’s opening gala Tuesday at the Sheraton Hotel in Buenos Aires. “We believe you. We trust you. And the World Jewish Congress stands with you to help in any way that we can.”

Macri was joined at the event by his foreign minister, Susana Malcorra, and his human rights secretary, Claudio Avruj, a former executive director of DAIA, the Argentinian Jewish political umbrella.

Macri also spoke about the “historic ties” between Argentina and Israel, noting the large Argentinean community in Israel. He also revealed that at the last World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland in January, he told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “we want to boost our relationship in order for us to work closer than ever, in order to defend peace throughout the world.”

On Thursday, WJC delegates will participate in a ceremony marking the 24th anniversary of the attack on the Israeli embassy, during which Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett and Argentinean Vice President Gabriela Michetti will speak.

“Senior presidente,” Lauder said in Spanish Tuesday night, “the WJC came to your beautiful city because the Jewish community of Argentina is the largest and most successful in all of South and Latin America, and also because for more than 20 years the terrorists of three great crimes still have not been brought to justice.”

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