OPINION

Political crime

The decision awaited from the tribunal on whether terrorism is a political crime has touched off debate over the nature of the urban guerrilla group, a debate which started last summer. Sadly, public debate has not been free of sweeping statements. At the legal level, there is the constitutional provision on what constitutes a political crime and the anti-terrorism law which excludes terrorist acts from that category. The court’s ruling will determine the constitutional validity of the anti-terrorism law and not whether November 17 was a common criminal gang. Its crimes are serious but were mostly politically motivated. The fact that its members committed bank robberies does not change the situation. This is the manner in which guerrilla groups fund their activities. Terrorism is a distorted outgrowth of anti-establishment movements. The founders of these organizations were fanatics but still ideologues who undertook huge personal risk. They were characterized by a mixture of elitism and messianism, attracted to the «aesthetics of violence» and viewed their attacks as a ritual on the altar of a «higher cause.» Their guns filled them with arrogance; they felt like little gods. In truth, terrorism is the expression of an immoral illiteracy which always yields the opposite results of those desired. It results in the strengthening of state repression and the curtailment of civil liberties. It also turns the self-styled «urban guerrillas» into professional terrorists who often lapse into a lumpen type of behavior. The attempt to portray the defendants as common criminals is a form of unbearable propaganda. The manner in which the political elite and society has treated November 17 from 1975 until today proves the opposite. Our democracy has nothing to gain from some people’s phobias nor from propaganda tactics. The only way to eliminate the phenomenon is by demolishing its ideological underpinnings.