"There's Only One Totalitarian Regime...

CounterPunch sitka at teleport.com
Mon Aug 9 09:20:24 PDT 1999

in Latin America," says Bill Clinton. And it's not this one...

Argentine Police Told To Shoot Criminals First - Ask Questions Later



BUENOS AIRES - Argentine Vice President Carlos Ruckauf urged police Wednesday to shoot criminals without warning, aiming for their arms or legs.

"I'm not saying the police should kill robbers, but they should shoot them in the leg or in the arm. What you can't do is shout at the criminal to stop and so give him time to shoot the policeman or the member of the public,'' Ruckauf told local radio.

"When a criminal is attacking someone, you've got to eliminate the criminal because he is trying to kill a member of the public,'' he said.

Ruckauf, a ruling Peronist Party candidate, is running for governor of Buenos Aires province, home to more than a third of Argentina's 36 million people, in national elections on Oct. 24.

Center-left Alliance candidate Graciela Fernandez Meijide, who holds a slight lead over Ruckauf in polls ahead of the election, dismissed his proposal as "ridiculous.''

"We all know that crime rises when people are economically desperate,'' she said. Ruckauf said that a law requiring police to identify themselves and wait for criminals to fire at them before firing back only put officers at risk. More than 35 police officers have died in the line of duty so far this year.

Opinion polls say Argentine voters see the rising crime rate as one of the country's top problems together with corruption and unemployment.

Argentina's security forces labor under a reputation for corruption and brutality earned during the 1976-83 military dictatorship, when up to 30,000 suspected leftists were killed or made to "disappear'' " including Fernandez Meijide's son.

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