Today, my column is in English, because I want the world to know. Most Dutch people do not like fascism, nor are we a fan of those involved in and/or formal responsible for mass murder. We want a fair justice system, and no class justice. So dear all, please do not hold us accountable for providing mister Jorge Zorreguieta such a wonderful welcome in our country. We do know, and no-one today can say ‘we didn’t know’.
I am ashamed the media and politicians are pretending we are having a national discussion on: Can Jorge Zorreguieta be present at formal state events? If he, like he claims, didn’t know about all the human rights violations in Argentina and he indeed is a good person, he would show regrets for having supported the regime and would now help the victims get some closure. If he truly cares so much about his daughter and her future, he himself would make a statement how “…it is best for everyone if he wouldn’t be at important events in the Netherlands, though in his heart he is with us all, as he does not want to offend anyone, even though it would be –again- with all good intentions…” or something similar. A statement like that, would give him some credits, with those who now feel angry every time a nice picture of him and the Queen is in the newspapers, showing them joyfully together at the next society event.
The regime of dictator Jorge Videla (1976-1981) came into power after a forceful revolution leaving Argentina under a military junta government. Zorreguieta was involved in the military revolution from day one. He became under-minister and later minister of Agriculture, which is the largest economic sector in the country and the most important export product. In that period of time 10,000 to 30,000 people disappeared, and would never return home again. Many victims were small farmers who did ‘stand in the way’ of the large agricultural land owners the new non-democratic government was representing.
Also within the ministry of Agriculture, people were taken and never to be seen again. This was common knowledge among those working in the department. The Argentinean newspapers wrote about it. All international newspapers reported it. The whole world knew! We all knew. You’d have to live in a hole in the ground to not know. It is unthinkable mister Zorreguieta didn’t know what was going on. It is very likely, he played an active role of some sort in the situation.
Mister Jorge Zorreguieta claims he wasn’t aware of what was going on. In the Netherlands, no one believes that story. Yet, most people here do think we can’t blame the children for what their parents have done. Maxima Zorreguieta deserves our respect. As a nation, we accepted her, on the condition that her father would never be present at formal events. Maxima Zorreguieta was given this wonderful chance in life. But, as a nation, we did not accept her father.
Is princess Maxima handling the situation properly? They until today deny any involvement of her father in human rights violations in Argentina. Perhaps, in her situation, I would do the same, though maybe I would not have done this so explicitly. Everybody knows, a princess in tears, that is what the people want. It is what we have seen in the media every time mister Zorreguieta is discussed. The general public is sensitive to that. Personally, I think they are not keeping their end of the bargain every time her father is prominently present, especially when he is presented as ‘a victim too’. Let’s be honest, we are lied to like little children.
The argumentation, that this is a private party is nonsense, when you are a royal family. It is their fulltime job to have their family life used as a marketing tool. So when a birthday party is celebrated high-profile in public space: it is public.
The whole world knows what has happened in Argentina. To protect our Royal family is one thing, and I have done that myself in the past, but to allow Jorge Zorreguieta to be a prominent guest on occasions that are high-profile, it is not in the interest of our nation nor our people. The world sees how the Netherlands positions him –at least formally co-responsible for the death of many thousands- in a prominent position. This is not good for our country. It costs us so much, and for what? Maxima can see her father any time a day, but not on high-profile events. Is that too much to ask given the situation?
I don’t believe our politicians forgot about the deal made when the Royal marriage was formally accepted. Ever since, nothing has changed, except that more evidence against him has surfaced and more civilians have filed a formal police report. I just can’t believe any of our politicians truly want Jorge Zorreguieta prominently present at events. I just don’t buy it. I do understand that the Royal family wants him there, that I do understand, even though it is not professional of them (is is a personal, private preference). Somehow the men and women in The Hague who are supposed to govern our country, consider it very difficult to speak out loud what many are thinking. Why is that?
So, to all victims and their families, I sincerely apologize, since no-one else is.