Democracy and rights
Since the fall of the dictatorship in 1983,
Argentina has a functioning democratic system, a lively
political debate and free media. Since 2003, several
hundred people have been convicted of abuses committed
during the dictatorship 1976-1983. The trials against
them became possible after previous amnesty laws were
repealed. Corruption in politics and the judiciary is a
Political elections are conducted according to
democratic rules of the game and citizens are free to
form political parties. Formally, there is a duty to
vote for anyone between the ages of 18 and 70 (see
Political system). However, there are shortcomings in
how the electoral law is applied and how the rules for
campaign financing are followed.
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Argentina, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
The President has great powers of power and can
bypass Congress by making decisions through decrees. The
governors who govern the provinces also have great
At least 30 percent of all MPs must be women since
1991. This is true at both federal and provincial
parliaments. In 2017, however, a new law was passed
which states that from the 2019 elections at least 50
percent of the candidates must be women. According to
the law, every second name on the party lists must be a
woman and every other man. After the 2017 congressional
elections, just over 38 percent of the MP's members
Demonstrations to protest against political decisions
and harsh living conditions are common in Argentina (see
Current Politics and Calendar). Occasionally, the
protests lead to clashes between protesters and police.
Freedom of assembly is usually respected.
There is a strong civil society. Voluntary
organizations can usually operate freely.
According to the law, men and women have equal
rights, but women are discriminated against, not least
in the labor market (see Labor Market).
People belonging to Argentina's indigenous peoples
are discriminated against, living more often in poverty
and ill health than the rest of the population (see
Population and Languages). Almost half of the Argentine
provinces have laws recognizing the special rights of
Since 2010, gender-neutral marriages have been
allowed. Same-sex couples also have the right to adopt
children. In 2009, Argentina abolished the ban that
prevented homosexuals from getting jobs in the defense.
Although attitudes have changed rapidly lost still
persecution and discrimination against LGBT -Persons
(see Social conditions).
Abortion is prohibited except after a rape (when the
victim is mentally ill or has a mental disability) or
when the woman's life is in danger. However, opinion
polls suggest that a majority of Argentines are for
legalizing abortion (see Social Conditions).
Freedom of expression and media
Argentina has a free press, but it is common for
journalists who reveal corruption and organized crime to
be exposed to threats and violence. A protracted
conflict between former President Cristina Fernández de
Kirchner and large private media companies has long
contributed to a tough tone in the debate. After
Mauricio Macri took over the government in 2015, the
media climate improved somewhat, while lower
appropriations weakened state media. Following the
change of power in late 2019, when left-wing activist
Alberto Fernández became president, a new line was
announced when it came to state advertising in the
The Argentine media market is dominated by a few
large media companies, notably Grupo Clarín, which
controls a large part of the TV market and the Clarín
daily newspaper, and the smaller La Nación. Under Néstor
Kirchner's reign of 2003–2007, Clarín was the president,
who also approved the media group's purchase of several
TV stations. When the 2008 newspaper partied for the
peasants in their conflict with the Fernández de
Kirchner government, relations deteriorated drastically.
The government used state television to throw down
journalists and others who worked at the large private
companies. The private media, for their part, criticized
the government for abuse of power and corruption.
After the change of power, President Macri tore up
large parts of a law from 2009 aimed at limiting the
influence of major corporations, while at the same time
giving other, smaller commercial players such as
churches or unions more room. Macri's government has
subsequently been criticized for favoring the large
media companies, which are often on his side in the
political debate. Ownership concentration also increased
after the change of power in 2015.
Macri initiated a new regulatory framework to prevent
the state from trying to influence media reporting,
which was previously common. At the same time, the state
has saved money by reducing its advertising.
In 2009, the Public Prosecution Act was softened and
it became easier for the media to report on sensitive
topics, in cases considered to be of general interest.
Journalists can no longer be sentenced to prison for
slander. But prosecution laws are still used to silence
uncomfortable voices and fines can be imposed in civil
The authorities have argued that a tightening of the
country's anti-terror law, which was implemented in
2011, was not aimed at the media. Nevertheless, in 2014,
a journalist, Juan Pablo Suárez from the newspaper
Última Hora, was prosecuted after he published a film in
which police officers seized and beat a policeman who
led protests against low wages within the police force.
The charge of terrorism was later dropped, but Suárez
still risks being punished for "rioting".
The risk of being subjected to violence leads to a
certain degree of self-censorship among journalists,
especially with regard to subjects such as drug
smuggling, human trafficking and other organized crime.
In 2016, the Argentine journalist association Fopea
reported 65 cases of journalists being subjected to
abuse, threats and other abuses.
The Argentines are enthusiastic newspaper readers and
there are more than 150 newspapers. Of these, only
Clarín and the conservative La Nación reach out across
the country. However, the economic crisis has hit hard,
especially smaller media companies, of which some 20
have been closed between 2016 and 2018. Over 3,500 media
workers lost their jobs while others got their wages
lowered. There are also a number of new independent
media companies, including several journalist-owned
In 2017, a new law came into force that gives the
public the right to access public information.
Exceptions are made, for example, for sensitive
information relating to defense, foreign policy or
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, President 2007-2015,
often used twitter to communicate with both media and
voters, and gave few interviews. President Macri is
considered to have a more open relationship with the
media and holds regular press conferences. As elsewhere
in the world, there is a discussion about the harsh
debate climate in social media. Opposition leaders and
activists accuse the authorities of being behind online
harassment, data that is rejected by the government.
In 2020, Argentina was ranked 64 out of 180 countries
in Reporters Without Borders Index of Press Freedom in
the World, which was three rankings worse than 2017 (for
list, see here).
Corruption is widespread in Argentina, even at a high
political level. Legal proceedings have been initiated
against several former presidents, including Carlos
Menem (who ruled Argentina 1989-1999) and Cristina
Fernández de Kirchner (2007-2015). However, both Menem
and Fernández de Kirchner have not been able to be
convicted as they have been in Congress and thus fall
under the criminal immunity that applies to members of
Congress. In Fernández de Kirchner's case, however, the
prosecutor has managed to push through certain
restrictions on prosecution immunity. The ex-president
himself claims that the legal proceedings against her
are politically motivated (see also Current policy).
Former Finance Minister and Vice President Amado
Boudou is serving a prison sentence for corruption (see
Calendar) August 2018. Several other ministers have also
been convicted of crimes.
According to the organization Transparency
International index of perceived corruption in the
countries of the world, Argentina 2020 ranked 66 out of
180 countries (for list see here).
Judicial system and legal security
Courts exist at both federal and provincial levels
and are, according to the constitution, independent.
Corruption and lack of efficiency create major problems
in the justice system, especially in the provinces.
Politicians at all levels are accused of interfering
with the work of the courts.
The Supreme Court can, however, largely act
independently and has on several occasions made rulings
that went against the government, both the current and
the one led by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Confidence in the justice system is usually low, and
many crimes are not cleared up, not least the terrorist
act against a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994 (see
Foreign Policy and Defense) or Prosecutor Alberto
Nisman's death in 2015 (see Calendar).
There are accusations that people in the judiciary
and police cooperate with drug smugglers. At the same
time, growing drug trafficking has increased the
violence in society, and courts and employees in the
judiciary are threatened.
The death penalty was abolished in peacetime in 1853
and in wartime 2009.
Police are accused of assaulting suspects of crime.
Few police officers are punished for the abuse. The
country's prisons are overcrowded. Conditions there are
miserable and violence against the interns is common,
even torture occurs. The Macri government has promised
to take measures to prevent the torture of prisoners.
Legal processes for abuses committed during
In 2003, a process was initiated that has allowed the
prosecution of persons who committed abuse during the
military dictatorship 1976-1983. Laws of 1986 and 1987
giving military amnesty for murder and other abuses were
repealed. But it was not until the Supreme Court ruled
in 2005 that amnesty law violated the constitution that
it became possible to convict someone for the crimes.
According to domestic law authorities, more than 3,000
people had been prosecuted and 867 people had been
convicted of abuses committed during the dictatorship
until November 2018. 110 people had been acquitted.
One of the first cases involved former police chief
Miguel Etchecolatz who was sentenced to 23 years in
prison in 1986, but was granted amnesty after serving a
few months of his sentence. In 2006, the case was
reopened and he was then sentenced to life imprisonment
for involvement in torture and multiple murders. Shortly
thereafter, a principal witness disappeared against
Etchecolatz before testifying. Later came reports that
threats were directed at judges, prosecutors, human
rights activists and witnesses in connection with other
Former Junta leader Jorge Videla was sentenced in
1985 to life imprisonment for torture and murder, but he
was pardoned in 1990 by then-President Carlos Menem.
Together with other junta leaders, Videla was again
arrested in 1998 accused of kidnapping and adopting
infants whose parents were political prisoners who
"disappeared" or were killed during the dictatorship. A
total of over 400 children should have been adopted into
families connected to the military. In 2001, Videla was
also indicted for involvement in Operation
Condor, in which six Latin American
regimes in the 1970s jointly persecuted and killed
In 2007, a court revoked the pardon of Videla and he
was moved from house arrest to prison. In May 2010, he
was charged with 49 cases of kidnapping, torture and
murder since new forensic evidence was presented. The
trial for 31 of the murders began the same year. In
2010, Videla was sentenced to life imprisonment for
these murders. Two years later, Videla and General
Reynaldo Bignone were sentenced to 50 years and 15 years
in prison for their role in the kidnappings of 34
infants in the 1970s. Another nine people were sentenced
to long prison terms for their role in the scandal
surrounding the stolen children. Of the 300 to 400
children adopted in this way, 128 have been found.
Videla died in prison in 2013.
Bignone, who served as president during the vacuum of
power that emerged after Argentina's defeat in the
Falklands War in the summer of 1982 (see Modern
History), has also been convicted of abuses he committed
when he was head of the country's largest torture center
in the late 1970s.
Héctor Febres, who had worked at Esma, the Navy's
mechanical school, one of the most notorious torture
centers during the military dictatorship, was on the
verge of sentencing at the end of 2007 when he was found
dead in his cell. Several people, including Febre's
family and two prison guards, were arrested. It was
unclear whether he had taken his own life with cyanide
or if he had been murdered. According to press reports,
many people were believed to be revealing to others
involved in announcing the verdict against him.
Former Navy Captain Alfredo Astiz, who is suspected
of, among other things, the murder of Swedish-Argentine
Dagmar Hagelin, and his colleague Jorge Acosta, was
released in 2008 after a ruling in the Court of Appeal.
They had then been detained without trial for five years
(Argentine law stipulates that no one may be detained
for more than two years without trial; however, there
are certain options for extension for one year at a
time). Astiz was sentenced in 1990 in his absence to
life imprisonment in France for his involvement in the
disappearance of two French nuns in Argentina. The same
sentence was sentenced in 2007 by an Italian court.
A new trial against Astiz was launched in Argentina
in 2009 and in the fall of 2011 he was sentenced and
another eleven former military and police officers to
life imprisonment for crimes against humanity. Astiz,
who is usually called the "blonde angel of death" and
the others worked at Esma in Buenos Aires, where about
5,000 prisoners were taken, most of whom were killed at
the scene. A new trial against 67 other ESMA employees
was launched in 2012. This was the largest trial for
crimes committed during the "dirty war" held in
Argentina. In November 2017, 52 of the defendants were
sentenced to long prison sentences, including those of
Astiz and Acosta who were convicted of crimes against
In December 2012, the former Interior Minister of
Buenos Aires Province, Jaime Smart, was sentenced to
life imprisonment for crimes against humanity during the
military dictatorship 1976-1983. He thus became the
first civilian to be convicted of participating in the
"dirty war". In his case, it is about participation in
torture and murder of opposites in illegal detention.
There are several independent human rights
organizations. Most famous is the now-divided
Madres de Plaza de Mayo.