Punishment – which according to certain interpretations is nothing more than institutionalized revenge – is thus opposed to uncontrolled revenge. If this position is worth us to be considered as persistent retributionists, we will assume the risk of the assurance that we are not alone in the search for the desired equanimity. Even the jurists who are most skeptical about the justification of the sentence, despite relativizing the remuneration purpose, end up surrendering to reality.
We can affirm then with Gunther Stratenwerth that even when the retributive function of the penalty is doubtful, tactically it is nothing but a reality: “The need for retribution, in the case of offenses touching the public opinion, cannot be eliminated without further ado. Needs are not satisfied, that is, if the administration of criminal justice fails even supposedly, we will always face the threat of a relapse into the right of one’s own hand or into the justice of Lynch “.
For all these reasons, Mr. President, this trial and this conviction are important and necessary for the Argentine Nation, which has been offended by heinous crimes. Its own atrocity makes the mere hypothesis of impunity monstrous. Unless the moral conscience of Argentines has descended to tribal levels, no one can admit that kidnapping, torture or murder constitute “political facts” or “contingencies of combat.” Now that the Argentine people have regained the government and control of their institutions, I assume the responsibility of declaring on their behalf that sadism is not a political ideology or a war strategy, but a moral perversion. From this trial and this sentence, the Argentine people will recover their self-esteem, their faith in the values on the basis of which the Nation was constituted and its international image severely damaged by the crimes of illegal repression …
We Argentines have tried to obtain peace by founding it in oblivion, and we failed: we have already spoken of past and frustrated amnesties.
We have tried to seek peace by way of violence and the extermination of the adversary, and we have failed: I refer to the period that we have just described.
From this judgment and the condemnation that I advocate, we have the responsibility of founding a peace based not on forgetting but on memory; not in violence but in justice.
I want to use a phrase that does not belong to me, because it already belongs to all the Argentine people.