Rodolfo Barra
"I was a Nazi, I regret it," said barra after resigning in 1996 Cámara de Diputados Argentina

Argentina's public conversation is abuzz on Friday after the incoming Javier Milei administration announced the next Solicitor General will be Rodolfo Barra, who almost 39 years ago resigned to another top government position amid outcry over his neo-Nazi past.

Barra, set to become the government's top lawyer, was a Supreme Court minister during the early 1990s, a member of the Constitutional Assembly in 1994 and appointed as Justice Minister that same year during the Carlos Menem administration.

Barra held the post for two years until the surfacing of his past, when outlet Página 12 revealed he was part of an organization that was involved in an attack against a Synagogue. Days before, investigative magazine Noticias had published a picture of him doing a Nazi salute as part of a cover article titled "Herr Minister." "Yes, I was a Nazi, I regret it," said Barra when leaving his post in 1996.

As minister Barra also sponsored a law that sought to limit the press by increasing sentences for slandering, as well as one allowing police to seize objects without a warrant.

Despite the controversies, Barra was called to be part of Fernando De La Rua's government in 1999 and continued until 2002. He remained away from the public eye during the better part of the new century, but resurfaced in 2020 as part of the faction opposing the legalization of abortion in Argentina.

"Human life starts during conception. All human beings are people. That is the law we must abide by and respect. Decriminalization of abortion violates the Constitution. The state must make sure rights are respected," he said during a public debate back then.

After Milei's office confirmed the news in a press release, many were quick to point out Barra's past, especially considering that the President-elect has said he intends to convert to Judaism and that his first overseas trip included a visit to the tomb of Rabbi Menachem Mendl Schneerson in New York. Milei has also said his foreign policy will be aligned with that of the United States and Israel and anticipated his willingness to move Argentina's embassy to Jerusalem.

Shortly after the announcement, the Argentine Forum Against Antisemitism issued a statement voicing its "deep concern and rejection" to it. "We consider this election to be a direct offense to the democratic and plural spirit of our country. It is inadmissible that a person with a past tied to the Tacuara Nationalist Movement, which leaned towards Nazism, is appointed to such an office. We firmly demand he be reconsidered," the statement said.

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