A popular Argentine actor , once active in the local performer's union, is blacklisted from film and television appearances. While he is permitted to act on stage, his name may not appear in newspaper advertisements or on the theater marguee.
One of Argentina's most prominent, internationally respected physicists leaves the country after four years during which he could not find a job because he refused to espouse the "correct" political beliefs.
One of the Spanish-speaking world's most pretigious publishing houses closed its Argentine branch after two employees were arrested and corporate directors saw "serious problems" distributing their volumes of social science, philosophy and political theory. Left behind are the ashes of 155,000 books the company was forced to destroy after the government forbade selling, donating or exporting them.
While the violent guerrilla warfare that has torn Argentina for the past several years has nearly abated, the war of ideas continues. Those who have, or have had, the wrong ones in the eyes of the government risk ending up like their colleagues above, or worse.
The ruling military junta's fight against what it perceives as the causes of leftist subversion, as well as its results, has brought near total control of the large and once-vocal community of opinion-shapers and intellectuals.
In a recent report entitled "Repression Against Intellectuals in Argentina." Amnesty International listed the names of some 200 scientists, teachers, sociologists, writers and students who are among the thousands of Argentines who have disappeared or been imprisoned without charge since the rightist government of President Gen. Gorge Videla took over in March 1976 coup. Hundreds more have emigrated.
Countless academicians and scientists have lost their jobs, including, according to Amnesty, more than 600 scientific personnel in government research jobs who were fired immediately following the coup.
"Purges" of intellectuals have regularly swept this country, where societism, neo-fascism, populism and right-wing militarism have, along with occasional epoch of democracy, danced in and out of a continually revolving political door for decades.
The current government, under a banner of "national reorganization," that includes the suspension of political and labor activities, has vowed to stop the spinning and build a new society from the ground up.
The junta has defined subversion to include not only terrorism but anything that is "at variance" with the "reorganization effort. It is a definition that has included at times such diverse items as Freudian psychology and books and films reflecting other than traditional family values.
Not every Argentine involved in the arts and sciences disagrees with the junta. Author Jorge Luis Borges has defended the junta as the only force capable of straightening out the chaos left by the former Peronist government.
"I'm not political," said an art museum director, "but if the situation needs our support, then we must give it. Now is not the appropriate moment to do anything agressive or provocative."
Those not willing to support the junta vocally tend to say nothing, and many live in fear that something they have said or done will be taken the wrong way. Few are willing to take chances.
Government control over the intellectuals and the public's access to information operates in various ways.
In the media, while there is no prior press censorship, there is virtually no criticism of the government.
Newspapers and magazines are confiscated and shut down often for minor, at times inexplicable, reasons.
All television and broadcast stations are directly controlled by the government by means of a military "interventor" installed at the head of each.
More than 60 journalists have disappeared or been killed in the last four years, many since the coup.
In the film industry, "things aren't prohibited" said one well-known director, "but they aren't permitted."
For example, he said, "I could do a political film tomorrow, as long as I didn't need government money to do it. But then, I'd have to go through the state censor, and no private producer is going to risk investment in a picture that will never be shown."
At the same time, the director said, he knows that there are certain actors, about 60, that are not to be hired.
"There are blacklists of actors believed to be militant Peronists [supporters of the late President Juan D. Peron] Communists or liberal leftists," said a culture editor at a local newspaper. The lists are intended both as punishment and an attempt to prohibit certain performers from making money they might contribute to party organizations or clandestine groups.
One blacklist prohibits certain actors from working in any medium. Another is for those permitted to work in the theater but not in films, radio or television, ostensibly to curtail wide exposure and earnings. Another permits appearances on certain television stations, but not on others. None of the actors on the lists has been officially accused of a crime or subversion.
Since all Marxist and leftist political theory has vanished from university curricula, such writings are no longer found in bookstores. On their own, most bookstores have also gotten rid of entire sections on sociology, psychology and philosophy. All grade schools are required to submit lists of the books in their libraries to the government.
As for the sociologists and psychologists, theirs have always been considered "dangerous careers" in Argentina, the head of a sociological research center said, because they analyze what is going on in society.
Hundreds employed by universities and government-funded clinics found themselves fired under the post-coup "law of dispensability" authorizing the dismissal of any state employee for unspecified reasons. Many psychiatric clinics have begen closed.
In the mental health field, repression has been in part an offshoot of a long-running battle between traditional and progressive treatment approaches.
"Progressive psychologists have been accused of subverting their patients and giving ideological support to guerrillas," said an amnesty report last June. "It is clear that the military authorities have come to associate the practice of psychiatry with subversion."
Accordingly, most progressive psychiatrists in government clinics and hospitals have been replaced by conservatives who themselves were thrown out under previous regimes. Group therapy, because it gathers people in a free-thinking private situation, and Freudian psychology, because it implies trouble in the family, have been replaced with more conventional confinement.
Among the casualties in the academic field is the Bariloche Foundation, an institution that had been Argentina's claim to recognition in the international scientific community since its founding in 1963.
With departments of biology, natural resources and energy, mathematics and social science, and with a staff of more than 300 scientists, the foundation was the country's principal centre for post-graduate research. Fully 80 percent of its budget came from government contracts.
In June 1976, that funding was terminated following the foundation-sponsored publication of a three-year study of resource distribution and underdevelopment that theoretically proposed a world shift toward socialism as the only way to end divisions between the Third World and more developed countries.
The study, financed by the club of Rome and the International Development Research Centre in Canada was "the breaking point" following years of tension under various governments, said a former foundation director.
Asked about the Bariloche Foundation story, a government spokesman noted that the organization had been "filled with subversives."