On Saturday afternoon I read the recycled tree edition of the New York Times and the story about the stabbing murder of Chilean Enrique Arancibia in Buenos Aires stood out because of a single word used to report who found his body: partner. Let's step back a bit for some of the historic details on the dead man, pictured above.
In the 1970s, Arancibia assassinated opponents of Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Eventually convicted of murder by Argentine courts for killings committed on Argentine soil, he was released from prison by judges who said the statute of limitations had passed. He was living in unofficial exile at the time of his death.
The pertinent passage from the Times, my bolding:
His body, with 10 to 12 stab wounds to his chest and back, was discovered by his partner late Thursday night, according to an Argentine official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Use of partner set off my gaydar, because it's often used as code for gay. Sure enough, Googling for Arancibia and homosexual references turned up sources from South American news outlets, stating as fact that he was gay. Once the news of his murder broke, Spanish-language press outlets included the gay angle, and since then more details about the alleged attacker have emerged.
From Radio uChile's report on Sunday, as roughly translated by Google:
The first police investigation Argentina realize that the former DINA agent would have been the victim of a crime of passion, not a political vendetta. And the man who for years was a favorite of spies dictatorship . . . murdered at his home ended up probably by a motorcycle-boy, as he calls young homosexuals are rented online.
The spy who met Argentine prisons in the late 70's . . . frequented a number of gay Internet sites and kept an alleged relationship with a boy, which the press has accused bonarense as a 19-year-old in the first instance is identified as "godson" Arancibia Clavel, but later acknowledged to be his lover.
I sent emails to the two Times reporters responsible for the gay omission, Charles Newbery and Alexei Barrionuevo, and to the foreign desk on Sunday afternoon but have not heard back from them. I'd like to know why the homosexuality of Arancibia, his partner and the alleged attacker were omitted.
Yes, I know the NY Times' foreign editors have been quite busy keeping up with the murder of Osama bin Laden and its aftermath, but I believe the South American-based reporters should offer up an explanation regarding their omissions. Readers should have been fully informed of the many gay aspects to the killing of Arancibia.