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View Full Version : No more amnesty for the Generals in Argentina and Uruguay. Jail time.



Magda Hassan
10-29-2011, 03:41 AM
Some very good news at last. Uruguay has recinded the amnesty the military gave themselves for their crimes against thier people. In Argentina 12 military and police officers have been sentenced to life in prison for crimes committed during the 1976-83 military dictatorship.

Uruguay lawmakers revoke Dirty War amnesty

By RAUL O. GARCES, Associated Press – 2 days ago
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — Uruguay's Congress revoked amnesty for military officials charged with human rights abuses on Thursday, ending a deal between left and right that for a quarter-century has prevented prosecutions for crimes against humanity.
Uruguay's lower house voted 50-40 to eliminate the amnesty, following a similar vote in the Senate. President Jose Mujica is expected to sign the law before Nov. 1, when, if Congress had not acted, a statute of limitations would have eliminated the possibility of new prosecutions for dictatorship-era crimes.
Dozens of suspected leftists were kidnapped and killed during the 1973-1985 dictatorship. Congress' pre-dawn vote meets a demand by human rights groups that people who kidnapped, tortured and killed in the name of the state should be punished.
"Impunity has ended," cheered Luis Puig, a deputy with the ruling Broad Front coalition.
Uruguay's Supreme Court now must decide whether lifting the amnesty is constitutional.
Opponents say the measure violates both the constitution and the will of the people, since the military amnesty was upheld in popular referenda in 1989 and 2009.
Some military leaders have vowed to push for prosecution of crimes committed by former guerrillas if their own colleagues are brought to court.
Mujica and most other leaders of the leftist Tupamaro guerrillas served long prison sentences for the political violence they fostered in the 1960s and early 1970s. But several dozen have allegedly remained free, benefiting from a separate amnesty for leftists who committed crimes more than a generation ago.
Sen. Jorge Larranaga of the conservative opposition National Party said "with this law that Parliament approved, the Broad Front has torn several pages from the national constitution and put itself above the popular will."
The vote came hours after a court in neighboring Argentina sentenced a former navy spy known as "the Angel of Death" and 11 other former Argentine military and police officers to life in prison for crimes against humanity committed during that country's 1976-83 military dictatorship.
Alfredo Astiz, a 59-year-old ex-navy captain, became notorious for his infiltration and betrayal of activists and was viewed by many Argentines as the symbol of the junta's crimes. He was accused of participating in the kidnapping, torture and murder of two French nuns, a journalist and three founders of a human rights group.
The crimes alleged against all the defendants included 86 cases of kidnapping, torture and murder of leftist dissidents committed at the Navy Mechanics School, one of the military junta's principal torture centers used to crush the threat of armed revolution. About 5,000 detainees passed through the school. Fewer than half survived.
Closing out a trial that began in December 2009, four other defendants were sentenced to between 18 and 25 years in prison, while two others were absolved. Former Adm. Emilio Masserta, who commanded the torture center, was not included among the defendants because of poor health and died last November.
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i6LXACPf3c0CZdxFfaLKOBR58lFw?docId=a14f989c0 d0645c48fdad5101e43810c




Argentina: 12 Given Life Sentences for Crimes During Dictatorship By ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/alexei_barrionuevo/index.html?inline=nyt-per) Published: October 27, 2011 Follow @nytimesworld (http://twitter.com/#%21/nytimesworld) for international breaking news and headlines.





Alfredo Astiz and 11 other former military and police officers have been sentenced to life in prison for crimes committed during the 1976-83 military dictatorship, a court announced Wednesday. Mr. Astiz, 59, nicknamed the “Blond Angel of Death,” was convicted for his role in executing human rights activists in 1977; they were tortured at the Navy Mechanics School, known as ESMA, and then dropped from navy airplanes into the South Atlantic. His victims included several founders of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo human rights group and two French nuns, the court found. Four other defendants received sentences of 18 to 25 years in prison. About 5,000 detainees passed through ESMA during the dictatorship, of whom more than 90 percent were killed, according to the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/28/world/americas/argentina-12-given-life-sentences-for-crimes-during-dictatorship.html

Magda Hassan
07-06-2012, 03:33 AM
STOLEN BABIES: Argentina Convicts Two Military DictatorsIn Unprecedented Testimony, Former US Assistant Secretary of State Confirmed Military Kidnappings of Children of Disappeared Political Prisoners in the 1970'sNational Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 383Posted - July 5, 2012
For more information contact:
Carlos Osorio - 202/994-7000
cosorio@gwu.edu







The SentenceRobo de bebés: condenaron a 50 años de prisión a Jorge Rafael Videla (http://www.cij.gov.ar/nota-9445-Robo-de-bebes--condenaron-a-50-anos-de-prision-a-Jorge-Rafael-Videla.html)
Centro de Información Judicial, July 5, 2012Related PostingsEl represor volvió a su viejo libreto negador (http://www.pagina12.com.ar/diario/elpais/1-197305-2012-06-27.html)
Alejandra Dandan,Pagina doce, June 27, 2012
Videla negó un plan sistemático de robo de bebés durante la dictadura (http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1485331-videla-nego-un-plan-sistematica-de-robo-de-bebes-durante-la-dictadura)
La Nacion, June 26, 2012
Videla aguarda su sentencia entre insultos a las presas embarazadas de la dictadura (http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2012/06/27/actualidad/1340790218_576884.html)
Francisco Peregil, El País, June 27, 2012











Washington, D.C., July 5, 2012 –An Argentine tribunal today convicted two former military leaders for their roles in the kidnapping and theft of dozens of babies of executed and disappeared political prisoners during the dictatorship. Drawing on critical evidence provided from the United States, the court sentenced General Rafael Videla to 50 years and General Reynaldo Bignone to 15 years in prison for crimes that epitomized the vicious human rights abuses during the military regime that governed Argentina between 1976 and 1983.
The "Tribunal Oral Federal N° 6" handed down the verdict after a review of documentation that included a memorandum of conversation, written by former Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Elliott Abrams, that proved the clandestine program to steal the babies of political prisoners was known at the highest levels of the regime. In his memo, dated December 3, 1982, Abrams recounted a meeting with the military's ambassador to Washington: "I raised with the Ambassador the question of children… born to prisoners or children taken from their families during the dirty war… The Ambassador agreed completely and had already made this point to his [Argentine] foreign minister and president…"
The trial, pursued by the Association of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, was based on the cases of 35 children, now adults, who have been identified through DNA testing as sons and daughters of disappeared victims of the dirty war. The Grandmothers estimate that more than 500 children were captured along with their parents or born in captivity; after their parents were executed, many were raised by security officers families who hid their true identities. More than 100 of the children have been identified.
This is not the first time that Videla and Bignone have been put on trial for crimes committed during the dictatorship. Both are currently serving life sentences for human rights abuses. Argentina's National Commission on the Disappeared (CONADEP) originally documented 9,089 cases of people disappeared by the regime. Subsequent research using reports from the secret police battalion 601 raises the total of the dead and disappeared to about 22,000. Human rights organizations estimate that this number is closer to 30,000.
The Abrams memorandum of conversation was among thousands of records on human rights in Argentina declassified by the Department of State in 2002, but it had significant sections redacted [See the redacted memo here (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/394540-19821203-abrams-doc-redacted.html)]. With the National Security Archive's encouragement, the Grandmothers formally petitioned the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires to declassify a full version of the memcon. In "a remarkable move," according to Carlos Osorio who directs the Archive's Southern Cone Documentation project, the Department of State released an un-censored version (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/394541-19821203-abrams-doc-full.html) of the memorandum of conversation last December.
"This is a wonderful example of how declassification serves the purposes of justice," Osorio said. "We welcome and congratulate the initiative of the U.S. ambassador and Department of State to support the Abuelas de la Plaza De Mayo and provide evidence for this trial."
The document proved critical in the trial, according to Alan Iud, lead lawyer for the Grandmothers. "The document is key for it demonstrates that the last President of the military dictatorship General Bignone knew of the military policy to snatch the children and knew of their fate " he said. "The release of the full document prevented the defense from arguing that the redacted sections of the document may have contained information that diminished the significance of the essence of declassified parts," he added.
In a virtually unprecedented move, on January 26, 2012, Elliott Abrams provided formal testimony to the court on his meeting with the Argentine ambassador in 1982. He confirmed the authenticity of the document and offered further details about the Argentine military's policy on the kidnapped children.
Abrams testified that the Department State was aware that "we were not talking about one or two children, or one or two officers who had taken children. We thought there was a pattern or plan."
He later went on to say that the kidnapped children were "in one way, the most significant human rights problem, because these children were alive. This was an ongoing problem." [See clips from his testimony here (http://youtu.be/yQucNEXNRks). Find the transcript here (http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB383/Testigo%20de%20Elliot%20Abrams.pdf)]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yQucNEXNRks
As the trial concluded, Osorio called on the CIA, the Defense Department and the FBI to search their secret files for additional documentation related to the disappeared, and their children, in Argentina. The National Security Archive, he said, would press the Obama Administration to declassify such records, to advance the cause of human rights and "the right of the Abuelas to finally know the fates of their children and of their grandchildren."


DOCUMENTSDepartment of State, Memorandum of Conversation, December 2, 1982 [redacted version] (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/394540-19821203-abrams-doc-redacted.html)
By the time Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Elliott Abrams met with Argentina's ambassador to Washington, Lucio Alberto Garcia del Solar, in late 1982, the military regime was completely discredited. Gen. Videla's successor, Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri, had led Argentina into the debacle of the Falklands war—the U.S. had secretly sided with the British. The defeat cost the regime whatever remaining domestic support it had. The call for an accounting of the disappeared was broadly debated among the media, and society at large. General Reynaldo Bignone had replaced Galtieri as a transitional figure to hand power to civilians. The Department of State had recently received a delegation of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo who presented their case about the hundreds of children stolen from the disappeared and secretly transferred to security officers to raise as their own, "adopted," children.
This redacted version of the memo of the conversation between Abrams and Garcia del Solar was declassified in 2002 as part of a special declassification of human rights documents on Argentina initiated by the State Department during the Clinton administration. It reveals that Abrams had been briefed on the issue of the disappeared children and explicitly addressed the issue. "I raised with the Ambassador the question of children… born to prisoners or children taken from their families during the dirty war. While the disappeared were dead, these children were still alive and this was in a sense the gravest humanitarian problem." According to the memcon, "The Ambassador agreed completely and had already made this point to his foreign minister and president…" but del Solar also stated that the problem is "taking these children from adoptive parents."
Department of State, Memorandum of Conversation, December 2, 1982 [unredacted version] (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/394541-19821203-abrams-doc-full.html)
In preparation for the trial of General Videla and General Bignone as accessories to the kidnapping and theft of the missing children of political prisoners, the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo asked the U.S. ambassador in Buenos Aires, Vilma Socorro Martínez, to obtain the full declassification of the document, in hopes that it would provide further evidence for the prosecution. On December 22, 2011, the State Department released the entire document. The redacted sections turned out not to provide additional information on the disappeared children, but having the full document facilitated its introduction as evidence in the trial.
Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), "Forwarding of Spanish Documents," March 25, 1976. (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/394538-19760325-spanish-documents.html)
The day after the Argentine military coup, the U.S. defense attaché in Buenos Aires forwarded to Washington two Spanish language documents entitled "Philosophy" and "Bio of Lieutenant General Jorge Rafael Videla. " A leader of the coup, Videla described "The historical justification of the Armed Forces intervention in the national process…" and "[T]he guiding ideas – the Philosophy - that support this intervention and its operational modalities.…"
In a revealing section, Videla stated that "the current situation in the country is mismanagement, administrative chaos, venality, but also the existence of currents of public opinion or political beliefs which are deeply rooted, with a working class outside the mainstream… with a church alarmed by the process but still willing to report any excess against human dignity…"
Department of State – President Videla: An Alternative View," November 19, 1977 (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/394539-19771119-president-videla-an-alternative-view.html)
Although the Carter Administration raised the profile of human rights violations in Latin America, by the end of 1977 U.S. officials decided to engage General Videla as the "Moderate" within the military dictatorship with whom they could work. In this briefing paper drafted two days before Secretary of State Cyrus Vance's visit to Buenos Aires, however, the Department of State makes the following assessment of the leader the U.S. has engaged: "A common view has been that President Videla would gradually but effectively move to improve the human rights situation in Argentina… If these views appeared probable when general Videla assumed the presidency in March, 1976, a year and a half later, they are increasingly difficult to support." The assessment continued:
"Videla probably has good instincts on human rights, but several fundamental factors are preventing him from taking effective action:

He adheres to the ‘clandestine war' doctrine, which argues that subversion must be countered with illegal measures. He also agrees that this illegal war be waged in a decentralized manner, with local captains and commanders acting largely on their own. This makes it impossible for the top generals, including the junta, to effectively control the security forces – but does provide the junta members with plausible deniability.
Videla fails to make a sharp distinction between terrorism and dissent. The loose application of the term ‘subversive' to the government's enemies has encouraged the security forces to strike not just at terrorists but a wide range of civilian opinion. Certainly less than half of the prisoners and disappeared persons (estimated by human rights groups at 15,000) were active terrorists; some estimates place the figure at under 15%."

Peter Lemkin
07-06-2012, 07:33 AM
Stolen babies and the mothers usually murdered...and they get 15 and 50 years only!....not to mention all the torture and disappearances, terror, etc. Better late than never, but why only two and why did it take so long?!?!?

Magda Hassan
04-18-2013, 09:07 AM
Secret documents leaked by WikiLeaks reveal links between the U.S. and the military eight months before the death of Peron.
by MDZ, World April 17, 2013 | 8:37 Comment (http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&ie=UTF8&prev=_t&rurl=translate.google.com.au&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http://www.mdzol.com/nota/459609-wikileaks-eeuu-apoyo-a-la-dictadura-militar-argentina/&usg=ALkJrhhSslO25MCSlNMyflbsJxsc0HfSMg#opinar)














According to secret cables released, Washington strongly supported the military dictatorship that was established in 1976 in Argentina, which was considered the best option to "climate of uncertainty that threatens its interests in the country."

The leaked document, prepared by the U.S. State Department days after it became known that Perón had been rushed by a pulmonary edema, noted that "we must strive to maintain close links with key military leaders, as they represent one of the few viable alternatives to institutional Peronists," published RT (http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&ie=UTF8&prev=_t&rurl=translate.google.com.au&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http://actualidad.rt.com/actualidad/view/91982-wikileaks-filtraciones-peron-videla-eeuu&usg=ALkJrhgY3vKqFYrFFWW8eW6xMR27sAwWmg) .

Henry Kissinger, who was appointed head of the U.S. Foreign Service just two months earlier commissioned a "document contingency" that circulate among the various U.S. agencies in emphasizing that "any intervention in almost every aspect of the Argentina's internal policy requires the U.S. to act with the utmost discretion and sensitivity ", noting also the importance of not being" identified with repressive activities to suppress subversion ".

On the death of Peron, the most likely scenario, according to the State Department, was that his widow, Maria Estela Martinez, popularly known as Isabel Perón, what happened, and it was a person who, according to the leaked documents, the U.S. State Department expected that would be very difficult to control "centrifugal forces" that her husband was driving, being possible "escalation of violence".

Given this hypothetical scenario, again according to the leaked documents, the U.S. military supposed "gain influence behind the scenes" and "could make preventive arrests to avoid problems."

The February 21, 1976, a cable signed by then U.S. ambassador to Argentina, Robert Hill, reported a meeting with the head of the Air Force, Orlando Agosti, which asked about his country's stance on the situation Argentina , said the United States shared the line proposed by Jorge Rafael Videla about that "only military intervention could handle the country's problems."

The March 24, 1976, a military coup deposed Isabel Perón from office as president of the nation Argentina; establishing Videla's military dictatorship.
http://www.mdzol.com/nota/459609-wikileaks-eeuu-apoyo-a-la-dictadura-militar-argentina/

Magda Hassan
05-18-2013, 01:01 AM
Ex-Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla is dead. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Except maybe a few thousand other US backed dictators and torturers and a half dozen freelancers.


Argentina’s Dapper State Terrorist

May 17, 2013

From the Archive: Ex-Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla, who died Friday in prison at 87, saw the Dirty War that killed some 30,000 people as an intellectual exercise in exterminating subversive thought even across generations by transferring babies of the “disappeared” to military families, as Marta Gurvich recounted in 1998.
By Marta Gurvich (Originally published Aug. 19, 1998)
Former Argentine president Jorge Rafael Videla, the dapper dictator who launched the so-called Dirty War in 1976, was arrested on June 9, 1998, for a particularly bizarre crime of state, one that rips at the heart of human relations.
Videla, known for his English-tailored suits and his ruthless counterinsurgency theories, stands accused of permitting — and concealing — a scheme to harvest infants from pregnant women who were kept alive in military prisons only long enough to give birth.

Former Argentine dictator Jorge Videla, who died Friday at age 87.

According to the charges, the babies were taken from the new mothers, sometimes by late-night Caesarean sections, and then distributed to military families or shipped to orphanages. After the babies were pulled away, the mothers were removed to another site for their executions.
Yet, after Videla’s arrest in 1998, Argentina was engulfed in a legal debate over whether Videla could be judged a second time for these grotesque kidnappings. After democracy was restored in Argentina, Videla was among the generals convicted of human rights crimes, including “disappearances,” tortures, murders and kidnappings.
In 1985, Videla was sentenced to life imprisonment at the military prison of Magdalena. But, on Dec. 29, 1990, amid rumblings of another possible military coup, President Carlos Menem pardoned Videla and other convicted generals. Many politicians considered the pardons a pragmatic decision of national reconciliation that sought to shut the door on the dark history of the so-called Dirty War when the military slaughtered as many as 30,000 Argentineans.
Relatives of the victims, however, continued to uncover evidence that children taken from their mothers’ wombs sometimes were being raised as the adopted children of their mothers’ murderers. For 15 years, a group called Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo demanded the return of these kidnapped children, estimated to number as many as 500.
After years of detective work, the Grandmothers documented the identities of 256 missing babies. Of those, however, only 56 children were ever located and seven of them had died. Aided by breakthroughs in genetic testing, the Grandmothers succeeded in returning 31 children to their biological families. Thirteen were raised jointly by their adoptive and biological families and the remaining cases bogged down in court custody battles.
The Baby Harvest
But the baby kidnappings gained a new focus in 1997 with developments in the case of Silvia Quintela, a leftist doctor who attended to the sick in shanty towns around Buenos Aires. On Jan. 17, 1977, Quintela was abducted off a Buenos Aires street by military authorities because of her political leanings. At the time, Quintela and her agronomist husband Abel Madariaga were expecting their first child.
According to witnesses who later testified before a government truth commission, Quintela was held at a military base called Campo de Mayo, where she gave birth to a baby boy. As in similar cases, the infant then was separated from the mother. What happened to the boy is still not clear, but Quintela reportedly was transferred to a nearby airfield.
There, victims were stripped naked, shackled in groups and dragged aboard military planes. The planes then flew out over the Rio de la Plata or the Atlantic Ocean, where soldiers pushed the victims out of the planes and into the water to drown.
After democracy was restored in 1983, Madariaga, who had fled into exile in Sweden, returned to Argentina and searched for his wife. He learned about her death and the birth of his son. Madariaga came to suspect that a military doctor, Norberto Atilio Bianco, had kidnapped the boy. Bianco had overseen Caesarean sections performed on captured women, according to witnesses. He then allegedly drove the new mothers to the airport.
In 1987, Madariaga demanded DNA testing of Bianco’s two children, a boy named Pablo and a girl named Carolina, both of whom were suspected children of disappeared women. Madariaga thought Pablo might be his son. But Bianco and his wife, Susana Wehrli, fled Argentina to Paraguay, where they resettled with the two children. Argentine judge Roberto Marquevich sought the Biancos’ extradition, but Paraguay balked for 10 years.
Finally, faced with demands from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Paraguay relented. Bianco and Wehrli were returned to face kidnapping charges. But the two children — now young adults with small children of their own — refused to return to Argentina or submit to DNA testing.
Though realizing they were adopted, Pablo and Carolina did not want to know about the fate of their real mothers and did not want to jeopardize the middle-class lives they had enjoyed in the Bianco household. [For more details about this case, see “Baby-Snatching: Argentina’s Dirty War Secret. (http://consortiumnews.com/2011/10/09/baby-snatching-argentine-dirty-war-secrecrime/)”]
As an offshoot of the Bianco case, Judge Marquevich ordered the arrest of Videla. The judge accused the former dictator of facilitating the snatching of Pablo and Carolina as well as four other children. Marquevich found that Videla was aware of the kidnappings and took part in a cover-up of the crimes. The aging general was placed under house arrest.
In a related case, another judge, Alfredo Bagnasco, began investigating whether the baby-snatching was part of an organized operation and thus a premeditated crime of state. According to a report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Argentine military viewed the kidnappings as part of a larger counterinsurgency strategy.
“The anguish generated in the rest of the surviving family because of the absence of the disappeared would develop, after a few years, into a new generation of subversive or potentially subversive elements, thereby not permitting an effective end to the Dirty War,” the commission said in describing the army’s reasoning for kidnapping the infants of murdered women.
The kidnapping strategy conformed with the “science” of the Argentine counterinsurgency operations. The Dirty War’s clinical anti-communist practitioners refined torture techniques, sponsored cross-border assassinations and collaborated with organized-crime elements.
According to government investigations, the military’s intelligence officers advanced Nazi-like methods of torture by testing the limits of how much pain a human being could endure before dying. The torture methods included experiments with electric shocks, drowning, asphyxiation and sexual perversions, such as forcing mice into a woman’s vagina. Some of the implicated military officers had trained at the U.S.-run School of the Americas.
‘Pink Panther’
Behind this Dirty War and its excesses stood the slight, well-dressed, gentlemanly figure of Gen. Videla. Called “bone” or the “pink panther” because of his slim build, Videla emerged as a leading theorist for international anti-communist strategies in the mid-1970s.
Videla’s tactics were emulated throughout Latin America and were defended by prominent American right-wing politicians, including Ronald Reagan. [Regarding Reagan’s personal embrace of “dirty war” tactics, see Consortiumnews.com’s “How Reagan Promoted Genocide (http://consortiumnews.com/2013/02/21/how-reagan-promoted-genocide/).”]
Videla rose to power amid Argentina’s political and economic unrest in the early-to-mid 1970s. “As many people as necessary must die in Argentina so that the country will again be secure,” he declared in 1975 in support of a “death squad” known as the Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance. [See A Lexicon of Terror by Marguerite Feitlowitz.]
On March 24, 1976, Videla led the military coup which ousted the ineffective president, Isabel Peron. Though armed leftist groups had been shattered by the time of the coup, the generals still organized a counterinsurgency campaign to eradicate any remnants of what they judged political subversion.
Videla called this “the process of national reorganization,” intended to reestablish order while inculcating a permanent animosity toward leftist thought. “The aim of the Process is the profound transformation of consciousness,” Videla announced.
Along with selective terror, Videla employed sophisticated public relations methods. He was fascinated with techniques for using language to manage popular perceptions of reality. The general hosted international conferences on P.R. and awarded a $1 million contract to the giant U.S. firm of Burson Marsteller. Following the Burson Marsteller blueprint, the Videla government put special emphasis on cultivating American reporters from elite publications.
“Terrorism is not the only news from Argentina, nor is it the major news,” went the optimistic P.R. message.
Since the jailings and executions of dissidents were rarely acknowledged, Videla felt he could deny government involvement. He often suggested that the missing Argentines were not dead, but had slipped away to live comfortably in other countries.
“I emphatically deny that there are concentration camps in Argentina, or military establishments in which people are held longer than is absolutely necessary in this … fight against subversion,” he told British journalists in 1977. [See A Lexicon of Terror.]
A Crusade
In a grander context, Videla and the other generals saw their mission as a crusade to defend Western Civilization against international communism. They worked closely with the Asian-based World Anti-Communist League and its Latin American affiliate, the Confederacion Anticomunista Latinoamericana [CAL].
Latin American militaries collaborated on projects such as the cross-border assassinations of political dissidents. Under one project, called Operation Condor, anti-government political leaders — centrist and leftist alike — were shot or bombed in Buenos Aires, Rome, Madrid, Santiago and Washington. Operation Condor often employed CIA-trained Cuban exiles as assassins.
In 1980, four years after the coup, the Argentine military exported its terror tactics into neighboring Bolivia. There, Argentine intelligence operatives helped Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and major drug lords mount a brutal putsch, known as the Cocaine Coup.
The bloody operation turned Bolivia into the first modern drug state and expanded cocaine smuggling into the United States. [For more details, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege (http://www.neckdeepbook.com/).]
Videla’s anything-goes anti-communism struck a responsive chord with the Reagan administration which came to power in 1981. President Reagan quickly reversed President Jimmy Carter’s condemnation of the Argentine junta’s record on human rights. Reagan’s U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick even hosted the urbane Argentine generals at an elegant state dinner.
More substantively, Reagan authorized CIA collaboration with the Argentine intelligence service for training and arming the Nicaraguan Contras. The Contras were soon implicated in human rights atrocities and drug smuggling of their own. But the Contras benefitted from the Reagan administration’s own “perception management” operation which portrayed them as “the moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers.” [For details, see Parry’s Lost History (http://www.neckdeepbook.com/).]
In 1982, however, the Argentine military went a step too far. Possibly deluded by its new coziness with Washington, the army invaded the British-controlled Falkland Islands. Given the even-closer Washington-London alliance, the Reagan administration sided with Margaret Thatcher’s government, which crushed the Argentine invaders in a brief war.
The humiliated generals relinquished power in 1983. Then, after democratic elections, the new president Raul Alfonsin created a truth commission to collect evidence about the Dirty War crimes. The grisly details shocked Argentines and the world.
Ongoing Echo
Some Argentine analysts believe that repercussions from that violent era continued for decades, with organized crime rampant and corruption reaching into the highest levels of the government, especially during the administration of President Menem, who pardoned Videla and other practitioners of the Dirty War.
Menem’s sister-in-law, Amira Yoma, reportedly was under investigation in Spain for money-laundering. A reporter investigating mob ties was burned alive. Relatives of a prosecutor examining gold smuggling were tortured by having their faces mutilated. Jewish targets have been bombed.
Michael Levine, a former star agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration who served in Argentina, was not surprised by this violent carryover into the 1990s. “The same militaries and police officers that committed human rights crimes during the coup are holding positions in the same forces,” Levine said.
Elsewhere, foreign governments whose citizens were victims of the Dirty War also pressed individual cases against Videla and other former military leaders. These countries included Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Denmark and Honduras.
Yet, in Argentina, Menem’s pardon protected Videla and the others from facing any significant punishment for their acts, at least for a time. Menem refused to extradite the former military leaders to other countries. He also dragged his heels on purging the armed forces of thousands of officers implicated in Dirty War offenses.
So, the lingering case implicating Videla in harvesting babies from doomed women represented one of the last chances for Argentina to hold the dictator accountable — and to come to grips with the terrible crimes of its recent past.
Marta Gurvich is an Argentine journalist who has written about political and social issues in Latin America.
Editor’s Update: In 1998, Videla was found guilty of kidnapping in the case of Silvia Quintela and other “disappeared.” He spent 38 days in prison before being transferred to house arrest due to health concerns. However, after the election of President Nestor Kirchner in 2003, another effort was made to hold the Dirty War leaders accountable.
On Dec. 22, 2010, Videla was sentenced to life in a civilian prison for the deaths of 31 prisoners, killed after his 1976 coup. Then, on July 5, 2012, Videla was sentenced to 50 years in prison for the systematic kidnapping of children during his tenure.
The precise role of Pope Francis I, the former Argentine Cardinal Bergoglio, in the Dirty War remains something of a mystery. His defenders claim he privately appealed to Videla to spare the lives of two ex-Jesuit priests who had been abducted and tortured, while his critics claim that his dismissal of the two priests made them easy targets for the military. [See Christopher Dickey’s account (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/03/15/argentina-s-dirty-war-casts-a-pall-over-bergoglio.html) at The Daily Beast.]
In October 2012, Bergoglio issued a collective apology for the behavior of Argentina’s Catholic Church during the Dirty War, but blamed both the military and leftists for the carnage, angering some Argentines because the overwhelming majority of human rights crimes were committed by the military against unarmed political dissidents.
During the Dirty War, much of the Catholic hierarchy actively supported the military junta and opposed public resistance to the security forces as they “disappeared” alleged leftists off the streets. Some Catholic leaders who did speak out against the repression were themselves targeted for death.
At the time, Bergoglio was one of the Church’s rising stars who chose the politically (and physically) safe posture of maintaining silence, lodging no public protest, staying on good terms with the junta and now asserting that he undertook a few private efforts to save lives.
Yet, after the Dirty War, amid efforts to exact some accountability for the political slaughter, Bergoglio resisted cooperation with human right trials and, when he finally testified in 2010, his answers were evasive, human rights attorney Myriam Bregman told the Associated Press.
Regarding the practice of harvesting babies from doomed women and then farming them out to military families, Bergoglio has insisted that he didn’t know of the practice until well after the Dirty War was over.
However, Estela de la Cuadra family contradicted Bergoglio’s claim of ignorance in citing a 1977 case in which Jesuits in Rome urged Bergoglio to intervene regarding the kidnapping of Estela’s sister Elena, who was five months’ pregnant. The police reported back that the woman was a communist and thus was killed but her baby girl was first delivered and then given to an “important” family.

“Bergoglio has a very cowardly attitude when it comes to something so terrible as the theft of babies,” Estela de la Cuadra told the AP. “The question is how to save his name, save himself. But he can’t keep these allegations from reaching the public. The people know how he is.”
http://consortiumnews.com/2013/05/17/argentinas-dapper-state-terrorist-2/

Magda Hassan
05-18-2013, 01:03 AM
Reagan and Argentina’s Dirty War May 17, 2013

Exclusive: The 87-year-old ex-Argentine dictator Jorge Videla died Friday in prison where he was serving sentences for grotesque human rights crimes in the 1970s and 1980s. But one of Videla’s key backers, the late President Ronald Reagan, continues to be honored by Americans, writes Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
The death of ex-Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla, a mastermind of the right-wing state terrorism that swept Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s, means that one more of Ronald Reagan’s old allies is gone from the scene.
Videla, who fancied himself a theoretician of anti-leftist repression, died in prison at age 87 after being convicted of a central role in the Dirty War that killed some 30,000 people and involved kidnapping the babies of “disappeared” women so they could be raised by military officers who were often implicated in the murders of the mothers.

Ronald Reagan photographed in a cowboy hat at Rancho Del Cielo in 1976.

The leaders of the Argentine junta also saw themselves as pioneers in the techniques of torture and psychological operations, sharing their lessons with other regional dictatorships. Indeed, the chilling word “disappeared” was coined in recognition of their novel tactic of abducting dissidents off the streets, torturing them and then murdering them in secret – sometimes accomplishing the task by chaining naked detainees together and pushing them from planes over the Atlantic Ocean.
With such clandestine methods, the dictatorship could leave the families in doubt while deflecting international criticism by suggesting that the “disappeared” might have traveled to faraway lands to live in luxury, thus combining abject terror with clever propaganda and disinformation.
To pull off the trick, however, required collaborators in the U.S. news media who would defend the junta and heap ridicule on anyone who alleged that the thousands upon thousands of “disappeared” were actually being systematically murdered. One such ally was Ronald Reagan, who used his platform as a newspaper and radio commentator in the late 1970s to minimize the human rights crimes underway in Argentina – and to counter the Carter administration’s human rights protests.
For instance, in a newspaper column (http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2206&dat=19780817&id=SJ9jAAAAIBAJ&sjid=q-sFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1251,3083806) on Aug. 17, 1978, some 2½ years into Argentina’s Dirty War, Reagan portrayed Videla’s junta as the real victims here, the good guys who were getting a bad rap for their reasonable efforts to protect the public from terrorism. Reagan wrote:
“The new government set out to restore order at the same time it started to rebuild the nation’s ruined economy. It is very close to succeeding at the former, and well on its way to the latter. Inevitably in the process of rounding up hundreds of suspected terrorists, the Argentine authorities have no doubt locked up a few innocent people, too. This problem they should correct without delay.
“The incarceration of a few innocents, however, is no reason to open the jails and let the terrorists run free so they can begin a new reign of terror. Yet, the Carter administration, so long on self-righteousness and frequently so short on common sense, appears determined to force the Argentine government to do just that.”
Rather than challenge the Argentine junta over the thousands of “disappearances,” Reagan expressed concern that the United States was making a grave mistake by alienating Argentina, “a country important to our future security.”
He mocked U.S. Ambassador Raul Castro who “mingles in Buenos Aires plazas with relatives of the locked-up suspected terrorists, thus seeming to legitimize all their claims to martyrdom. It went unreported in this country, but not a single major Argentine official showed up at this year’s Fourth of July celebration at the U.S. Embassy – an unprecedented snub but hardly surprising under the circumstances.”
The Cocaine Connection
Reagan’s Argentine friends also took the lead in devising ways to fund the anti-communist crusade through the drug trade. In 1980, the Argentine intelligence services helped organize the so-called Cocaine Coup in Bolivia, deploying neo-Nazi thugs to violently oust the left-of-center government and replace it with generals closely tied to the early cocaine trafficking networks.
Bolivia’s coup regime ensured a reliable flow of coca to Colombia’s Medellin cartel, which quickly grew into a sophisticated conglomerate for smuggling cocaine into the United States. Some of those drug profits then went to finance right-wing paramilitary operations across the region, according to U.S. government investigations.
For instance, Bolivian cocaine kingpin Roberto Suarez invested more than $30 million in various right-wing paramilitary operations, according to U.S. Senate testimony in 1987 by an Argentine intelligence officer, Leonardo Sanchez-Reisse. He testified that the Suarez drug money was laundered through front companies in Miami before going to Central America, where Argentine intelligence helped organize a paramilitary force, called the Contras, to attack leftist-ruled Nicaragua.
After defeating President Carter in Election 1980 and becoming President in January 1981, Reagan entered into a covert alliance with the Argentine junta. He ordered the CIA to collaborate with Argentina’s Dirty War experts in training the Contras, who were soon rampaging through towns in northern Nicaragua, raping women and dragging local officials into public squares for executions. Some Contras also went to work in the cocaine-smuggling business. [See Robert Parry’s Lost History (http://www.neckdeepbook.com/).]
Much as he served as a pitch man for the Argentine junta, Reagan also deflected allegations of human rights violations by the Contras and various right-wing regimes in Central America, including Guatemala where another military junta was engaging in genocide against Mayan villages.
The behind-the-scenes intelligence relationship between the Argentine generals and Reagan’s CIA puffed up Argentina’s self-confidence so much that the generals felt they could not only continue repressing their own citizens but could settle an old score with Great Britain over control of the Falkland Islands, what the Argentines call the Malvinas.
Even as Argentina moved to invade the islands in 1982, the Reagan administration was divided between America’s traditional alliance with Great Britain and its more recent collaboration with the Argentines. Reagan’s U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick joined the Argentine generals for an elegant state dinner in Washington.
Finally, however, Reagan sided with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher whose counterattack drove the Argentines from the islands and led to the eventual collapse of the dictatorship in Buenos Aires. However, Argentina only slowly began to address the shocking crimes of the Dirty War.
Baby Snatching
The trial of Videla and co-defendant Reynaldo Bignone for the baby snatching did not end until 2012 when an Argentine court convicted the pair in the scheme to murder leftist mothers and farm their infants out to military personnel, a shocking process that was known to the Reagan administration even as it worked closely with the bloody regime in the 1980s.
Testimony at the trial (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/ex-argentine-dictators-videla-bignone-convicted-of-having-babies-stolen-from-slain-dissidents/2012/07/05/gJQAXYHeQW_story.html) included a videoconference from Washington with Elliott Abrams, Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs who said he urged Bignone to reveal the babies’ identities as Argentina began a transition to democracy in 1983. Abrams said the Reagan administration “knew that it wasn’t just one or two children,” indicating that U.S. officials believed there was a high-level “plan because there were many people who were being murdered or jailed.”
A human rights group, Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, says as many as 500 babies were stolen by the military during the repression from 1976 to 1983.
General Videla was accused of permitting – and concealing – the scheme to harvest infants from pregnant women who were kept alive in military prisons only long enough to give birth. According to the charges, the babies were taken from the new mothers, sometimes after late-night Caesarean sections, and then distributed to military families or sent to orphanages.
After the babies were pulled away, the mothers were removed to another site for their executions. Some were put aboard death flights and pushed out of military planes over open water.
One of the most notorious cases involved Silvia Quintela, a leftist doctor who attended to the sick in shanty towns around Buenos Aires. On Jan. 17, 1977, Quintela was abducted off a Buenos Aires street by military authorities because of her political leanings. At the time, Quintela and her agronomist husband Abel Madariaga were expecting their first child.
According to witnesses who later testified before a government truth commission, Quintela was held at a military base called Campo de Mayo, where she gave birth to a baby boy. As in similar cases, the infant then was separated from the mother.
What happened to the boy is still not clear, but Quintela reportedly was transferred to a nearby airfield. There, victims were stripped naked, shackled in groups and dragged aboard military planes. The planes then flew out over the Rio de la Plata or the Atlantic Ocean, where soldiers pushed the victims out of the planes and into the water to drown.
According to a report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Argentine military viewed the kidnappings as part of the larger counterinsurgency strategy.
“The anguish generated in the rest of the surviving family because of the absence of the disappeared would develop, after a few years, into a new generation of subversive or potentially subversive elements, thereby not permitting an effective end to the Dirty War,” the commission said in describing the army’s reasoning for kidnapping the infants of murdered women. The kidnapping strategy conformed with the “science” of the Argentine counterinsurgency operations.
According to government investigations, the military’s intelligence officers also advanced Nazi-like methods of torture by testing the limits of how much pain a human being could endure before dying. The torture methods included experiments with electric shocks, drowning, asphyxiation and sexual perversions, such as forcing mice into a woman’s vagina. Some of the implicated military officers had trained at the U.S.-run School of the Americas.
The Argentine tactics were emulated throughout Latin America. According to a Guatemalan truth commission, the right-wing military there also adopted the practice of taking suspected subversives on death flights, although over the Pacific Ocean.
Spinning Terror
Gen. Videla, in particular, took pride in his counterinsurgency theories, including clever use of words to confuse and deflect. Known for his dapper style and his English-tailored suits, Videla rose to power amid Argentina’s political and economic unrest in the early-to-mid 1970s.
“As many people as necessary must die in Argentina so that the country will again be secure,” he declared in 1975 in support of a “death squad” known as the Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance. [See A Lexicon of Terror by Marguerite Feitlowitz.]
On March 24, 1976, Videla led the military coup which ousted the ineffective president, Isabel Peron. Though armed leftist groups had been shattered by the time of the coup, the generals still organized a counterinsurgency campaign to wipe out any remnants of what they judged political subversion.
Videla called this “the process of national reorganization,” intended to reestablish order while inculcating a permanent animosity toward leftist thought. “The aim of the Process is the profound transformation of consciousness,” Videla announced.
Along with selective terror, Videla employed sophisticated public relations methods. He was fascinated with techniques for using language to manage popular perceptions of reality. The general hosted international conferences on P.R. and awarded a $1 million contract to the giant U.S. firm of Burson Marsteller. Following the Burson Marsteller blueprint, the Videla government put special emphasis on cultivating American reporters from elite publications.
“Terrorism is not the only news from Argentina, nor is it the major news,” went the optimistic P.R. message. Since the jailings and executions of dissidents were rarely acknowledged, Videla felt he could count on friendly U.S. media personalities to defend his regime, people like former California Gov. Ronald Reagan.
In a grander context, Videla and the other generals saw their mission as a crusade to defend Western Civilization against international communism. They worked closely with the Asian-based World Anti-Communist League and its Latin American affiliate, the Confederacion Anticomunista Latinoamericana [CAL].
Latin American militaries collaborated on projects such as the cross-border assassinations of political dissidents. Under one project, called Operation Condor, political leaders — centrist and leftist alike — were shot or bombed in Buenos Aires, Rome, Madrid, Santiago and Washington. Operation Condor sometimes employed CIA-trained Cuban exiles as assassins. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Hitler’s Shadow Reaches toward Today (http://www.consortiumnews.com/2010/121710.html),” or Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege (http://www.neckdeepbook.com/).]
For their roles in the baby kidnappings, Videla, who was already in prison for other crimes against humanity, was sentenced to 50 years; Bignone received 15 years.
Earlier in May 2103, Guatemala’s ex-dictator Efrain Rios Montt, another close ally of Ronald Reagan, was convicted of genocide against Mayan Indians in 1982-83 and was sentenced to 80 years in prison. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ronald Reagan: Accessory to Genocide (http://consortiumnews.com/2013/05/11/ronaldreagan-accessory-to-genocide/).”]
Yet, while fragile democracies in places like Argentina and Guatemala have sought some level of accountability for these crimes against humanity, the United States continues to honor the principal political leader who aided, abetted and rationalized these atrocities across the entire Western Hemisphere, the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan.
http://consortiumnews.com/2013/05/17/reagan-and-argentinas-dirty-war/