A Huge Step for Argentina

A Huge Step for Argentina

This, quite frankly, is the best news to come out of Argentina in years as far as I'm concerned. Had this happened 20 years ago there might have been some faith in the system and a stronger, more effective government might have come of it. Thanks to Aeval for passing the story along to me.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050614/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/argentina_human_rights

Yahoo News said:
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Argentina's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that laws granting amnesty for atrocities committed during the so-called Dirty War are unconstitutional, opening the possibility that hundreds of people could be brought back to court.

Human rights groups say up to 30,000 people disappeared during Argentina's 1976-83 military rule in a crackdown on leftist dissidents.

In a 7-1 vote, with one abstention, the Supreme Court struck down laws passed in 1986 forbidding charges involved in the disappearances, torture and other crimes, a court spokesman told The Associated Press.

Some 3,000 officers, about 300 of whom are still serving in the armed forces, could be called for questioning, according to human rights groups, which estimated that up to 400 of them could face new charges.

The ruling came in the case of Julio Simon, a former police officer accused in the disappearance of Jose Poblete and Gertrudis Hlaczik, and of his taking their daughter, Claudia Poblete, as his own.

Under Argentine law, the ruling serves as precedent in other cases involving atrocities during the Dirty War.

Hours before the verdict was delivered, Defense Minister Jose Pampuro said there was apprehension in the armed forces about the possibility of reopening trials.

"In a personal capacity, some men who might be involved in some situation are expressing worry," he said in a television interview.
 

nrabbit

Diabloii.Net Member
this sounds good :thumbsup:
i am not familiar with those dirty wars but 30,000 people missing...i mean wow!
hope justice will be served
 
nrabbit said:
this sounds good :thumbsup:
i am not familiar with those dirty wars but 30,000 people missing...i mean wow!
hope justice will be served
Some more information on the Dirty War:

Site dedicated to those who have gone missing, some potentially disturbing testimonies from those who were "desaparecido" and later released.


List of links to some very disturbing and depressing US Embassy memos sent from the embassy in Buenos Aires back to Washington describing testimony and stories from Americans who were taken into custody.


From Wikipedia:

Wikipedia said:
A Dirty War (in Spanish: Guerra Sucia) refers to a program of state terrorism in response to perceived subversion that threatens a country's stability. Such wars typicaly include violent repression of rebels and dissidents, including torture and murder.

The term is particularly used in reference to the purges of dissidents carried out between 1976 and 1983 by the military government in Argentina. During this period between 10,000 and 30,000 Argentineans were killed or "disappeared" and many thousands more were imprisoned and tortured.

In 1975, President Isabel Martinez de Perón, under pressure from the military establishment, appointed Jorge Rafael Videla commander-in-chief of the Argentine Army. He was one of the military heads of the coup d'état that would overthrow Perón on March 24, 1976. In her place, a military junta was installed, which was headed by Admiral Emilio Massera, General Orlando Agosti and Videla himself.

By mid-1975, the country was in chaos. Extreme right death squads used their hunt for far-left guerrillas (like the Montoneros) as a pretext to exterminate their ideological opponents on the left and as a cover for common crimes. In July, there was a general strike. Wealthy, conservative landowners encouraged the army, which prepared to take control by making lists of people who should be 'dealt with' after the planned coup. "As many people as necessary must die in Argentina so that the country will again be secure," Videla declared in 1975 in support of the death squads.

The junta was responsible for the slaughtering of an estimated 10,000 to 30,000 Argentineans, mostly trade-union members, students and people thought to espouse left wing views.

Relatives of the victims, however, continued to uncover evidence that some children taken from their mothers' wombs were being raised as the adopted children of their mothers' murderers, as in the case of Silvia Quintela. For 15 years, a group called The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo has been demanding the return of these kidnapped children, estimated to number as many as 500. Some victims were even pushed out of planes and into the water of the Rio de la Plata or the Atlantic Ocean to drown.

In 1977, Videla told British journalists: "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." Yet, there are people such as Alicia Partnoy, who was tortured and has written her story in "The Little School", who claim otherwise.

In 1980 Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, a Catholic human rights activist who had organized the "Servicio de Paz y Justicia" and suffered torture while held without trial for 14 months in a Buenos Aires concentration camp, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in the defense of human rights in Argentina.

The junta's mission was to defend against international communism. They worked closely with the Asian-based World Anti-Communist League and its Latin American affiliate, the Confederación Anticomunista Latinoamericana. In 1980, the Argentine military helped Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and major drug lords mount the bloody Cocaine Coup in neighboring Bolivia.

The Reagan administration believed that former President Jimmy Carter's emphasis on human rights had weakened U.S. diplomatic relationships with Cold War allies, and reversed the previous administration's official condemnation of the junta's human rights practices. The re-establishment of diplomatic ties allowed for CIA collaboration with the Argentine intelligence service in training and arming the Nicaraguan Contras against the Cuban-backed Sandinista government. (see Iran-Contra Affair)

In 1981 Videla retired and General Roberto Eduardo Viola replaced him, but nine months later, Viola stepped down for reasons of health, and General Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri took the post.

In 1982, the Argentine military invaded the British-controlled Falkland Islands, but was quickly defeated by the British, who retook the islands. The loss of the war led to the resignation of Galtieri on June 17 of the same year and a third (and last) junta was placed in power under a new president, Reynaldo Bignone. The occupation of the Falklands accelerated the end of the junta rule.

The junta relinquished power in 1983. After democratic elections, incoming president Raúl Alfonsín created a truth commission to collect evidence about the Dirty War crimes. The gruesome details shocked the world. Videla was among the generals convicted of human rights crimes, including "disappearances", torture, murders and kidnappings. In 1985, Videla was sentenced to life imprisonment at the military prison of Magdalena. However, on December 29, 1990, President Carlos Menem pardoned Videla and other convicted generals. Some viewed the pardons as a pragmatic decision of national reconciliation that sought to please the military and thus prevent further uprisings. Others condemned it as unconstitutional, noting that the constitutionally acknowledged right of the president to pardon does not extend to those who have not yet been convicted — which was the situation in the case of some military officials. Ironically, dictator Videla was de facto incapable of leaving his house, since every time he went out in public he risked insults or assault. At one time, the street was painted with enormous arrows pointing to his house, and the words: '30,000 disappeared, assassin on the loose'.

Foreign governments whose citizens were victims of the Dirty War are pressing individual cases against the former military regime. France has sought the extradition of Captain Alfredo Astiz for the kidnapping and murder of its nationals.

In 1998, Videla received a prison sentence for his role in the kidnapping of 11 children during the regime and for the falsification of the children's identity documents.

In 2001, Jorge Zorreguieta, a civilian who was former Undersecretary of Agriculture in the Videla regime, became the focus of attention when his daughter Máxima became engaged to the Crown Prince of the Netherlands. The significance of his potential connection to the Dutch royal family, and his possible presence at a royal wedding was hotly debated for several months. Zorreguieta claimed that, as a civilian, he was unaware of the Dirty War while he was a cabinet minister, however, that would have been unlikely for a person in such a powerful position in the government. Formal charges have never been brought against him, but he was banned from attending the royal wedding which was held in Amsterdam on February 2, 2002.

On April 15, 2005, a human rights lawyer filed a criminal complaint against Argentine cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, accusing him of conspiring with the junta in 1976 to kidnap two Jesuit priests. So far, no hard evidence has been presented linking the cardinal to this crime. It is known that the cardinal was the superior figure in the Society of Jesus of Argentina (Jesuits) during 1976 and had asked the two priests to leave their pastoral work following conflict within the Society over how to respond to the new military dictatorship, with some priests advocating a violent overthrow. Bergoglio's spokesman has flatly denied the allegations. [1] (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20050416.wkidnap0416/BNStory/Front)

It should be noted that Bergoglio was a key figure in securing the priests' release following their abduction by an Argentine navy squad, as he pressured Navy Chief of Staff Emilio Massera.

The complaint was filed as the Roman Catholic Conclave prepared to convene to select a new pope, likely as a means of protesting Bergoglio's candidacy.
 

axeil

Diabloii.Net Member
Wow...just wow.

I'm glad they can finally start moving on such sacks of scum. I read some of the accounts and they're absolutely horrifying. Thank God this evil chapter of human history is almost at an end.
 

Aeval

Diabloii.Net Member
If only. It amazes me to this day how many mothers don't know what happened to the children they birthed while under arrest, and how many children have absolutely no idea who thier parents truely are.

It's about time the government started getting more serious.
 
Stevinator said:
hmmmmmm, yeah it didn't happen in america so it must not be that important.



:)
Actually, it did happen in America. See, America is broken up into three parts, North America, Central America, and South America. These events took place in the Southern iteration of America.

:)
 

KnightFall

Diabloii.Net Member
Truely disturbing stuff there DC.

Why has it taken so long for this to happen though, if issues surrounding it came up in 1998 and 2001 like it says in the article?

KnightFall
 
KnightFall said:
Truely disturbing stuff there DC.

Why has it taken so long for this to happen though, if issues surrounding it came up in 1998 and 2001 like it says in the article?

KnightFall
Many reasons. I can remember when I was there around 1993ish there was a faux coup attempt when Menem started talking about putting these people on trial. The military had tanks driving down the highway around the capital. During the 80s, the military stepped down with a lot of reservations--they weren't thrown out so much as they realized they had totally botched things and frankly couldn't handle it anymore, so wanted to pass the buck off on an elected government. They did, however, write themselves into a lot of protections from prosecution, much like Mr. Pinochet in Chile. They also were not hesitant to drive a tank down the streets of the capital brandishing their weapons to remind everyone that they were more than capable of reassuming command of the government if things didn't go their way. Keep in mind that since 1930 Argentina has fluctuated between democracy and military dictatorship in a 10ish year cycle. Just about once a decade the government would switch from one to the other.

More recently, there has been a lot of pressure on the government from behind the scenes not to do such things. The military is still a powerful force in Argentine politics, albeit from behind the scenes, and corruption is abundant in the government, so really any number of things could have been preventing legislators or judges from making the decisions they wanted to make; bribes are common, and I can recall a minister in the Menem administration "committing suicide". I think the joke that circulated the country after this suicide was "Menem was at the dentist, and his dentist came into the room. "hey, Mr. President, did you hear? So-and-so just committed suicide!" Menem: "Wow, is it three already? We'd better hurry this along!""

At any rate, bottom line is fear. These people all lived through 10+ years of absolute terror. Someone would get implicated and abducted, and they would torture them in the ways you've read about to get names. As you can imagine, when these people were subjected to such treatment, they spouted off any names they could think of to get the pain to stop--neighbors, friends, professors, family...anyone was prone to getting plucked from their homes in the middle of the night or off the street corner in broad daylight. Even moreso if anyone suspected you of anything.

The fact that rule of law hasn't really taken firm root in Argentina and moreover, the government officials aren't always held accountable for their actions leads one to be VERY wary of any authority figure. When I lived in Argentina I was always taught to be afraid of the police and to avoid them at all costs, even at the age of 10. I wouldn't have wanted to be one of these judges--I can only imagine the abstention was someone who buckled under unseen pressure. Perhaps he got an envelope in the mail with a picture of his wife and children grocery shopping. Who knows. Kidnappings are also becoming commonplace in Argentina, and as investigations go on it's turning out that those who are committing them tend to be unemployed military or police officers who've been cut. They still have contacts and access to the weapons, and are trained, so they put that training to use kidnapping teenagers for ransom. I can only imagine what they'd do if they realized they or their family members might be threatened by this court decision.

Bottom line is that I'm utterly shocked this has happened now. The country is in shambles and honestly hasn't had good news come out of it in several years. This, however, is the most hopeful news I've seen in a long time, and not just for the obvious reasons. What it means is that the government is developing a newfound crediblity. For years the Argentine people have been a bitter, cynical bunch, stuck in a country that claimed democracy, freedom, and justice, but treated the 1970s as though it never happened and shouldn't be talked about. It was that family Christmas where Grandpa got drunk and hit Grandma--no one said anything, and afterwards you just didn't mention it. Finally, however, the government has stepped up and asserted itself to deal with the situation, and in doing so has demonstrated a willingness to do something it hasn't shown before--to enforce difficult laws and difficult decisions, despite pressures not to. This decision does more for the credibility and legitimacy of the Argentine government than anything they've done in the last 20 years.
 

KnightFall

Diabloii.Net Member
Wow, that's a tale of misery and no mistake. I knew things were bad there but didn't realise quite how awfull things really were.

Has there not been outside pressure on the Argentinian Government to sort things out? The way world politics are these days I would have thought that would have happened by now...

KnightFall
 
KnightFall said:
Wow, that's a tale of misery and no mistake. I knew things were bad there but didn't realise quite how awfull things really were.

Has there not been outside pressure on the Argentinian Government to sort things out? The way world politics are these days I would have thought that would have happened by now...

KnightFall
There was some, originally, but to be honest when the shift came to begin with from military to democracy, the US, who was the major player in the region at the time, wasn't terribly excited about the shift. To give you an idea, in my studies of the events (which were extensive, as I wrote several semester term papers on the Dirty Wars), I can recall a passage highlighting the party that spontaneously broke out among the military heads in Argentina when news broke that Carter had lost and Reagan was on his way in. Given that, at least in that day, the US did actually consider Latin America an important area, if only as a front in the Cold War, and the fact that the US had turned a blind eye to it all for so long, members of the administration here weren't really the first on the "prosecute the military" bandwagon. They were more concerned about keeping leftists out and not getting dragged into the mess themselves.

There was certainly pressure, from countries like Spain and France, who had citizens "disappeared" in the mess, but little really came of it. This wasn't something that was going to happen overnight, and the world spotlight had plenty of other things to focus on (end of the Cold War was just around the corner), and eventually it was just hushed and left to fester. The only ones really keeping on the bandwagon were the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, (http://www.madres.org/) who have led a march through the Plaza de Mayo, the park in front of the Presidential Palace, every Thursday since 1977. A good quick summary of them in English: http://www.iisg.nl/collections/madres.html

They kept the movement alive, and there have been books, movies, and occassional interviews over the years since this happened, but frankly there have been more recent and more "exciting" matters clouding the international focus, and this, along with similar events in Brazil, Peru, Chile, and other South American nations, was written off as one of the side effects of the Cold War. The fact that this hasn't even made headlines in any major news outlets (I've seen it on a few news sites, and read a blurb in the paper this morning, but haven't seen a breath of it on any major news network--MJ is more important, clearly) gives you an idea of how important it's deemed.
 

KnightFall

Diabloii.Net Member
said:
On April 30, 1977, a group of 14 mothers who had met in the waiting rooms of police stations while trying to discover the whereabouts of their children, organized the first of a continuing series of demonstrations in front of the Presidential Palace on the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. Ever since, each Thursday afternoon they demand that the fate of the victims be made known. The enormous risks they took was illustrated by the fact that some of them, including Azucena de Villaflor, their first president, themselves disappeared. In spite of this, the group soon counted some 150 members and grew to comprise several thousands in 1982-83. The Mothers created a formidable national network and obtained the support of Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
All I can say is.. Wow!

What bravery these women showed in light of what was going on.

It sounds like the place is a right mess really, do you actually think whats just happened will make much difference though. Because from what you've said and what I've read it seems to me nothing much will change/improve for the people from it. Ok some people might get locked up for things that happened 25 years ago, but what's that to most of the population?

KnightFall
 
KnightFall said:
All I can say is.. Wow!

What bravery these women showed in light of what was going on.

It sounds like the place is a right mess really, do you actually think whats just happened will make much difference though. Because from what you've said and what I've read it seems to me nothing much will change/improve for the people from it. Ok some people might get locked up for things that happened 25 years ago, but what's that to most of the population?

KnightFall
Let me put it like this--in a country with as many problems as Argentina has, a populace that is 100% cynical and untrusting of the government and it's ability to enforce basic laws and decisions means that the government is often powerless to enact change. If the government can manage to make something of this decision and move forward with it, perhaps put some people in jail, release some records (if they haven't all been destroyed), and do so publicly, they might just regain some trust back. Trust in the government also means a little more respect for authority--if the police went to these military people's houses and arrested them rather than being bribed and letting them escape, who knows, maybe the next time someone gets pulled over for speeding they think twice about bribing the officer to get out of it. Perhaps a few more people decide to pay their taxes.

Over time, it means that people might have more faith in the court system, might actually care to participate in the democracy (voting is mandatory, but you don't have to vote for a specific set of candidates--I can recall an election a few years ago where a write-in cartoon ostrich took a significant portion of the vote, running on the motto "I don't have arms so I can't steal!"). This won't change things overnight, but I think it might help to arm the Argentine government with some basic tools that are absolutely necessary to running a country, and moreover to dragging a country out of an economic quagmire that's going to mean things get worse before they get better. Basically, it's widely accepted that in order for things to get economically better in Argentina over the long run, things are going to have to get worse first for a few years. With an unemployment rate somewhere around 25%, that's not a happy prospect, and certainly not something a democratically elected government rep wants to be held accountable for. However, if people can begin to trust their politicians and have some faith in the system, perhaps steps can be taken and Argentina can start thinking for the long run rather than trying to find short term bandaids that make enough people happy to get the politicians reelected.
 

KnightFall

Diabloii.Net Member
Very good points there, I see what you mean.

Hopefully somethings will change for the people there, it must be a nightmare living under those conditions. It is very hard to convince people enough has changed to gain the trust of the public though I imagine.

And I'd vote for the ostrich with such a great slogan!

KnightFall
 
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