Big break for Argentina’s disappeared

General Jorge Rafael Videla, de facto military dictator of Argentina, 1976-81.

The wheels of Argentine justice turn with painful, creaking slowness. But they’re still moving, and today comes news that things could start moving forward a lot faster:

Last Thursday, the Airport Security Police raided the homes of Jorge Rafael Videla, Albano Harguindeguy and Santiago Omar Riveros, where they took documents into custody to be analyzed as part of the “Causa de Mayo” case (4012/03).

During the raid, ordered by the federal judge of San Martín, Alicia Vence, authorities seized folders marked “strictly secret and confidential”, audio and video cassettes, a sealed envelope which Videla was thinking of sending to Riveros, and pieces of intelligence.

Also found were official documents of the dictatorship marked “secret”, such as “Guidelines of the Military Junta for the National Executive for the exercise of government actions”.

The magistrate had ordered the seizure of all documentation related to crimes committed during the dictatorship, as well as anything else of interest in the case.

The raid on the homes of Videla, Harguindeguy (the dictatorship’s former Minister of the Interior), and Riveros (ex-commandant of the Military Institutes of Campo de Mayo) came in response to a presentation by Pablo Llonto, a lawyer representing the families of the disappeared.

Llonto made reference to the declarations of Videla which appear in the book Final Disposition, by the journalist Ceferino Reato. “With no need to violate professional secrecy, which is protected for journalists under the Constitution, we ask the judge to have Reato place at our disposition the 20 hours of recordings with Videla which, according to him, were made,” the lawyer said in an interview with Tiempo Argentino.

“We have also written to demand a raid on the home of Videla, in the Avenida Cabildo, to take into custody all documentation having to do with the dictatorship, in search of the lists of disappeared persons. Because Videla himself, in the book, says that there were folders and admits that, at some point, he had folders and papers related to various cases,” Llonto added.

Translation mine.

It looks as though the files and folders in question are now in the hands of the magistrate. It will be interesting to see, in the months ahead, what lies within.

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3 Responses to Big break for Argentina’s disappeared

  1. Cort Greene says:

    I have a close Marxist friend who is the only one in her family to make through this period in Argentina, many of them were drugged, strip naked and dump from a plane over the ocean or were killed in other ways.

    And she and others don’t support much the current government does but hopefully this is a start to find out what happen to many.


    Monday, 30 April 2012
    Argentina: 35th anniversary of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo

    On Thursday, 30 April 1977, a small group of women met in the Plaza de Mayo with the aim of handing over a letter to then-president Jorge Videla, appealing for information about the whereabouts of their children, detained by the military regime. At that time, unauthorised public gatherings of more than three people had been forbidden, so the police moved in to break them up. The women started to move around the square in a circle, linking arms in pairs – there was no ban on just walking in twos. And so one of Argentina’s, and indeed the world’s, most influential human rights groups was born.

    Fast forward 35 years, and the Madres have endured humiliation, persecution, and a split within their own organisation. They have also been honoured internationally, travelled all over the world, assisted relatives’ groups in other countries and finally been acccepted by their own country’s establishment. Some have died, while others have been able to witness the generals on trial for their crimes. But the remaining mothers whose health permits it still gather in the square every Thursday.

    The BBC article has published an excellent background article on the mothers for the anniversary, which also explains the division of the Madres into two separate groups.

    Argentine Mothers mark 35 years marching for justice (BBC)

    See also:

    En la misma plaza como hace 35 años (Pagina/12)

  2. Sabina Becker says:

    Yes, this is definitely a start. I’m often shocked at how long it takes to get these things started. In some ways, it’s like the dictatorship has yet to end. Holding elections does not automatically equal democracy; there has to be a much deeper commitment to democratic processes, especially in the economic sphere. And that’s precisely where so much of the so-called First World is lacking these days.

    And that worries me.

  3. Cort Greene says:

    A video of the rally that was held Monday night in Buenos Aires on the 35th anniversary of the first protest held by the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo group.

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