The ex-dictator of Argentina, Jorge Rafael Videla, died today in the Marcos Paz penitentiary, where he was serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity. He was 87 years old.
This morning, the wife of a soldier, Cecilia Pando, confirmed via Radio Once Diez: “Videla died in his sleep. Last night he didn’t want to eat supper because he was feeling ill.”
But judicial information indicates that Videla died in the bathroom of the federal prison’s unit for crimes against humanity. Since last night, he had been having stomach trouble. This morning, he got up, and as he was entering the washroom, he fell to the floor and died.
Videla was condemned to 50 years’ imprisonment for theft of babies. The sentence was handed down by the Sixth Oral Federal Tribunal, and was added to other previous sentences. Bignone, the last de facto president of the Argentine junta, received 15 years. The tribunal investigated 35 cases of children born in captivity.
Videla was born in Mercedes, in the province of Buenos Aires, on August 2, 1925. He became president following a military coup on the 24th of March, 1976, and remained in that post until 1981. Following the return to democracy in 1983, Videla went on trial and was sentenced to life in prison and stripped of his military rank for numerous crimes against humanity committed while he was in power.
Videla entered the National Military College on March 3, 1942, and graduated on December 21, 1944, with the rank of second lieutenant of the infantry. He attended the War Academy between 1952 and 1954 and graduated as an officer of the High Command. He was a member of the Secretariat of Defence between 1958 and 1960, and directed the Military Academy until 1962. In 1971 he rose to the rank of brigadier general and was named by Alejandro Agustín Lanusse as director of the National Military College. At the end of 1973, Comandante Leandro Anaya named him Chief of the High Command of the Army, and on August 27, 1975, President María Estela Martínez de Perón named him Commander in Chief of the Army.
On March 24, 1976, Videla, along with Emilio Eduardo Massera and Orlando Ramón Agosti, headed the military coup that deposed President María Estela Martínez de Perón, dissolved all political parties, and closed the National Congress, giving rise to the so-called “National Reorganization Process”.
What with Ríos Montt convicted and going to prison (and pulling a Pinochet to try to get out of it), and Videla dying there, this has been one good week for riddance to bad rubbish. Just a pity that none of the US spooks who aided and abetted these vile criminals will ever see justice.