Justice at last for (some) Argentine desaparicidos

“The Disappeared: We all miss them.”

Dear MAGAts* and other fascist symps of the 21st century, you who are so fond of offering “free helicopter rides” to dissenters: Behold your evil idols, falling fast and smashing on the rocks like they did to their victims…

Two former Argentinian military pilots have been given life sentences for their part in the death of a close friend of Pope Francis, who was hurled to her death from an aircraft during the country’s 1976-83 dictatorship.

The ruling on Wednesday marked the first Argentinian judgement against participants in the so-called “death flights”, in which opponents of Argentina’s military regime were thrown into the freezing waters of the South Atlantic in an attempt to hide the murders.

The court heard that former coastguard pilots Mario Daniel Arrú and Alejandro Domingo D’Agostino were in the crew of the Skyvan PA-51 plane from which Esther Careaga and 11 other people were thrown to their death on the night of 14 December 1977. Careaga was a close friend of Jorge Bergoglio, who decades later became Pope Francis.

The pilots were among the 54 defendants in the massive trial, which also involved the cases of 789 victims of the Navy Mechanics Higher School, ESMA, in Buenos Aires, where up to 5,000 people are estimated to have been killed.

And for those who argue that the murderers and torturers and the pilots of the planes were “just doing their jobs”…may I remind you of where else that excuse did not wash? Yeah, that’s right, “alt”-right punks…your OG Nazis didn’t all get away with it either. (Mind you, those of them who did go to trial and learn this hard lesson there didn’t take nearly as long for justice to catch up to them. But then, World War II was not a Dirty War.)

Meanwhile, here’s what Papa Frankie himself had to say about his dear friend who was among the disappeared:

Careaga was seized by the military after denouncing the disappearance of her pregnant 16-year-old daughter Ana María. Along with two French nuns and nine others, she was thrown from a plane that left the city’s airport on the night of 14 December 1977. The court found that Arrú and D’Agostino had piloted the three-hour flight.

Careaga’s body, along with those of one of the nuns, Léonie Duquet, and two other mothers, Azucena Villaflor and María Bianco, washed ashore six days later and were buried in a common grave. Their remains were only identified via DNA testing in 2003.

Jorge Bergoglio met Careaga when he worked as an apprentice at a pharmaceutical laboratory in Buenos Aires in the early 1950s. Careaga was a feminist far ahead of her time, a biochemist and Bergoglio’s boss.

Bergoglio and Careaga developed a close friendship that they maintained up to the moment of her kidnapping by an ESMA death squad on the evening of 8 December 1977.

“Careaga was a good friend and a great woman,” said Bergoglio, then archbishop of Buenos Aires, when the bodies of the three mothers were identified in 2003.

Just a little reminder that the victims of fascist dictatorships are not insects, nor are they scum. They are people. INNOCENT people. People with a right to life, and whose deaths leave behind gaping holes in the fabric of society. People who leave behind unfinished work, parentless children and grandchildren, childless parents and grandparents. People who are sorely missed and never forgotten by the many people they loved, and who in turn loved them. And one of those people would later go on to become no less than a pope of the Roman Catholic Church.

And for those who say “But they’re old, why does it matter now?” — shut the fuck up. It MATTERS. It matters to those left behind, whose pain is still raw after 40 years. It matters for them to see justice done, no matter how late. And it matters to see that justice is done without leniency for the now-aged perpetrators, because what clemency did the innocent receive when they were drugged, flown over the Río de la Plata, and then hurled to their deaths — and all for not submitting willingly to fascist dictatorship?

Most of all, it matters because it sets a precedent for future cases…in case any damn fools are tempted to resurrect the Argentine fascist junta in the days to come. Maybe next time, it won’t take 40 years to bring THEM to justice.

*pronounced “maggots”, for reasons obvious.

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