Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Lest we forget: Los Desaparecidos of Argentina 1976 - 1983

Amidst widespread civil unrest, on 24 March 1976 Jorge Rafaél Videla leads a military junta which wrests control of Argentina from the Peronistas, who are judged corrupt and incapable of fending off the challenge posed by leftist guerrillas. Click to view 'Wall of Memory'They institute a Process of National Reorganisation, born of a heady ideological mix of fascism and ultra Catholicism, and aimed at stymieing would-be revolutionaries. This reorganisation includes the institution of martial law, rule by decree, and the outlawing of civil society. To justify his "dirty war" Videla declares:
"A terrorist is not just someone with a gun or a bomb, but also someone who spreads ideas that are contrary to Western and Christian civilisation."
Armed with this conviction up to 30 thousand dissenters are hunted down, tortured, summarily executed or disappeared; while a further half million fly into exile. This cleanse occurs with the apparently tacit approval of the Nixon Whitehouse.

"Look, our basic attitude is that we would like you to succeed. I have an old-fashioned view that friends ought to be supported...The quicker you succeed the better...The human rights problem is a growing one... We want a stable situation. We won't cause you unnecessary difficulties. If you can finish before Congress gets back, the better. Whatever freedoms you could restore would help

-Fmr US Secretary of State and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Henry Kissinger to then Argentine Foreign Minister Admiral César Augusto Guzzetti
Following their ouster the junta leaders are tried. Of the 10 tried, 3 are acquitted outright. The remaining 7, while convicted of crimes which include multiple homicide and torture serve an average of 4 years imprisonment respectively. The legal battle to bring those responsible to justice continues. The composite image comes from the Wall of Memory where you can read bios of over 800 of los desaparecidos, the disappeared ones.

5 Ninjas, 1 Kitten and a Fifth of Vodka!