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Argentina, 30 Years After Bloody Coup
Newly declassified documents show U.S. role in 1970s Latin American dictatorships
Fernando Marino-Aguirre (kalonik)     Print Article 
Published 2006-03-28 13:45 (KST)   
President Nestor Kirchner hugs Hebe de Bonafini, founder of 'Madres de Plaza de Mayo,' an organization of mothers who lost loved ones during the dark years of dictatorship in Argentina.
©2006 Govt of Argentina
Last Friday, the Argentine people remembered the bloodiest dictatorship in their history, demanding justice and punishment for those guilty of wholesale violations of human rights.

A day before, on March 23, the National Security Archive posted a series of declassified U.S. documents, and, for the first time, secret documents from Southern Cone intelligence agencies detailing evidence of massive atrocities committed by the military junta in Argentina.

Two days after the military coup, on March 26, 1976, Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America, William Rogers, informed Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that "we've got to expect a fair amount of repression -- probably a good deal of blood -- in Argentina before too long. I think they're going to have to come down very hard not only on the terrorists but on the dissidents in trade unions and their parties."

That was a clear prediction of what would soon be happening. Nearly 30,000 opponents of the military junta were kidnapped, tortured, and assassinated, the bodies being buried clandestinely or thrown from helicopters into the sea.

The first dictator, General Jorge Rafael Videla (1976-81), was condemned in 1985 to life in prison for murder, torture, kidnapping and robbery. The second strong man of that government, Admiral Emilio Massera, was similarly condemned.

Nevertheless, in 1989 and 1990, President Menem pardoned them, although they were guilty of crimes against humanity.

Upon their release, they were rearrested on charges of taking babies from mothers who had "disappeared" and giving them to childless cronies and others. At the moment, the Argentine Supreme Court is deliberating the constitutionality of the initial pardons.

Out of the estimated 30,000 people who "disappeared," more than 60 percent were kidnapped at home, in front of witnesses. Nearly 80 percent of them were between 16 and 35-years-old. Thirty percent of those kidnapped were workers, 20 percent were students and more than 100 journalists met the same fate.

Human rights organizations are focusing now to track down the nearly 500 babies who were taken from their imprisoned parents and "adopted" to other families.

The unclassified documents also prove the existence of a coordinated plan of repression among the different armies in the Southern Cone (Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay).

In Argentina, President Nestor Kirchner said that there "cannot be reconciliation if there is some space of impunity," during the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the military coup.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Fernando Marino-Aguirre

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