Monday, April 30, 2012

Former Argentine dictator admits to disappearances

The leader of Argentina’s last military dictatorship has admitted for the first time that his government disappeared people during its 1976-1983 rule, and that it gave some of the children of the disappeared up for adoption.
Earlier this month and late last year, former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla (right) gave several jailhouse interviews to journalist Ceferino Reato, during which he admitted for the first time that “7,000 or 8,000 people had to die to win the war against the subversives” between 1976 and 1981 (when Videla was President), and that they were disappeared
'so as not to provoke protests inside and outside the country.'
(my translation) (credit for 1979 photo)
CONADEP (the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons), the truth commission that investigated the crimes committed during Argentina’s dictatorship, found evidence that nearly 9,000 people were disappeared by the government, though human rights groups estimate the number to be closer to 30,000.
Although Videla’s admission that the government disappeared people is certainly noteworthy, he skirted the issue of the abduction of children and babies who were taken from their disappeared parents and illegally adopted by families who sympathized with the government.
In a video taken during one of the interviews,Videla, now 86 and serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity in connection with the dictatorship, admits that some children were taken and given up for adoption, “with the best intentions,” but that there was no systematic plan to relocate children to other families.
As yours truly, Elizabeth B. Ludwin King, wrote about here, it is estimated that 500 children of the disappeared, some of whom were born in the clandestine detention centers where their mothers were tortured and killed, were taken by the government and given up for adoption, sometimes to couples who had a role in the disappearance of the child’s parents. Videla’s carefully chosen words are likely a reflection of the fact that he’s currently on trial for crimes relating to an alleged systematic plan to falsify documents and give babies born at ESMA (the Navy School of Mechanics) and Campo de Mayo – two of the former clandestine detention centers in Buenos Aires – up for adoption. The case centers specifically on 34 children, and the prosecutor has asked for a sentence of 50 years for Videla and another former dictator, co-defendant Reynaldo Bignone. Among the other co-defendants is alleged torturer Jorge “Tigre” Acosta and a doctor, both of whom worked at ESMA.
A judgment in the case is expected in late May.

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