[News] Argentina Remembers the Military Coup
news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Apr 21 11:48:12 EDT 2009
April 21, 2009
Mobilization Marks 33rd Anniversary of Military Coup
By BENJAMIN DANGL
The weekend that the hemispheres Presidents met
in Trinidad at the Summit of the Americas marked
the same weekend that Cuba defeated the US in the
Bay of Pigs invasion 48 years ago. At the Summit,
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega recalled the
invasion in a speech that rightly criticized US
imperialism throughout the 20th century.
President Barack Obama replied, "I'm grateful
that President Ortega did not blame me for things
that happened when I was three months old."
However, as the US President, Obama inherits a
bloody legacy that is still very much alive in
todays Latin America. Just weeks before the
Presidents met in Trinidad, thousands of
Argentines marched once again to demand justice
for 30,000 people disappeared in a US-backed military dictatorship.
On March 24, 1976 a military junta took power in
Argentina, and until 1981, General Jorge Rafael
Videla presided over the country in a reign of
terror, torture, surveillance and murder.
On March 24, 2009, in Mendoza, Argentina,
colorful marches filled the central streets of
the city in remembrance of the coup, and to
demand justice. The various banners and placards
waving above the crowd were a testament to
Argentinas healthy political diversity in
activism and politics from Maoists selling
their newspapers to Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo
giving teary hugs to supporters and friends.
Though the march was organized around one central
theme justice, truth and memory regarding the
dictatorship other themes arose in the crowd as
well, including the negative impact of soy
production, rising bus fares and political corruption.
The march was a time to remember when Henry
Kissinger gave his blessing to the Argentine
military junta in 1976,
If there are things that have to be done, you
should do them quickly and reassuring the
torturing, bloody leaders
said, I dont want to give the sense that
theyre harassed by the United States.
Marches and protests in Buenos Aires on the same
day were attended by the famous Mothers of the
Plaza de Mayo, a powerful human rights movement
that for decades has been demanding the truth
regarding the whereabouts of their disappeared
document read by some of the Mothers explained
that still, after all these years, the slowness
of justice generates impunity and impunity only creates more impunity.
column by one leading Mother of the Plaza de
Mayo, Hebe Bonafini, explained that her movement
is also doing more than just marching and
lobbying for justice. Their reach has expanded
into all kinds of media and walks of life. They
have opened a literary café and publishing house,
and hold seminars which 2,800 different students
attend. Their Shared Dreams project provides
housing in poor neighborhoods, as well as soup
kitchens and daycare centers. Their radio station
reaches into neighboring Uruguay and as far away as Brazil.
During the Buenos Aires mobilizations, the
Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo
of the fact that today there have still only
been 44 sentences for the authors of a plan of
systematic extermination during the
dictatorship. Therefore, the Mothers said, we
have to keep on fighting for truth and justice,
as there are still 526 criminals of the
dictatorship that still need to be tried. They
demanded an opening of the all of the archives
of the Armed Forces and security to know to the
truth. They also called for the appearance of
Julio López, the main testifier in a case against
Miguel Etchecolatz, a repressor under the dictatorship.
Julio Lopez, a political prisoner during the
dictatorship, was disappeared in 2006 a few hours
before he was scheduled to testify against
Etchecolatz. Lopez was last seen on September
18th, 2006. Journalist Marie Trigona
that Nilda Eloy, another survivor of the
dictatorship who testified with Lopez to convict
Etchecolatz, said that "Most of the evidence
suggests that Julio Lopez was kidnapped by the
gangsters from the Greater Buenos Aires police force and rightwing fascists..."
Outside Buenos Aires other cities remembered
these harsh times that still cast shadows over
generations upon generations. But this March 24
was also a time of hope and reconstruction. In
Cordoba, Argentina, La Perla (The Pearl), a
detention and torture center run by the military
dictatorship was transformed into a Space for
Memory and opened to the public.
Fessia, a member of the HIJOS human rights
organization, said of the space, This will now
be a place of life, after being a place of death.
Benjamin Dangl is currently based in Paraguay and
is the author of
Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements
in Bolivia" (AK Press). He edits
UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and
politics in Latin America, and TowardFreedom.com,
a progressive perspective on world events. Email: Bendangl(at)gmail(dot)com.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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