[News] Argentina Remembers the Military Coup

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Apr 21 11:48:12 EDT 2009

April 21, 2009

Mobilization Marks 33rd Anniversary of Military Coup

Argentina Remembers


The weekend that the hemisphere’s 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 
today’s 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 
Argentina’s 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 
<http://uprisingradio.org/home/?p=6629>when he 
said, “I don’t want to give the sense that 
they’re 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.

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