Sunday, March 25, 2007

Argentina Marks 31st Anniversary of Military Coup


By Marie Trigona - March 23, 2007

Argentina marks the 31st anniversary of the nation's 1976 military coup on Saturday March 24, with a series of marches to commemorate 30,000 disappeared during the so called dirty war. As the perpetrators face trial 31 years on, key witnesses are disappearing and terror is back on the streets.

In the face of threats and attacks, human rights groups hit the streets to demand an end to impunity for military personnel who served in the 1976-1983 dictatorship. The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo held their weekly Thursday vigil in the plaza where they have met for 30 years to demand information on the whereabouts of their children who were kidnapped and later murdered, but whose bodies have never been found.

Mercedes Meroño, whose daughter was disappeared in 1978 said that the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo have gathered the strength to fight from their children. “After 30 years of struggle in the plaza and 31 after the dictatorship, we defeated the dictators with a struggle that we never abandoned. Because we support the revolutionary struggle of our children. We continue to say that we were born out of our children’s fight, because before we didn’t know anything about this. For love we went out into the streets.”

Meroño, now 82 years old, says that the Mothers will continue to fight until ex-military leaders are convicted and put behind bars for human rights crimes "At 31 years since Argentina's worst military coup, what we want is peace, love and solidarity. And those of us who fight for those words are triumphant. The evil people, the murderers, those who threw young people alive into the sea, tortured and raped: all of them are hidden in their homes like cowards. We want for them to be put in jail just like any other murderer and to be placed in common jails."

Right across from the Plaza de Mayo yesterday, a delegation from the group: Space for Memory, Truth and Justice presented a report of over 200 cases of recent attacks and threats against human rights activists. Police barricades blocked the delegation two blocks from the Interior Ministry.

Carlos Leiva is an activist from an unemployed workers organization Frente Dario Santillan. Speaking at the Interior Ministry, Leiva describes his kidnapping that occurred earlier this month. “On Friday, March 2, I was on my way to a movement meeting. A car stopped in front of me and two people who came from behind forced me into the car. They took me to an abandoned warehouse. I was held there for 6 or 7 hours while they threatened me a lot and asked questions about our movement. The moment came when they had orders from a superior and they simulated shooting me.”

Leiva has identified his perpetrators as civil police who harassed him at a previous protest and says that authorities haven’t carried out an investigation since his kidnapping. "Every year the point is to go out and say we don't forget. During the dictatorship they disappeared an entire generation that thought, that could speak out. Today we are trying to fight for a better future in our organizations and the police are trying to fill organizations with fear. The clearest case is they disappeared Julio Lopez and he hasn’t turned up.

Julio Lopez went missing September 18, the eve of the landmark conviction of Miguel Etchecolatz, the first military officer to be tried for crimes against humanity and genocide.

Testifying before a court in La Plata, Lopez described the prolonged bouts of interrogation under Etchecolatz’s supervision. “I even thought that one day I find Etchecolatz I am going to kill him. And then I thought well, if I kill him I’ll just be killing a piece of garbage. A serial killer. He didn’t have compassion.”

Rights representatives have expressed immediate concerns over Lopez, a new name that has been inscribed on the roll call of Argentina's disappeared. On Saturday groups will hold two separate marches to the Plaza de Mayo.

1 comment:

Ché Bob said...

How high does this go? Kichner? From where is the repression emanating? Is it known?

Amazing persistence and courage by the Mothers!

Any new recuperated workplaces lately?

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