Sunday, March 24, 2013

Anniversary of the 1976 military coup in Argentina

Today is the 37th anniversary of the military coup of 1976 that installed a brutal and murderous military dictatorship that remained in power until 1983. Prosecutions of officials who committed crimes during that dictatorship, known as El Proceso from its preferred name for its project of purging democracy and democratic freedoms from Argentina forever. Forever last only seven years.

Here is a report from TV Pública argentina on the anniversary, featuring a brief presentation by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, A 37 años del golpe cívico militar 22.03.2013:

Here is a longer report of a the speech of Cristina's excerpted in the report above, Cristina inauguró nuevos Espacios de la Memoria (2 de 2) TV Pública argentina 22.03.2012:

She posted the following to her Facebook wall:

24 de marzo, un aniversario que no quisiéramos tener los argentinos, pero que tenemos la obligación de recordar. Un recuerdo que no es patrimonio de ningún sector político de la Argentina. Cuando se atenta contra la democracia, se atenta contra la forma de vida en que queremos vivir todos los argentinos. Entendamos que esta es una fecha de la democracia, que tanto costó recuperar y debemos asegurar: Lo que pasó no fue por casualidad. Si uno mira los índices que tenía el país de ocupación, calidad de vida, industrialización, desarrollo social al momento de producirse el golpe, y cómo terminamos en 1983 cuando llega la democracia, y luego lo que pasó en la segunda parte, cómo terminamos en el 2001... vemos que el mejor homenaje que se puede hacer a todos los que hoy no están, o los que están y sufrieron, es seguir logrando esta Argentina, una Argentina con mayor inclusión social, con mayor trabajo, de fábricas abiertas, de ciencia y tecnología.

El objetivo del golpe no sólo era un país sin industrias, un país donde manejara solamente el capital financiero, era además instalar en cada uno de los argentinos que no valía la pena ocuparse del otro, porque si te ocupabas del otro te podía pasar algo. El miedo. Y al miedo le siguió el egoísmo. El egoísmo es el hijo del miedo. Los que no tienen miedo son solidarios. Seguir luchando por más igualdad, por los que menos tienen, para estar siempre junto a ellos, ese es el mandato de los 30.000 desaparecidos.

Recuerdo palabras de él [Néstor Kirchner], 24/3/2004: “Hablemos claro: no es rencor ni odio lo que nos guía y me guía, es justicia y lucha contra la impunidad. Dejaremos todo para lograr un país más equitativo, con inclusión social, luchando contra la desocupación, la injusticia, y todo lo que nos dejó en su última etapa esta lamentable década del ’90 como epílogo de las cosas que nos tocaron vivir. Hermanas y hermanos, compañeros que están presentes por más que no estén aquí, Madres, Abuelas, chicos: gracias por el ejemplo de lucha. Defendamos con fe, con capacidad de amar, que no nos llenen el espíritu de odio porque no lo tenemos, pero tampoco queremos la impunidad. Queremos que haya justicia, queremos que realmente haya una recuperación fortísima de la memoria. Que en esta Argentina se vuelvan a recordar y tomar como ejemplo a aquellos que son capaces de dar todo por los valores que tienen. Una generación en la Argentina que fue capaz de hacer eso, ha dejado un sendero, su vida, sus madres, sus abuelas y sus hijos."
Página/12 reports on this message in CFK: "Esta es una fecha de la democracia que tanto costó recuperar y debemos asegurar" 24.03.2013. In it, she makes a moving statement about how the dictatorship's state terror functioned (quoted above in Spanish in a slightly different form; just after 18:30 in the last video; my translation from the video version):

... the objective of the coup was not only a country without industries, a country where only finance capital ran things; it was also to install in every one of the Argentines that it was not worth it to be concerned with others, because if you concerned yourself with other something could happen to you. Better to be concerned with yourself, and if your were concerned with yourself, nothing would happen to you. Fear. And after fear follows egoism. Egoism is the child of fear. Don't ever forget it. Only those who are afraid can be egoists. Those who are not afraid are those who practice solidarity.

She also says, "... we are going to fight for more equality, for more equality for those who have the leaset, for the poorest, to always be there together with them, this is the mandate of the 30,000 desaparecidos" i.e, the "disappeared", those kidnapped and murdered by the dictatorship.

She speaks from experience. She was a human rights attorney during the dictatorship who worked actively to help its victims. It surely one of the sources of tension between her and Jorge Bergoglio/Pope Francis I, who was anything but a profile in courage during the dictatorship, and probably actively collaborated in dishonorable ways.

I just read Emilio Mignone's 1986 book, Iglesia y dictadura: El papel de la iglesia a la luz de sus relaciones con el régimen militar (2006), which has figured in the news reports on Bergoglio's conduct in relationship to the dictatorship. Mignone's daughter Mónica was kidnapped by the dictatorship in 1976, taken from their home. Mignone and his wife Chela were never able to contact her. He died in 1998 without ever knowing for sure what happened to Mónica, or where her remains lay. Although he assumes that she was likely tortured and murdered, the usual fate of the desaparecidos.

This is how state terror works. Not only was she arrested but was held incommunicado, never given any kind of a public trial, her parents and other relatives and friends were never able to see her in prison, and never knew for sure what happened to her.

It's very common for Americans to hear something like this about another country and think how this shows the superiority of the United States and our political system to the benighted "Third World." But Americans are generally unaware of the nature of the United States long interaction with Latin America. St. Reagan approved of the Argentine junta, as Robert Perry reports in Did Reagan Know about Baby Thefts? Consortium News 07/06/2012:

Despite U.S. government awareness of the grisly actions of the Argentine junta, which had drawn public condemnation from the Carter administration in the 1970s, these Argentine neo-Nazis were warmly supported by Ronald Reagan, both as a political commentator in the late 1970s and as President once he took office in 1981.

When President Jimmy Carter’s human rights coordinator, Patricia Derian, berated the Argentine junta for its brutality, Reagan used his newspaper column to chide her, suggesting that Derian should "walk a mile in the moccasins" of the Argentine generals before criticizing them. [For details, see Martin Edwin Andersen's Dossier Secreto. {Perry's note}]

Reagan understood that the Argentine generals played a central role in the anti-communist crusade that was turning Latin America into a nightmare of unspeakable repression. The leaders of the Argentine junta saw themselves as something of pioneers in the techniques of torture and psychological operations, sharing their lessons with other regional dictatorships. ...

After becoming President in January 1981, Reagan entered into a covert alliance with the Argentine junta. He ordered the CIA to collaborate with Dirty War experts in training the [Nicaraguan] Contras, who were soon rampaging through towns in northern Nicaragua, raping women and dragging local officials into public squares for executions.
Perry's article contains other details about the domestic conduct of the Argentine junta.

The Reagan Presidential Library's website has the gall to implicitly credit St. Reagan with somehow restoring democracy in Argentina, a gag-inducing idea: "While President Reagan was in the White House, Free, democratic elections were held for the first time in many years in the Republic of Korea, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and the Philippines. By the time President Reagan left office, the number of people in Latin America living under freely elected governments tripled from what it had been ten years earlier." (my emphasis) (President Reagan's Foreign Policy: Making the World Over Again; n/d, accessed 03/24/2013)

Robert Perry also writes about St. Reagan and the Argentine junta in Ronald Reagan, Enabler of Atrocities Consortium News 02/06/2011. Ironically - or, more accurately, highly cynically - the "neoconservatives" who understand themselves as continuing the kind of policies Reagan practiced in Central America will treat even negotiating with countries with which they want to go to war (Iran, right now) as immoral connivance in whatever bad thing the regime may be doing at home.

Cristina's reference to the goal of the junta as "not only a country without industries, a country where only finance capital ran things" isn't just a rhetorical flourish. The junta, like its predecessor and contemporary in the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, set out to implement the "free market" policies that would favor American capital in particular, the policies most of the world knows as neoliberalism. But it didn't look much like a "free" free market to industrialists who were targeted by the junta for economic reasons. Investigations over the last year of the conduct of the junta office known as the Comisión Nacional de Valores (CNV, the National Commission of Values) has brought to public light information on junta kidnappings of businesspeople in 1978-9 especially, not for political reasons as such but in order to implement the neoliberal economic policies of Economics Minister José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz (1925-2013), who died just this month. Though some of the kidnapped businesspeople were accused of providing funds to guerrillas. Part of the motivation, though, may have been that they were running out of what they considered the most plausible political targets and the CNV still wanted to find subversives to fight. Something all countries should consider when building up massive internal security apparatuses, including the United States. They all need to justify their existence by showing some kind of results. And sometimes they just like exercising their power. (See Alejandra Dandan, La trama financiera de la última dictadura Página/12 24.03.2013)

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