Dirty War
Overview
 
The Dirty War was a period of state-sponsored violence
State terrorism
State terrorism may refer to acts of terrorism conducted by a state against a foreign state or people. It can also refer to acts of violence by a state against its own people.-Definition:...

 in Argentina from 1976 until 1983. Victims of the violence included several thousand left-wing activists, including trade unionists, students, journalists
Journalism
Journalism is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience in a timely fashion. Though there are many variations of journalism, the ideal is to inform the intended audience. Along with covering organizations and institutions such as government and...

, Marxists, Peronist
Peronism
Peronism , or Justicialism , is an Argentine political movement based on the programmes associated with former President Juan Perón and his second wife, Eva Perón...

 guerrillas and alleged sympathizers, either proved or suspected. Some 10,000 of the disappeared were guerrillas of the Montoneros
Montoneros
Montoneros was an Argentine Peronist urban guerrilla group, active during the 1960s and 1970s. The name is an allusion to 19th century Argentinian history. After Juan Perón's return from 18 years of exile and the 1973 Ezeiza massacre, which marked the definitive split between left and right-wing...

 (MPM), and the People's Revolutionary Army
People's Revolutionary Army (Argentina)
The Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo was the military branch of the communist Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores in Argentina...

 (ERP). Estimates for the number of people who were killed or "disappeared" range from 9,000 to 30,000; the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons estimates that around 13,000 disappeared.
Encyclopedia
The Dirty War was a period of state-sponsored violence
State terrorism
State terrorism may refer to acts of terrorism conducted by a state against a foreign state or people. It can also refer to acts of violence by a state against its own people.-Definition:...

 in Argentina from 1976 until 1983. Victims of the violence included several thousand left-wing activists, including trade unionists, students, journalists
Journalism
Journalism is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience in a timely fashion. Though there are many variations of journalism, the ideal is to inform the intended audience. Along with covering organizations and institutions such as government and...

, Marxists, Peronist
Peronism
Peronism , or Justicialism , is an Argentine political movement based on the programmes associated with former President Juan Perón and his second wife, Eva Perón...

 guerrillas and alleged sympathizers, either proved or suspected. Some 10,000 of the disappeared were guerrillas of the Montoneros
Montoneros
Montoneros was an Argentine Peronist urban guerrilla group, active during the 1960s and 1970s. The name is an allusion to 19th century Argentinian history. After Juan Perón's return from 18 years of exile and the 1973 Ezeiza massacre, which marked the definitive split between left and right-wing...

 (MPM), and the People's Revolutionary Army
People's Revolutionary Army (Argentina)
The Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo was the military branch of the communist Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores in Argentina...

 (ERP). Estimates for the number of people who were killed or "disappeared" range from 9,000 to 30,000; the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons estimates that around 13,000 disappeared. Some 11,000 Argentines have applied for and received up to US$200,000 as monetary compensation from the state for the loss of loved ones during the military dictatorship. The commander of the Montoneros, Mario Firmenich, in a radio interview in late 2000 from Spain later stated that "In a country that experienced a civil war, everybody has blood in their hands."

The exact chronology of the repression
Political repression
Political repression is the persecution of an individual or group for political reasons, particularly for the purpose of restricting or preventing their ability to take political life of society....

 is still debated, however, as trade unionists were targeted for assassination as early as 1973, and individual cases of state-sponsored violence against Peronism and the left can be traced back at least to the Bombing of Plaza de Mayo
Bombing of Plaza de Mayo
The bombing of Plaza de Mayo was a massacre which took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on June 16 1955.At 12:40 pm, a number of aircraft from the Argentine Navy and Air Force strafed and bombed Plaza de Mayo square in Buenos Aires, in what remains to this day the largest aerial bombing ever on...

 in 1955. The Trelew massacre
Trelew massacre
The Trelew Massacre was the retaliatory government killing of 16 militants of different Peronist and left organizations held as political prisoners in Rawson Penitentiary. The prisoners were recaptured after an escape attempt and subsequently shot down by marines led by Lieutenant Commander Luis...

 of 1972, the actions of the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance since 1973 and Isabel Martínez de Perón
Isabel Martínez de Perón
María Estela Martínez Cartas de Perón , better known as Isabel Martínez de Perón or Isabel Perón, is a former President of Argentina. She was also the third wife of another former President, Juan Perón...

's "annihilation decrees" against left-wing guerrillas during Operativo Independencia
Operativo Independencia
Operativo Independencia was the code-name of the Argentine military operation in the Tucumán Province, started in 1975, to crush the ERP , a Guevarist guerrilla group which attempted to secede part of Tucuman as an independent nation, in the north-west of Argentina...

in 1975, have all been suggested as dates for the beginning of the Dirty War. Prof. Patricia Marchak in her book God's Assassins: State Terrorism in Argentina in the 1970s, says the Dirty War has its real roots in the violence witnessed in Buenos Aires during the Tragic Week
Tragic Week (Argentina)
Tragic Week was a series of riots and massacres that took place in Buenos Aires, during the week of January 7, 1919. The riot was led by anarchists and communists, and was fought by both the police and the army...

 of 1919 and the fighting that took place in Patagonia
Patagonia
Patagonia is a region located in Argentina and Chile, integrating the southernmost section of the Andes mountains to the southwest towards the Pacific ocean and from the east of the cordillera to the valleys it follows south through Colorado River towards Carmen de Patagones in the Atlantic Ocean...

 in 1921 and 1922, between anarchist and elements of the Argentine Army popularly known today as the Patagonia rebelde
Patagonia rebelde
Patagonia rebelde was a violent suppression of a rural worker's strike in the Argentine province of Santa Cruz in Argentine Patagonia between 1921 and 1922. The uprising was put down by Colonel Héctor Benigno Varela's 10th Cavalry Regiment of the Argentine Army under the orders of Hipólito Yrigoyen...

.

Overview

In 1955, after two failed attempts earlier in the year and in 1951, a successful coup d'état against Juan Perón
Juan Perón
Juan Domingo Perón was an Argentine military officer, and politician. Perón was three times elected as President of Argentina though he only managed to serve one full term, after serving in several government positions, including the Secretary of Labor and the Vice Presidency...

's government took place, leading to the proscription of Peronism
Peronism
Peronism , or Justicialism , is an Argentine political movement based on the programmes associated with former President Juan Perón and his second wife, Eva Perón...

 by the armed forces. Peronist Resistance began organizing itself soon after the coup, in workplaces and trade unions. Over time, as democratic rule was partially restored but promises of legalizing the expression and political liberties for Peronism were not respected, guerrilla groups started to appear in the 1960s, namely the Peronist Uturuncos and the Guevarist
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

People's Guerrilla Army (EGP), although both relatively small and quickly defeated. Jorge Ricardo Masetti, leader of the EGP is considered by some as Argentina's first disappeared. Prior to 1973 the major revolutionary groups were the Peronist Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Peronistas, FAP), the Marxist-Leninist-Peronist The Revolutionary Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias or FAR) and the Marxist-Leninist Armed Forces of Liberation (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación or FAL). The FAL guerrillas made their mark in a raid at Campo de Mayo in April 1969 where they stole 100 assault rifles from the elite 1st Infantry Regiment "Patricios"

In time these armed groups were consolidated, with the FAR joining the Montoneros and the FAP and FAL being absorbed into the ERP. In 1970, one of the leaders of the 1955 coup, Pedro Eugenio Aramburu
Pedro Eugenio Aramburu
Pedro Eugenio Aramburu Silveti was an Argentine Army General. Born in Río Cuarto, Córdoba on May 21, 1903. He was a major figure behind the military coup against Juan Perón in 1955. He became de facto president of Argentina from November 13, 1955 to May 1, 1958...

 was kidnapped and killed by the Peronist guerilla Montoneros, in its first claimed military action. In 1970, the Marxist People's Revolutionary Army
People's Revolutionary Army (Argentina)
The Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo was the military branch of the communist Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores in Argentina...

 (ERP) was founded. By the early 1970s, high-ranking military and police officers were kidnapped and assassinated in ultra-leftist actions almost weekly. The extreme left was also involved in the bombing and destruction of a number of buildings in the 1970s. These mainly belonged to military and police hierarchies. But a number of civilian and non-governmental buildings were targeted as well, such as the Sheraton Hotel in Buenos Aires, which was bombed in 1972, to the horror of nearly 700 guests. and a crowded theater in downtown Buenos Aires in 1975.

In 1978, a powerful bomb meant to kill an Argentine admiral, ripped through a nine-story apartment building, killing three civilians and trapping others beneath the debris. According to the International Congress for Victims of Terrorism, there were 16,000 victims of left-wing terrorism (killings, woundings and abductions) in Argentina, including civilians and military personnel. Argentine intelligence officers claim that the ERP guerrillas alone were responsible for the deaths of at least 700 people in addition to scores of attacks on police and military units as well as kidnappings and robberies.

In 1973, as Juan Perón returned from exile, the Ezeiza massacre
1973 Ezeiza massacre
The Ezeiza massacre took place on June 20, 1973 near the Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Peronist masses, including many young people, had gathered there to acclaim Juan Perón's definitive return from an 18-year exile in Spain. The police counted three and a half million...

 marked the end of the alliance between left- and right-wing factions of Peronism
Peronism
Peronism , or Justicialism , is an Argentine political movement based on the programmes associated with former President Juan Perón and his second wife, Eva Perón...

. In 1974, Perón withdrew his support of Montoneros shortly before his death, and the far-right paramilitary death squad Argentine Anticommunist Alliance emerged during his widow's presidency. Armed struggle increased, and in 1975 Isabel Martínez de Perón signed a number of decrees empowering the military and the police to "annihilate" left-wing subversion, most prominently the People's Revolutionary Army (ERP) armed activity in the province of Tucumán. Martínez de Perón was ousted in 1976. Starting that year, the junta
Military dictatorship
A military dictatorship is a form of government where in the political power resides with the military. It is similar but not identical to a stratocracy, a state ruled directly by the military....

s led by Videla until 1981, and then by Roberto Viola
Roberto Eduardo Viola
Roberto Eduardo Viola Redondo was an Argentine military officer who briefly served as president of Argentina from March 29 to December 11, 1981 during a period of military rule.-President of Argentina:...

 and Leopoldo Galtieri, were responsible for the illegal arrests, tortures, killings and/or forced disappearances of thousands,
primarily armed combatants of the ERP and Montoneros guerrillas, but also trade-unionists, students and left-wing activists, even after they internally acknowledged that armed subversion. Videla's dictatorship referred to its systematized persecution of the Argentine citizenry as the "National Reorganization Process
National Reorganization Process
The National Reorganization Process was the name used by its leaders for the military government that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. In Argentina it is often known simply as la última junta militar or la última dictadura , because several of them existed throughout its history.The Argentine...

". Argentine security forces and death squads worked hand in hand with other South American dictatorships in the frame of Operation Condor
Operation Condor
Operation Condor , was a campaign of political repression involving assassination and intelligence operations officially implemented in 1975 by the right-wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone of South America...

.

The democratic government of Raúl Alfonsín
Raúl Alfonsín
Raúl Ricardo Alfonsín was an Argentine lawyer, politician and statesman, who served as the President of Argentina from December 10, 1983, to July 8, 1989. Alfonsín was the first democratically-elected president of Argentina following the military government known as the National Reorganization...

 which took office in 1983 investigated these crimes through the CONADEP commission, prosecuted the responsible parties and made the unprecedented (and only Latin American example) Trial of the Juntas. In 2006 an Argentine court condemned the 1970s government's crimes as crimes against humanity and "genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

". Although there is strong disagreement on the actual number of disappeared, it is commonly accepted today that between 9,000 and 30,000 people, depending on the source, had been killed or disappeared. Some 8,600 disappeared in the form of PEN (Poder Ejecutivo Nacional) detainees were eventually released under international pressure. Amnesty International reported in 1979 that 15,000 disappeared had been abducted, tortured and possibly killed. Documents found in 2006 show that by 1978 Chilean agents in Argentina were reporting that the Argentine military had 22,000 internally documented cases involving deaths and abductions.

In 1979, US President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 offered to accept 3,000 disappeared in the form of PEN detainees, as long as they had no terrorist background. According to the official count of the 1984 truth commission, between 1976 and 1979, 8,353 Argentinians were killed or "disappeared", and other 113 were killed or disappeared at the hands of the military regime between 1980 and 1983. The 1984 truth commission, however, counted only documented cases. Human Rights Groups in Argentina often cite a figure of 30,000 disappeared, Amnesty International estimates 20,000 while other observers think 12,000 is a more accurate figure. In 1988, the Asamblea por los Derechos Humanos (APDH or Assembly for Human Rights) published its findings on the disappearances and concluded that 12,261 people were killed or disappeared during the Dirty War.

Origin of the term

The term "Dirty War" originates in the military junta itself, which claimed that a war, albeit with "different" methods (including the large-scale application of torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

 and rape), was necessary to maintain social order and eradicate political subversives. This explanation has been questioned in court and by human rights NGOs, as it suggests that a "civil war" was going on, thereby implying justification for the killings. Thus, during the 1985 Trial of the Juntas, public prosecutor Julio Strassera suggested that the term "Dirty War" was a "euphemism to try to conceal gang activities" as though they were legitimate military activities.

Although the junta claimed its objective to be the eradication of guerrilla activity, the repression struck mostly the general population, and specifically all political opposition
Opposition (politics)
In politics, the opposition comprises one or more political parties or other organized groups that are opposed to the government , party or group in political control of a city, region, state or country...

, trade unionists (half of the victims), students, and other civilians. Many others were forced to go into exile, and many remain in exile today (despite the return of democracy in 1983). It was made clear during the Trial of the Juntas that the guerrillas, despite the use of the term "war", were not in a position to pose a real threat, and could not be considered a belligerent
Belligerent
A belligerent is an individual, group, country or other entity which acts in a hostile manner, such as engaging in combat. Belligerent comes from Latin, literally meaning "to wage war"...

: "The subversives had not taken control of any part of the national territory; they had not obtained recognition of interior or anterior belligerency, they were not massively supported by any foreign power, and they lacked the population's support."

Thus, it is posited that crimes committed during this time may not be covered under the laws of war
Laws of war
The law of war is a body of law concerning acceptable justifications to engage in war and the limits to acceptable wartime conduct...

(jus in bello), which shields soldiery of inferior rank from prosecution for acts committed under military or state orders. Paul H. Lewis, Professor of Political Science at Tulane University
Tulane University
Tulane University is a private, nonsectarian research university located in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States...

, who has written Guerrillas and Generals: The Dirty War in Argentina, is among those who claim otherwise. Terence Roehrig, who wrote The prosecution of former military leaders in newly democratic nations: The cases of Argentina, Greece, and South Korea (McFarland & Company, 2001) estimates that of the disappeared "at least 10,000 were involved in various ways with the guerrillas". The Montoneros would later admit having lost some 5,000 guerrillas, who were killed, and the Marxist-Leninist People's Revolutionary Army
People's Revolutionary Army (Argentina)
The Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo was the military branch of the communist Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores in Argentina...

 (Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo or ERP) admitted the loss of some 5,000 of their own armed fighters killed.

The program of extermination of dissidents was termed "genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

" by a court of law, for the first time in the official treatment of illegal crimes of the dictatorship, during the 2006 trial of Miguel Etchecolatz
Miguel Etchecolatz
Miguel Osvaldo Etchecolatz is a former senior Argentine police officer, who worked in the Buenos Aires Provincial Police during the first years of the military dictatorship. Etchecolatz was an active participant in the "anti-subversion operation" known as the National Reorganization Process...

, a former senior official of the Buenos Aires Provincial Police
Buenos Aires Provincial Police
The Buenos Aires Provincial Police is the police service responsible for policing the Province of Buenos Aires, in Argentina....

.

Return of Peronism

Ever since former army officer Juan Perón
Juan Perón
Juan Domingo Perón was an Argentine military officer, and politician. Perón was three times elected as President of Argentina though he only managed to serve one full term, after serving in several government positions, including the Secretary of Labor and the Vice Presidency...

 was ousted from the presidency
President of Argentina
The President of the Argentine Nation , usually known as the President of Argentina, is the head of state of Argentina. Under the national Constitution, the President is also the chief executive of the federal government and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.Through Argentine history, the...

 by a coup in 1955 (Revolución Libertadora
Revolución Libertadora
The Revolución Libertadora was a military uprising that ended the second presidential term of Juan Perón in Argentina, on September 16, 1955.-History:...

), military hostility to Peronism
Peronism
Peronism , or Justicialism , is an Argentine political movement based on the programmes associated with former President Juan Perón and his second wife, Eva Perón...

 had dominated Argentine politics. The 1963 Aramburu decree
Pedro Eugenio Aramburu
Pedro Eugenio Aramburu Silveti was an Argentine Army General. Born in Río Cuarto, Córdoba on May 21, 1903. He was a major figure behind the military coup against Juan Perón in 1955. He became de facto president of Argentina from November 13, 1955 to May 1, 1958...

 had gone as far as prohibiting the use of Perón's name, and when General Lanusse
Alejandro Agustín Lanusse
Alejandro Agustín Lanusse Gelly was the 38th president of the Argentine Republic between March 22, 1971 and May 25, 1973, during the penultimate military dictatorship.- Career :...

, who had seized power in 1971, called for elections in 1973 and authorized the return of political parties, Perón – who had been invited back from exile – was barred from seeking office. This led to the May 1973 election of Peronist Héctor José Cámpora
Héctor José Cámpora
Héctor José Cámpora Demaestre was president of Argentina from 25 May until 13 July 1973.Cámpora, affectionately known as el Tío , was born in the city of Mercedes, in the Province of Buenos Aires...

, a Peronist elected as Perón's "personal delegate", circumventing the law that forbade Perón's running for office. Peronism has been difficult to define according to traditional political classifications, and different periods must be distinguished. A populist
Populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

 and nationalist movement, it has sometimes been accused of Fascist tendencies; Perón's admiration for Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 is often cited in support of that assertion. Argentina became a popular country of exile for escaped Nazis who entered clandestinely after World War II via various ratlines
Ratlines (history)
Ratlines were a system of escape routes for Nazis and other fascists fleeing Europe at the end of World War II. These escape routes mainly led toward havens in South America, particularly Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, and Chile. Other destinations included the United States and perhaps...

.

The absence of Perón himself, who spent 20 years in exile in Franquist Spain, is central to understanding Peronism, as his name was often invoked nostalgically by Argentines in all walks of life in protest of societal ills. Eva Perón
Eva Perón
María Eva Duarte de Perón was the second wife of President Juan Perón and served as the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. She is often referred to as simply Eva Perón, or by the affectionate Spanish language diminutive Evita.She was born in the village of Los Toldos in...

, First Lady of Argentina from 1946 to her death in 1952, was warmly remembered by the working class, although she was despised by the "national bourgeoisie
Bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

". Thus, the left-wing and Catholic Montoneros supported Perón, as did the Fascist-leaning and strongly anti-Semitic Movimiento Nacionalista Tacuara, one of Argentina's first guerrilla movements.

Following nearly two decades of weak civilian governments, economic decline, and military interventionism, Perón returned from exile on 20 June 1973 as the country was becoming engulfed in immense financial, social and political disorder. The months preceding his return were marked by important social movement
Social movement
Social movements are a type of group action. They are large informal groupings of individuals or organizations focused on specific political or social issues, in other words, on carrying out, resisting or undoing a social change....

s, as in the rest of South America, and in particular of the Southern Cone
Southern Cone
Southern Cone is a geographic region composed of the southernmost areas of South America, south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Although geographically this includes part of Southern and Southeast of Brazil, in terms of political geography the Southern cone has traditionally comprised Argentina,...

 before the military intervention of the 1970s. Thus, during Héctor Cámpora's first months of government (May–July 1973), approximately 600 social conflicts, strikes and factory occupations had taken place. Immediately after the swearing in of President Cámpora on 25 May 1973, the Peronist Youth converged on the main prison, forcing the release and pardoning of 400 captured guerrilla fighters. The next day congress approved an amnesty for the revolutionary groups, repealed anti-terrorist legislation, and abolished the Federal Criminal Court of the Nation. From the perspective of the military, Campora's decree had demonstrated the police actions to be insufficient in combating terrorist or guerrilla actions. Paul H. Lewis, Professor of Political Science at Tulane University
Tulane University
Tulane University is a private, nonsectarian research university located in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States...

 opines: "Now it became clear to many officers that, if the anti-guerrilla war were ever resumed in the future, it would be better to kill captured terrorists outright than to see them released by sympathetic civilians to fight again."

On the economic side of his politics, Time Magazine (14 January 1974) estimated that 60% of foreign businessmen fled Argentina in 1973, prompted by the kidnapping of 170 businessmen that year. On several occasions, business executives involved in industrial disputes with militant workers, learned their homes had been burned down by the Montoneros. On 6 September 1973 the ERP "Compañía Ramón Rosa Jiménez" attacked the Army Medical Command in Buenos Aires, killing Lieutenant-Colonel Jorge Duarte Hardoy but lost several fighters killed or captured in that operation.

Upon Perón's arrival at Buenos Aires Airport, snipers (including members of the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance, or Triple A) opened fire on the crowds of left-wing Peronist sympathizers. Known as the Ezeiza massacre
1973 Ezeiza massacre
The Ezeiza massacre took place on June 20, 1973 near the Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Peronist masses, including many young people, had gathered there to acclaim Juan Perón's definitive return from an 18-year exile in Spain. The police counted three and a half million...

, this event marked the split between left-wing and right-wing factions of Peronism. Perón was re-elected in 1973, backed by a broad coalition that ranged from trade unionists in the center to fascists on the right (including members of the neofascist Movimiento Nacionalista Tacuara) and socialists like the Montoneros led by Mario Firmenich on the left. Following the Ezeiza massacre, and Perón's denouncing of "bearded immature idealists", Perón sided with the Peronist right-wing, the trade-unionist bureaucracy and Radical Civic Union
Radical Civic Union
The Radical Civic Union is a political party in Argentina. The party's positions on issues range from liberal to social democratic. The UCR is a member of the Socialist International. Founded in 1891 by radical liberals, it is the oldest political party active in Argentina...

 of Ricardo Balbín
Ricardo Balbín
Ricardo Balbín was an Argentine lawyer and politician, and one of the most important figures of the centrist Radical Civic Union , for which he was the presidential nominee four times: in 1951, 1958, and twice in 1973....

, Cámpora's unsuccessful rival at the May 1973 elections. Some leftist Peronist governors were deposed, among them Ricardo Obregón Cano
Ricardo Obregón Cano
Ricardo Obregón Cano was an Argentine Justicialist Party politician. Born in Río Cuarto, Córdoba, he was Governor of Córdoba from May 25, 1973 to February 28, 1974...

, governor of Córdoba, who was ousted by a police coup in February 1974. According to historian Servetto, "the Peronist right... thus stimulated the intervention of security forces to resolve internal conflicts of Peronism."

The Montoneros were finally expelled from the Justicialist Party
Justicialist Party
The Justicialist Party , or PJ, is a Peronist political party in Argentina, and the largest component of the Peronist movement.The party was led by Néstor Kirchner, President of Argentina from 2003 to 2007, until his death on October 27, 2010. The current Argentine president, Cristina Fernández de...

 by Perón in May 1974. However, the Montoneros waited until after the death of Perón in July 1974 to react, with the exception of the assassination of José Ignacio Rucci
José Ignacio Rucci
José Ignacio Rucci was an Argentine politician and union leader, appointed general secretary of the CGT in 1970...

, the right-wing Peronist Secretary General of the General Confederation of Labour
General Confederation of Labour (Argentina)
The General Confederation of Labour of the Argentine Republic is a national trade union centre of Argentina founded on September 27, 1930, as the result of the merge of the USA and the COA trade union centres...

 (CGT) on 25 September 1973, and some other military actions. They would then claim the "social revolutionary vision of authentic Peronism" and start guerrilla operations against Isabel Perón's government, who represented the Peronist right wing. A main aim of the Montoneros was to push authorities into repression, even severe repression, in the belief that in the end it would prove self defeating.

Isabel Perón's government

Perón died on 1 July 1974, and was replaced by his vice-president and third wife, Isabel Perón
Isabel Martínez de Perón
María Estela Martínez Cartas de Perón , better known as Isabel Martínez de Perón or Isabel Perón, is a former President of Argentina. She was also the third wife of another former President, Juan Perón...

, who ruled Argentina until overthrown in March 1976 by the military. The 1985 CONADEP human rights commission counted 458 assassinations from 1973 to 1975 in its report Nunca Más (Never Again): 19 in 1973, 50 in 1974 and 359 in 1975, carried out by paramilitary groups, who acted mostly under the José López Rega
José López Rega
José López Rega was Argentina's Minister of Social Welfare during the Peronist government started in 1973 by Juan Perón and continued after Perón's death in 1974 by his third wife and vice-president, Isabel Martínez de Perón , until the coup d'etat of 1976 that initiated the so-called National...

's Triple A death squad (according to Argenpress, at least 25 trade-unionists were assassinated in 1974).

The Triple A had been created by José López Rega and Rodolfo Almirón
Rodolfo Almirón
Rodolfo Almirón Sena was a former Argentine police officer and a leader of an extreme right-wing death squad known as the Triple A, operating in Argentina during the mid-1970s...

 (arrested in Spain in 2006; extradited to Argentina in 2008). López Rega was successively Minister of Social Welfare under Héctor José Cámpora
Héctor José Cámpora
Héctor José Cámpora Demaestre was president of Argentina from 25 May until 13 July 1973.Cámpora, affectionately known as el Tío , was born in the city of Mercedes, in the Province of Buenos Aires...

, Raúl Alberto Lastiri
Raúl Alberto Lastiri
Raúl Alberto Lastiri was an Argentine politician who was interim president of Argentina from July 13, 1973 until October 12, 1973. Lastiri, who presided over the Argentine Chamber of Deputies, was promoted to the presidency of the country after Héctor Cámpora and Vicente Solano Lima resigned...

, Perón and Isabel Perón and private secretary of the last two. Furthermore, after the 1980 police arrest of Licio Gelli
Licio Gelli
Licio Gelli is an Italian financier, chiefly known for his role in the Banco Ambrosiano scandal. He was revealed in 1981 as being the Venerable Master of the clandestine Masonic lodge Propaganda Due...

, head of Propaganda Due
Propaganda Due
Propaganda Due , or P2, was a Masonic lodge operating under the jurisdiction of the Grand Orient of Italy from 1945 to 1976 , and a pseudo-Masonic or "black" or "covert" lodge operating illegally from 1976 to...

 (aka P2), which was involved in Italy's strategy of tension
Strategy of tension
The strategy of tension is a theory that describes how to divide, manipulate, and control public opinion using fear, propaganda, disinformation, psychological warfare, agents provocateurs, and false flag terrorist actions....

, in a villa in the French Côte d'Azur, it was discovered that Isabel Perón's Minister for Social Affairs, López Rega, had also been a member of this lodge.

One of the first terror attacks of the Triple A targeted Hipólito Solari Yrigoyen with a car bomb
Car bomb
A car bomb, or truck bomb also known as a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device , is an improvised explosive device placed in a car or other vehicle and then detonated. It is commonly used as a weapon of assassination, terrorism, or guerrilla warfare, to kill the occupants of the vehicle,...

 on 21 November 1973, which seriously injured him. A few days earlier, Solari Yrigoyen had criticized in the Senate
Argentine Senate
The Argentine Senate is the upper house of the Argentine National Congress. It has 72 senators: three for each province and three for the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires...

 the reform of laws concerning workers' trade-unions, which aimed at tightening the control of the trade-union bureaucracy
Bureaucracy
A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a governmental or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution, and are occasionally characterized by officialism and red tape.-Weberian bureaucracy:...

 on the workers' movement. A few days before the bombing, a leading representative of the trade-unionist bureaucracy, Lorenzo Miguel
Lorenzo Miguel
Lorenzo Miguel was a prominent Argentine labor leader closely associated with the steelworkers' union.-Early life and his rise in the UOM:...

, had qualified Solari Yrigoyen as "public enemy number one". The Triple A assassinated Silvio Frondizi
Silvio Frondizi
Silvio Frondizi was an Argentine intellectual and lawyer, brother of President Arturo Frondizi and of the philosopher Risieri Frondizi....

, brother of former president Arturo Frondizi
Arturo Frondizi
Arturo Frondizi Ercoli was the President of Argentina between May 1, 1958, and March 29, 1962, for the Intransigent Radical Civic Union.-Early life:Frondizi was born in Paso de los Libres, Corrientes Province...

, in September 1974.

However, the repression of the social movements had already started before the attempt on Yrigoyen's life: on 17 July 1973, the CGT
General Confederation of Labour (Argentina)
The General Confederation of Labour of the Argentine Republic is a national trade union centre of Argentina founded on September 27, 1930, as the result of the merge of the USA and the COA trade union centres...

 section in Salta
Salta
Salta is a city in northwestern Argentina and the capital city of the Salta Province. Along with its metropolitan area, it has a population of 464,678 inhabitants as of the , making it Argentina's eighth largest city.-Overview:...

 was closed, while the CGT, SMATA and Luz y Fuerza in Córdoba were victims of armed attacks. Agustín Tosco, Secretary General of Luz y Fuerza, successfully avoided arrest, and went into hiding until his death on 5 November 1975.

Trade-unionists were also targeted by the repression in 1973: Carlos Bache was assassinated on 21 August 1973; Enrique Damiano, of the Taxis Trade-Union of Córdoba, on 3 October; Juan Avila, also of Córdoba, the following day; Pablo Fredes, on 30 October in Buenos Aires; Adrián Sánchez, on 8 November 1973 in the Province of Jujuy. Assassinations of trade-unionists, lawyers, etc. continued and increased in 1974 and 1975, while the most combative trade-unions were closed and their leaders arrested. In August 1974, Isabel Perón's government took away the rights of trade-unionist representation of the Federación Gráfica Bonaerense, whose Secretary General Raimundo Ongaro
Raimundo Ongaro
Raimundo Ongaro is a prominent Argentine labor leader.-Early career and rise to prominence:Raimundo José Ongaro was born to a middle-class family of Italian Argentines from the Lombardy region, in the Argentine seashore city of Mar del Plata in 1924...

 was arrested in October 1974.

During the same month of August 1974, the SMATA Córdoba trade-union, in conflict with the company Ika Renault, was closed by the national direction of trade-unions, and the majority of its leaders and activists arrested. Most of them, including its Secretary General René Salamanca, were assassinated during the 1976–83 dictatorship. Atilio López, General Secretary of the CGT of Córdoba and former Vice-Governor of the Province, was assassinated in Buenos Aires on 16 September 1974.

Between 16 and 17 September 1974, about 100 Montoneros bombs exploded throughout Argentina, against ceremonies commemorating the military revolt which ended Juan Perón's first term as president, and foreign companies. Targets in the bombings included three Ford showrooms; Peugeot and IKA-Renault showrooms; Goodyear and Firestone tire distributors, Riker and Eli pharmaceutical laboratories, Union carbide Battery Company, Bank of Boston and Chase Manhattan Bank branches, Xerox Corporation; and Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola bottling companies. In all, 83 servicemen and policemen were killed in terrorist incidents, between 1973 and 1974.

The ERP publicly remained in the forefront. ERP guerrilla activity took the form of attacks on military outposts, police stations and convoys. In 1971, 57 policemen were killed, and in 1972 another 38 policemen were gunned down. On 19 January 1974 60–70 ERP guerrillas travelling aboard captured army trucks attacked the 2,000-strong barracks at Azul, killing the Commanding Officer of the 10th 'Húsares de Pueyrredon' Armoured Cavalry Regiment, Colonel Camilo Arturo Gay and his wife, as well as capturing the Commanding Officer of the 1st Artillery Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Jorge Roberto Ibarzabal. The guerrillas, dressed as soldiers, held the barracks for seven hours. In another case, the famous ERP "Compañía Ramón Rosa Jiménez" – about 300 serving members between 1974–76 and a first class unit – struck the 17th Airborne Infantry Regiment in Catamarca and the Argentine Army's Villa Maria explosives factory in Córdoba. The attack involved some 90 guerrillas of the "Compañía Ramón Rosa Jiménez" and supporting militants who on 10 August, with the guerrillas dressed in Army fatigues attempted to simultaneously raid the factory and parachute unit. In the aftermath, 8 police and army paratroopers were killed or wounded and several ERP guerrillas were executed after having been captured for wearing army uniforms. In 10 years of guerrilla operations (1969–79) there were 1,501 killings, 1.748 kidnappings, 5,215 bombings and 45 major attacks on military units blamed on leftist guerrillas.

"Annihilation decrees"

Meanwhile, the Guevarist People's Revolutionary Army
People's Revolutionary Army (Argentina)
The Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo was the military branch of the communist Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores in Argentina...

 (ERP), led by Roberto Santucho and inspired by Che Guevara
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

's foco theory, began a rural insurgency in the province of Tucumán
Tucumán Province
Tucumán is the most densely populated, and the smallest by land area, of the provinces of Argentina. Located in the northwest of the country, the capital is San Miguel de Tucumán, often shortened to Tucumán. Neighboring provinces are, clockwise from the north: Salta, Santiago del Estero and...

, in the mountainous northwest of Argentina. It started the campaign with no more than 100 men and women of the Marxist ERP guerrilla force and ended with about 300 in the mountains (including reinforcements in the form of the elite Montoneros 65-strong Jungle Company and the ERP's "Decididos de Córdoba" Urban Company), which the Argentinian Army managed to defeat, but at a cost. On 5 January 1975, an Army DHC-6 transport plane was downed near the Monteros mountains, apparently shot down by Guerrillas. All thirteen on board were killed. The military believe a heavy machine gun had downed the aircraft. In response, Ítalo Luder, President of the National Assembly who acted as interim President substituting himself to Isabel Perón who was ill for a short period, signed in February 1975 the secret presidential decree 261, which ordered the army to neutralize and/or annihilate the insurgency in Tucumán, the smallest province of Argentina. Operativo Independencia gave power to the Armed Forces to "execute all military operations necessary for the effects of neutralizing or annihilating the action of subversive elements acting in the Province of Tucumán." Santucho had declared a 620 miles (997.8 km) "liberated zone" in Tucuman and demanded Soviet-backed protection for its borders as well as proper treatment of captured guerrillas as POWs.

The Argentinian Army Fifth Brigade, then consisting of the 19th, 20th and 29th Mountain Infantry Regiments and commanded by Brigadier-General Acdel Vilas received the order to move to Famailla in the foothills of the Monteros mountains on 8 February 1975. While fighting the guerrillas in the jungle, Vilas concentrated on uprooting the ERP support network in the towns, using tactics later adopted nation-wide, as well as a civic action campaign. The Argentine security forces used techniques no different from their US and French counterparts in Vietnam. By July 1975, anti-guerrilla commandos were mounting search-and-destroy missions in the mountains. Army special forces discovered Santucho's base camp in August, then raided the ERP urban headquarters in September. Most of the Compania del Monte's general staff was killed in October and was dispersed by the end of the year.

While the leadership of the movement was mostly eradicated, many of the ERP soldiers and sympathizers were taken into custody as political prisoners. Efforts to restrain the rural guerrilla activity to Tucumán, however, remained unsuccessful despite the use of 24 recently arrived US-made Bell UH-1H Huey troop-transport helicopters. In early October, the 5th Brigade suffered a major blow at the hands of the Montoneros, when more than one hundred, and possibly several hundred
Montoneros and supporters were involved in the most elaborate operation of the "Dirty War", which involved hijacking of a civilian airliner taking over the provincial airport, attacking the 29th Infantry Regiment which had retired to barracks at Formosa province
Formosa Province
Formosa Province is in northeastern Argentina, part of the Gran Chaco Region. Its northeast end touches Asunción, Paraguay, and borders the provinces of Chaco and Salta to its south and west, respectively...

 and capturing its cache of arms, and finally escaping by air. Once the operation was over, they escaped towards a remote area in Santa Fe province
Santa Fe Province
The Invincible Province of Santa Fe, in Spanish Provincia Invencible de Santa Fe , is a province of Argentina, located in the center-east of the country. Neighboring provinces are from the north clockwise Chaco , Corrientes, Entre Ríos, Buenos Aires, Córdoba, and Santiago del Estero...

. The aircraft, a Boeing 737
Boeing 737
The Boeing 737 is a short- to medium-range, twin-engine narrow-body jet airliner. Originally developed as a shorter, lower-cost twin-engine airliner derived from Boeing's 707 and 727, the 737 has developed into a family of nine passenger models with a capacity of 85 to 215 passengers...

, eventually landed on a crop field not far from the city of Rafaela. In the aftermath, 12 soldiers and 2 policemenwere killed and several wounded. The sophistication of the operation, and the getaway cars and safehouses they used to escape from the crash-landing site, suggest several hundred guerrillas and their supporters were involved. The Argentine security forces admitted to 43 army troops killed in action in Tucuman, although this figure does not take into account police and Gendarmerie troops, and the soldiers who died defending their barracks in Formosa province on 5 October 1975. By December 1975 the Argentine military could, with some justification claim that it was winning the 'Dirty War', but it was dismayed to find no evidence of overall victory. On 23 December 1975, several hundred ERP fighters with the help of hundreds of underground supporters, staged an all-out battle with the 601st Arsenal Battalion nine miles (14 km) from Buenos Aires and occupied four local police stations and a regimental headquarters.63 guerrillas,seven army troops and three policemen were killed.In addition 20 civilians were killed in the crossfire. Many of the civilian deaths occurred when the guerrillas and supporting militants burned city buses near the arsenal to hamper military reinforcements. This development was to have far-reaching ramifications. On 30 December 1975, urban guerrillas exploded a bomb inside the Army's headquarters in Buenos Aires, injuring at least six soldiers.

The Montoneros movement successfully utilized divers in underwater infiltrations and blew the pier where the Argentine destroyer ARA Santísima Trinidad was being built, on 22 August 1975. The ship was effectively immobilized for several years.
By mid-1975, the country was a stage for widespread violence. Extreme right-wing death squads used their hunt for far-left guerrilla
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

s as a pretext to exterminate any and all ideological opponents on the left and as a cover for common crimes. Assassinations and kidnappings by the Peronist Montoneros and the ERP contributed to the general climate of fear. In July, there was a general strike
General strike
A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of the labour force in a city, region, or country. While a general strike can be for political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants...

. On 6 July 1975, the government, presided temporarily by Italo Luder from the Peronist party, issued three decrees to combat the guerrillas. The decrees 2770, 2771 and 2772 created a Defense Council headed by the president and including his ministers and the chiefs of the armed forces. It was given the command of the national and provincial police and correctional facilities and its mission was to "annihilate … subversive elements throughout the country". Military control was thus generalized to all of the country. These "annihilation decrees" are the source of the charges against her which led to Isabel Perón's arrest in Madrid more than thirty years later, in January 2007. The country was then divided into five military zones through a 28 October 1975 military directive of "Struggle Against Subversion". As had been done during the 1957 Battle of Algiers
Battle of Algiers
Battle of Algiers or Algiers expedition may refer to:* The Siege of Algiers by Spain leading to the establishment of the Peñón of Algiers* The Capture of Algiers by Aruj Barbarossa* The Capture of Algiers by Hayreddin Barbarossa...

 (quadrillage), each zone was divided in subzones and areas, with its corresponding military authorities. General Antonio Domingo Bussi
Antonio Domingo Bussi
Antonio Domingo Bussi was an Army General and politician prominent in the recent history of Tucumán Province, Argentina.-Early career:...

 replaced Vilas in December 1975.

Raid in Santa Fe

Isabel Perón's government ordered a raid on 20 March 1975, which involved 4,000 military and police officers, in Villa Constitución, Santa Fe
Santa Fe, Argentina
Santa Fe is the capital city of province of Santa Fe, Argentina. It sits in northeastern Argentina, near the junction of the Paraná and Salado rivers. It lies opposite the city of Paraná, to which it is linked by the Hernandarias Subfluvial Tunnel. The city is also connected by canal with the...

, in response to various trade-unionist conflicts. Many citizens and 150 activists and trade-unionists leaders were arrested, while the Unión Obrera Metalúrgica's subsidiary in Villa Constitución was closed down with the agreement of the trade-unions' national direction, headed by Lorenzo Miguel. Repression affected trade-unionists of large firms, such as Ford, Fiat
Fiat
FIAT, an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino , is an Italian automobile manufacturer, engine manufacturer, financial, and industrial group based in Turin in the Italian region of Piedmont. Fiat was founded in 1899 by a group of investors including Giovanni Agnelli...

, Renault
Renault
Renault S.A. is a French automaker producing cars, vans, and in the past, autorail vehicles, trucks, tractors, vans and also buses/coaches. Its alliance with Nissan makes it the world's third largest automaker...

, Mercedes Benz, Peugeot
Peugeot
Peugeot is a major French car brand, part of PSA Peugeot Citroën, the second largest carmaker based in Europe.The family business that precedes the current Peugeot company was founded in 1810, and manufactured coffee mills and bicycles. On 20 November 1858, Emile Peugeot applied for the lion...

, Chrysler
Chrysler
Chrysler Group LLC is a multinational automaker headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA. Chrysler was first organized as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925....

 etc., and was sometimes carried on with support from the firm's executives and from the trade-unionist bureaucracy.

Left-wing militancy in the automotive industry

In November 1971, in solidarity with militant car workers, Montoneros guerrillas took over a car manufacturing plant in Caseros, sprayed 38 Fiats with petrol, and then set them alight.
Dr. Oberdan Sallustro
Oberdan Sallustro
Oberdan Sallustro was an entrepreneur, Director General of FIAT Concord in Argentina. He was kidnapped and killed in 1972 by the Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo guerrilla group, according to newspaper reports.-Biography:Oberdan Sallustro had been kidnapped on March 21, 1972, by a six-man,...

, director-general of the Fiat Concord company in Argentina–which manufactured cars, rolling stock and power generators under licence from Fiat of Italy, the parent company–and an Italian citizen, was kidnapped by ERP guerrillas in Buenos Aires on 21 March 1972 and found murdered on 10 April 1972, after having been held in a "people's prison" in a working-class suburb of the city. On 2 December 1972, the bodyguards of a Chrysler Corporation executive were attacked by militants, two were killed and another wounded.

On 21 May 1973, Luis Giovanelli, a Ford Motor Company executive, was killed and a female employee was wounded when machine-gunned by the ERP guerrillas in a kidnapping attempt that netted them from Ford $1 million as "protection money". On 25 May 1973, ERP guerrillas attempted to kill two Ford Motor Company executives but only wounded them. On 3 June 1973, militants in Buenos Aires kidnapped Jose Chohelo, a Peugeot representative and later released him for a reported US$200,000.

On 22 November 1973, FAP guerrillas ambushed and killed John Swint, the American general manager of a Ford Motor Company subsidiary and three of his bodyguards. On 29 December 1973, the director of Peugeot in Argentina was kidnapped by seven armed militants. Between 24–26 June 1974, seventeen bombs of the militants exploded in Buenos Aires, damaging offices, warehouses, showrooms including Ford, General Motors and Fiat dealerships, according to the Bangor Daily News.

On 27 August 1974, FAP guerrillas killed Ricardo Goya, labor relations manager of the IKA-Renault Motor Company in Córdoba while he was driving to work. On 8 January 1975, Rodolfo Saurnier, manager of an auto parts factory, was kidnapped by Montoneros. On 28 July 1975, a bomb of the urban militants exploded at the Peugeot dealership in La Plata. On 9 October 1975 several Molotov cocktails were thrown by militants at Car dealerships in Mendoza. On 24 October 1975, Heinrich Franz Metz, production manager of the Mercedes-Benz truck plant in Buenos Aires, was kidnapped by Montoneros guerrillas.

On 29 October 1975, four Montoneros killed the Fiat-Concord personnel manager. On 16 November 1975, militants broke into the home of a Renault executive in Córdoba and took him hostage. On 26 March 1976, two security guards of a Ford executive were killed by militants firing from a car. On 14 April 1976, militants in Buenos Aires kill an executive of the U.S. Chrysler Corporation. On 4 May 1976, militants assassinated a Fiat executive in a suburb of Buenos Aires.

The director of Renault Argentina was badly wounded by plastic explosives concealed in a box of flowers on 27 August 1976. On 10 September 1976 a Chrysler executive was killed by militants while leaving his home in Buenos Aires. On 8 October 1976, the Buenos Aires offices of Fiat, Mercedez Benz and Chevrolet were attacked by militants with bombs. On 10 October 1976, Domingo Lozano, Argentine manager of the Renault plant in Córdoba, was shot and killed by Montoneros guerrillas after leaving church service in Córdoba. On 18 October 1976, five guerrillas killed Enrique Aroza Garay, an executive of the German-owned Borgward automobile factory. On 3 November 1976, a Chrysler executive, Carlos Roberto Souto, was killed in Buenos Aires by Montoneros. Later the same month, the Montoneros kidnapped Franz Metz, the industrial director of Mercedez Benz in Argentina, but released him five weeks later when the German company agreed to pay a ransom, reportedly $5 million. On 13 October 1977, a Montoneros car bomb detonated outside the home of a Chrysler executive. The businessman was not there, but his guard and a neighbor were killed. On 16 December 1977, Montoneros killed Andre Gasparoux, a top French executive of Peugeot Motor Company.

Military's rise to power

By the end of 1975, a total of 137 military regulars and national servicemen and police had been killed that year by left wing terrorism.US journalist Paul Hoeffel in an article written for the Boston Globe concluded that, "Although there is widespread reluctance to use the term, it is now impossible to ignore the fact that civil war has broken out in Argentina."

During the month of August 1975, the Argentine city of Córdoba
witnessed a number of armed actions on the part of the left-wing guerrillas that resulted in the death of at least 5 policemen and units of the elite 4th Airborne Infantry Brigade were obliged to be called in to stand guard at strategic points around the city after the bombing of police headquarters and the police radio communications centre.Conservatives
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

, including some among the wealthy elite, encouraged the army, which prepared to take control by making lists of people who should be "dealt with" after the planned coup. In 1975, President Isabel Perón
Isabel Martínez de Perón
María Estela Martínez Cartas de Perón , better known as Isabel Martínez de Perón or Isabel Perón, is a former President of Argentina. She was also the third wife of another former President, Juan Perón...

, under pressure from the military establishment, appointed Jorge Rafael Videla commander-in-chief of the Argentine Army. "As many people as necessary must die in Argentina so that the country will again be secure", Videla declared in 1975 in support of the death squads. He was one of the military heads of the coup d'état that overthrew Isabel Perón on 24 March 1976. In her place, a military junta was installed, which was headed by Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera
Emilio Eduardo Massera
Emilio Eduardo Massera was an Argentine military officer, and a leading participant in the Argentine coup d'état of 1976. In 1981, he was found to be a member of P2...

, who stepped out in September 1978, General Orlando Agosti and Videla himself. On 2 February 1976 about fifty Montoneros attacked the Juan Vucetich Police Academy in Buenos Aires in an attempt to capture the helicopter-gunships there, but were repelled in heavy fighting. In the week preceding the military coup, the Montoneros killed 13 policemen as part of its Third National Military Campaign. During 1976, Videla himself narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in which a time bomb planted in the reviewing stand at the vast Campo de Mayo barracks blew out a metre-wide hole at the exact spot where he had been standing.

The junta, which dubbed itself "National Reorganization Process", systematized the repression, in particular through the way of "forced disappearances" (desaparecidos), which made it very difficult, as in Augusto Pinochet
Augusto Pinochet
Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte, more commonly known as Augusto Pinochet , was a Chilean army general and dictator who assumed power in a coup d'état on 11 September 1973...

's Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

, to dismiss legal suits as the bodies were never found. The Generals organized a nation-wide system, from national scale to local scale, to track down so-called "subversives". Argentine newspaper La Opinión
La Opinión (Argentina)
La Opinión was an Argentine newspaper, founded by the journalist Jacobo Timerman in 1971. Its ideology was broadly centrist, inspired partly by the Paris daily Le Monde.-Development:...

founded by Jacobo Timerman
Jacobo Timerman
Jacobo Timerman was an Argentine publisher, journalist, and author who was persecuted and honored for confronting the atrocities of the Argentine military regime's Dirty War...

, who would himself later disappear, wrote on 31 December 1976 that the Argentine "guerrillas" had suffered losses of 4000, and that the Montoneros had lost 80% of their leaders. The Buenos Aires Herald
Buenos Aires Herald
The Buenos Aires Herald is an English language daily newspaper from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Their slogan is A World of Information in a few words.-History:...

estimated the victims in 1976 to be 1,100 dead. A clandestine newspaper added that "there is one dead each five hours, and one bomb each three hours." According to Argentine journalist Stella Calloni, author of the classic Los años del lobo, all of these numbers may be correct. In all, 293 servicemen and policemen were killed in left wing terrorist incidents between 1975 and 1976.

This generalization of state terror tactics has been explained in part by the information received by the Argentine militaries in the infamous School of Americas and also by French instructors from the secret services, who taught them "counter-insurgency
Counter-insurgency
A counter-insurgency or counterinsurgency involves actions taken by the recognized government of a nation to contain or quell an insurgency taken up against it...

" tactics first experimented during the Algerian War (1954–62).

In 1976 there was a successful series of Montoneros bomb attacks in which the general commanding the Federal Police, Cesáreo Cardozo was killed. Lieutenant-General Jorge Videla narrowly escaped three Montoneros assassination attempts between February 1976 and April 1977. The Montoneros conducted an assassination attempt against Navy Commandant Admiral Emilio Massera.

In an underwater mining attack on the Itati yacht of the Argentine Navy, the luxury craft was badly damaged by the explosives but Massera escaped unscathed. As pressure mounted on the Montoneros, the urban guerrillas struck back. On 2 July 1976 a Claymore shrapnel mine exploded at the headquarters of the Federal Police in west Buenos Aires during a secret meeting of the police leadership, killing 21, and injuring 60 others. On 12 September 1976, a car bomb destroyed a bus filled with police officers in Rosario, killing 9 policemen and 2 civiliansand injuring at least 50.

On 29 September 1976 fierce fighting took place in the Floresta suburb of Buenos Aires, where one-hundred soldiers and policemen were forced to use bazookas and armoured cars against heavily armed guerrillas. On 17 October a bomb blast in an Army Club Cinema in downtown Buenos Aires killed 11 and wounded about 50 officers and their families. On 15 December, another bomb planted in a Defense Ministry movie hall killed at least 14 and injured 30 officers and their families. On the one-year anniversary of launching a coup to oust President Isabel Perón
Isabel Martínez de Perón
María Estela Martínez Cartas de Perón , better known as Isabel Martínez de Perón or Isabel Perón, is a former President of Argentina. She was also the third wife of another former President, Juan Perón...

, 124 soldiers and police had been killed in incidents involving left wing guerrillas in what the military referred to as, "the Dirty War".

In 1976 there had been plans to send great part of the Uruguayan MLN Tupamaros, the Chilean Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR) and the Bolivian Revolutionary Army (ELN) to fight alongside the ERP and Montoneros in Argentina, but the plans failed to materialize due to the military coup.

Furthermore, by 1976 Operation Condor, which had already centralized information from South American intelligence agencies for years, was at its height. Chilean exiles in Argentina were threatened again, and had to go into hiding or seek refuge in a third country. Chilean General Carlos Prats
Carlos Prats
General Carlos Prats González was a Chilean Army officer, a political figure, minister and Vice President of Chile during President Salvador Allende's government, and General Augusto Pinochet's predecessor as commander-in-chief of the Chilean Army...

 had already been assassinated by the Chilean DINA in Buenos Aires in 1974, with the help of former CIA agent Michael Townley
Michael Townley
Michael Vernon Townley is a US citizen currently living in the United States under terms of the federal witness protection program. A Central Intelligence Agency agent and operative of the Chilean secret police, DINA, Townley confessed, was convicted, and served 62 months in prison in the United...

 and DINA agent Enrique Arancibia. Cuban diplomats were also assassinated in Buenos Aires in the infamous Automotores Orletti torture center, one of the 300 clandestine prisons of the dictatorship, managed by the Grupo de Tareas 18, headed by Aníbal Gordon, previously convicted for armed robbery, and answered directly to the General Commandant of the SIDE
Side
Side was an ancient Greek city in Anatolia, in the region of Pamphylia, in what is now Antalya province, on the southern Mediterranean coast of Turkey...

, Otto Paladino. Automotores Orletti was the main base of foreign intelligence services involved in Operation Condor. One of the survivors, José Luis Bertazzo, who was detained for two months there, identified Chileans, Uruguayans, Paraguayans and Bolivians among the prisoners. These captives were interrogated by agents from their own countries. According to John Dinges
John Dinges
John Dinges was special correspondent for Time, Washington Post and ABC Radio in Chile. With a group of Chilean journalists, he cofounded the Chilean magazine APSI...

's Los años del Cóndor, Chilean MIR
Mir
Mir was a space station operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001, at first by the Soviet Union and then by Russia. Assembled in orbit from 1986 to 1996, Mir was the first modular space station and had a greater mass than that of any previous spacecraft, holding the record for the...

 prisoners in Orletti center told José Luis Bertazzo that they had seen two Cuban diplomats, 22 years-old Jesús Cejas Arias, and 26 years-old Crescencio Galañega, tortured by Gordon's group and interrogated by a man who specially came one day from Miami to interrogate them. The two Cuban diplomats, charged with the protection of the Cuban ambassador to Argentina, Emilio Aragonés, had been kidnapped on 9 August 1976, in the intersection between Calle Arribeños and Virrey del Pino, by 40 armed SIDE agents who blocked off all sides of the street with their Ford Falcon
Ford Falcon (Argentina)
The Argentine Ford Falcon is a car that was built by Ford Argentina from 1962 to 1991. Mechanically, it was based on Ford USA's 1960 Falcon. The Falcon retained the same elegant body style throughout its production, with several substantial face lifts taking place during its lifespan, giving it a...

s, the cars used by the security forces during the dictatorship.

According to John Dinges, the FBI as well as the CIA were informed of their abduction. In his book Dinges published a cable sent by Robert Scherrer, an FBI agent in Buenos Aires on 22 September 1976, where he mentions in passing that former CIA agent Michael Townley
Michael Townley
Michael Vernon Townley is a US citizen currently living in the United States under terms of the federal witness protection program. A Central Intelligence Agency agent and operative of the Chilean secret police, DINA, Townley confessed, was convicted, and served 62 months in prison in the United...

, later convicted of the assassination on 21 September 1976 of former Chilean minister Orlando Letelier
Orlando Letelier
Marcos Orlando Letelier del Solar was a Chilean economist, Socialist politician and diplomat during the presidency of Socialist President Salvador Allende...

 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, had also taken part to the interrogation of the two Cubans. Former head of the DINA confirmed to Argentine federal judge María Servini de Cubría on 22 December 1999, in Santiago de Chile, the presence of Michael Townley and Cuban Guillermo Novo Sampoll in the Orletti center. The two men travelled from Chile to Argentina on 11 August 1976, and "cooperated in the torture and assassination of the two Cuban diplomats". Luis Posada Carriles
Luis Posada Carriles
Luis Clemente Faustino Posada Carriles is a Cuban-born Venezuelan anti-communist and former Central Intelligence Agency agent....

 boasted in his autobiography, Los caminos del guerrero, of the murder of the two young men. According to the "terror archives
Terror archives
The "Archives of Terror" were found on December 22, 1992, by a lawyer, Dr. Martín Almada, and a human-rights activist and judge, José Agustín Fernández, in a police station in a suburb of Asunción , capital of Paraguay. Fernández was looking for files on a former prisoner...

" discovered in Paraguay in 1992, 50,000 persons were murdered in the frame of Condor, 9,000–30,000 disappeared (desaparecidos) and 400,000 incarcerated.

False flag actions by SIDE agents

During a 1981 interview whose contents were revealed by documents declassified by the CIA in 2000, former CIA and DINA agent Michael Townley
Michael Townley
Michael Vernon Townley is a US citizen currently living in the United States under terms of the federal witness protection program. A Central Intelligence Agency agent and operative of the Chilean secret police, DINA, Townley confessed, was convicted, and served 62 months in prison in the United...

 explained that Ignacio Novo Sampol, member of CORU anti-Castro organization, had agreed to commit the Cuban Nationalist Movement in the kidnapping, in Buenos Aires, of a president of a Dutch bank. The abduction, organized by civilian SIDE
Side
Side was an ancient Greek city in Anatolia, in the region of Pamphylia, in what is now Antalya province, on the southern Mediterranean coast of Turkey...

 agents, the Argentine intelligence agency, was to obtain a ransom. Townley said that Novo Sampol had provided $6,000 from the Cuban Nationalist Movement, forwarded to the civilian SIDE agents to pay for the preparation expenses of the kidnapping. After returning to the US, Novo Sampol sent Townley a stock of paper, used to print pamphlets in the name of "Grupo Rojo" (Red Group), an imaginary Argentine Marxist terrorist organization, which was to claim credit for the abduction of the Dutch banker. Townley declared that the pamphlets were distributed in Mendoza
Mendoza, Argentina
Mendoza is the capital city of Mendoza Province, in Argentina. It is located in the northern-central part of the province, in a region of foothills and high plains, on the eastern side of the Andes. As of the , Mendoza's population was 110,993...

 and Córdoba
Córdoba, Argentina
Córdoba is a city located near the geographical center of Argentina, in the foothills of the Sierras Chicas on the Suquía River, about northwest of Buenos Aires. It is the capital of Córdoba Province. Córdoba is the second-largest city in Argentina after the federal capital Buenos Aires, with...

 in relation with false flag
False flag
False flag operations are covert operations designed to deceive the public in such a way that the operations appear as though they are being carried out by other entities. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is flying the flag of a country other than one's own...

 bombings perpetrated by SIDE agents, which had as aim to accredit the existence of the fake Grupo Rojo. However, the SIDE agents procrastinated too much, and the kidnapping finally was not carried out.

Human rights violations and guerrilla activity from 1976 to 1983

On 5 January 1979, the New York Times published an article by David Vidal, who claimed that the number of disappeared in Latin America now numbered 30,000. The Christian Science Monitor and Boston Globe followed suit with similar articles claiming that 30,000 people had disappeared under military dictatorships in Latin America. The Los Angeles Times repeated the claims of 30,000 Latin Americans disappeared in a new article in October and November of that year. In May 1980, the Montreal Gazette, in an interview with the sister of the slain guerrilla commander Ernesto (Che) Guevara, Cecilia Guevara, said that in Argentina alone more 30,000 people had disappeared and another 15,000 had been imprisoned.

On 10 December 1983, Raúl Alfonsín assumed the presidency in Argentina, and on 17 December he announced that he was setting up a commission to investigate the disappearances of what he believed to be more than 6,000 Argentines in nearly eight years of military rule.

The National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons (CONADEP) researched and recorded, case by case, the "disappearance
Forced disappearance
In international human rights law, a forced disappearance occurs when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organization or by a third party with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of a state or political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the...

" of about 9,000 persons, though Argentinian human rights group maintain that 30,000 disappeared. However, official records put the number of disappeared at 13,000. An estimated 15,000 people "disappeared" in Argentina, according to a Human Rights Watch report in 2002.Human rights groups such as Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 were gravely concerned by the state's use of 'disappearances' and periodical use of extrajudicial killings against what were supposed 'subversives'. In the last months of military junta under Lieutenant-General Reynaldo Bignone, Amnesty International estimated the total number of disappeared in Argentina to be 15,000.

Anyone believed to be associated with activist groups, including trade-union members, students (including very young students, for example in September 1976 during the Night of the Pencils
Night of the Pencils
The Night of the Pencils , was a series of kidnappings and forced disappearances, followed by the torture, rape, and murder of a number of young students during the last Argentine dictatorship...

, an operation directed by Ramón Camps
Ramón Camps
Ramón Juan Camps was an Argentine general and the head of the Buenos Aires Provincial Police during the military dictatorship known as the National Reorganization Process...

, General and head of the Buenos Aires Provincial Police
Buenos Aires Provincial Police
The Buenos Aires Provincial Police is the police service responsible for policing the Province of Buenos Aires, in Argentina....

 from April 1976 to December 1977), people who had uncovered evidence of government corruption, and people thought to hold left-wing views (for example French nuns Léonie Duquet
Leonie Duquet
Léonie Duquet was a French nun who was killed by the military regime of Argentine President Jorge Rafael Videla during the Dirty War.-Biography:...

 and Alice Domon
Alice Domon
Alice Domon, Caty, was a Roman Catholic nun from France whose forced disappearance occurred in Argentina during the military dictatorship of the "National Reorganization Process" .-Life:Alice Domon was born in Charquemont in France's Doubs region...

, kidnapped by Alfredo Astiz
Alfredo Astiz
Alfredo Ignacio Astiz was a Commander, intelligence office and maritime commando in the Argentine Navy during the dictatorial rule of Jorge Rafael Videla in the Proceso de Reorganización Nacional...

). Ramón Camps told Clarín
Clarín (newspaper)
Clarín is the largest newspaper in Argentina, published by the Grupo Clarín media group. It was founded by Roberto Noble on 28 August 1945. It is politically centrist but popularly understood to oppose the Kirchner government...

in 1984 that he had used torture as a method of interrogation and orchestrated 5,000 forced disappearances, and justified the appropriation of newborns from their imprisoned mothers "because subversive parents will raise subversive children". But, there are people such as Professor Paul H. Lewis, who has written Guerrillas and Generals: The Dirty War in Argentina, that claim the guerrilla threat was real and that the guerrillas had countless sympathizers among the civilian population. Terence Roehrig, who has written The prosecution of former military leaders in newly democratic nations. The cases of Argentina, Greece, and South Korea (McFarland & Company, 2001), estimates that of the disappeared "at least 10,000 were involved in various ways with the guerrillas". Many of the "disappeared" were pushed out of planes and into the Río de la Plata
Río de la Plata
The Río de la Plata —sometimes rendered River Plate in British English and the Commonwealth, and occasionally rendered [La] Plata River in other English-speaking countries—is the river and estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay River and the Paraná River on the border between Argentina and...

 or the Atlantic Ocean to drown. This form of disappearance
Forced disappearance
In international human rights law, a forced disappearance occurs when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organization or by a third party with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of a state or political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the...

, theorized by Luis María Mendía
Luis María Mendía
Luis María Mendía was the Argentine Chief of Naval Operations in 1976-77, with the rank of vice-admiral. According to confessions gathered by Horacio Verbitsky and made by Adolfo Scilingo , Luis María Mendía was the architect of the "death flight" assassination method whereby the Argentine state...

, former chief of naval operations in 1976–77 who is today before the court for his role in the ESMA
ESMA
The Navy Petty-Officers School of Mechanics , commonly referred to by its abbreviation ESMA, is a facility of the Argentine Navy that was employed as an illegal detention center during the dictatorial rule of the National Reorganization Process...

 case, was termed vuelos de la muerte ("death flights"). These individuals who suddenly vanished are called los desaparecidos, meaning "the missing ones" or "vanished ones". This term often refers to the 9,000–30,000 Argentines that went missing. Tomás Di Toffino, Deputy Secretary General of Luz y Fuerza de Córdoba, was kidnapped on 28 November 1976 and executed in a military camp in Córdoba on 28 February 1977, in a "military ceremony" presided by General Luciano Benjamín Menéndez.

In December 1976, 22 captured Montoneros responsible for the death of General Cáceres Monié and the attack on the Argentinian Army 29th Mountain Infantry Regiment were tortured and executed during the Massacre of Margarita Belén
Massacre of Margarita Belén
The Massacre of Margarita Belén took place during the "Dirty War" in Argentina. It involved the torture and execution of 22 Montoneros, some of whom were killed after surrendering and laying down their weapons near the town of Margarita Belén, Chaco Province, on 13 December 1976, in a joint...

, in the military Chaco Province
Chaco Province
Chaco is an Argentine province located in the north of the country, near the border with Paraguay. Its capital is Resistencia on the Paraná River opposite the city of Corrientes...

, for which Videla would be found guilty of homicide during the 1985 Trial of the Juntas, as well as Cristino Nicolaides, junta leader Leopoldo Galtieri
Leopoldo Galtieri
Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri Castelli was an Argentine general and President of Argentina from December 22, 1981 to June 18, 1982, during the last military dictatorship . The death squad Intelligence Battalion 601 directly reported to him...

 and Santa Fe Provincial Police chief Wenceslao Ceniquel. The same year, fifty anonymous persons were illegally executed by a firing-squad in Córdoba

Victims' relatives uncovered evidence that some children taken from their mothers soon after birth were being raised as the adopted children of military men, as in the case of Silvia Quintela
Silvia Quintela
Silvia Quintela was an Argentine doctor who became one of the best-known victims among "the disappeared" during 1976-83 military dictatorship. Her case has gained recognition for the fact that at the time of her detention by the military junta, she and her husband Abel Madariaga, an agronomist,...

, a member of the Montoneros guerrillas movement. For three decades, the Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo
Plaza de Mayo
The Plaza de Mayo is the main square in downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is flanked by Hipólito Yrigoyen, Balcarce, Rivadavia and Bolívar streets....

, a group founded in 1977, has demanded the return of these kidnapped children, estimated to number as many as five hundred. 77 of the kidnapped children have been located so far.

On 28 January 1977, Montoneros planted a bomb in a suburban police station, killing three policemen and wounding at least 10 others. On 5 April 1977, the Montoneros detonated a powerful bomb inside the building housing the Argentinian Air Force Headquarters located in Buenos Aires. On 7 May 1977, the Montoneros mortally wounded Vice-Admiral César Augusto Guzzetti of the Argentinian Navy. In 1977, 36 policeman in Buenos Aires alone were assassinated or killed in action with militants and left-wing guerrillas. That year, Videla told British journalists: "I emphatically deny that there are concentration camps in Argentina, or military establishments in which people are held longer than is absolutely necessary in this ... fight against subversion". Alicia Partnoy
Alicia Partnoy
Alicia Mabel Partnoy is a human rights activist, poet, and translator.After Argentinian President Juan Perón died, the students from the left of the Peronist political party organized with fervor within the country's universities and with workers, were persecuted and imprisoned...

, who was tortured and wrote her story in "The Little School
The Little School
The Little School is a novel written by Alicia Partnoy, a woman who was "disappeared" during the Dirty War period of the history of Argentina. It is an account of a clandestine detention center. She tells of all the people that she met and saw through a tiny hole in her blindfold. The guards made...

", and others, have claimed otherwise.

In September 1977, General Albano Harguindeguy, minister of the interior, admitted that in May of that year 5,618 disappeared in the form of PEN detenidos-desaparecidos were being held in detention camps throughout Argentina.

The Montoneros tried to disrupt the World Cup Soccer Tournament being hosted in Argentina in 1978 by launching a number of bomb attacks.

In late September 1979, Major-General Luciano Benjamín Menéndez tried to stage a military takeover from Córdoba, calling for Lieutenant-General Roberto Eduardo Viola's resignation, charging the army chief had not "kept the promise to completely eradicate subversion, making it impossible for Marxism to make a comeback in the country in the future". Viola, a moderate who favored a return to democracy, was forced to send in 4,000 paratroopers to put down the rebellion.

In late 1979, the Montoneros launched a "strategic counteroffensive" in Argentina, and lost more than one hundred commandos killed. The exiled Montoneros had been sent back to Argentina after receiving special forces training in terrorist camps in the Middle East. The Montoneros leadership had wrongly believed the moment was ripe for revolution in Argentina.
More than 600 Argentines, the majority of them civilians, had disappeared in 1978, and as the decade came to an end there were "only" 36 reported incidents of disappearances since January 1979.
In 1980, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel is an Argentine sculptor, architect and pacifist. He was the recipient of the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize.-Biography:Pérez Esquivel was born in Buenos Aires to a Spanish fisherman who emigrated to Argentina...

, a Catholic human rights activist who had organized the Servicio de Paz y Justicia (Peace and Justice Service) and suffered torture while held without trial for 14 months in a Buenos Aires concentration camp, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

 for his efforts in the defense of human rights in Argentina. On 17 September 1980, a team of former ERP commanders killed Anastasio Somoza Debayle
Anastasio Somoza
Anastasio Somoza may be:Nicaraguan dictators:* Anastasio Somoza García, * Anastasio Somoza Debayle, Also:* Anastasio Somoza Portocarrero, son of Somoza Debayle...

, the former president of Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

, in a carefully planned ambush that also killed his driver and his financial advisor. Unable to operate in Argentina any longer, some Argentine guerrillas relocated to Central America. During the 1980s, a captured Sandinista guerrilla revealed that Montoneros "Special Forces" were training Sandinista frogmen and conducting gun runs across the Gulf of Fonseca to the Sandinista allies in El Salvador, FMLN guerrillas

In 1981, Videla retired and General Roberto Eduardo Viola
Roberto Eduardo Viola
Roberto Eduardo Viola Redondo was an Argentine military officer who briefly served as president of Argentina from March 29 to December 11, 1981 during a period of military rule.-President of Argentina:...

 replaced him, but nine months later, Viola stepped down, allegedly for health reasons, and General Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri took the post. Democracy returned with Raúl Alfonsín
Raúl Alfonsín
Raúl Ricardo Alfonsín was an Argentine lawyer, politician and statesman, who served as the President of Argentina from December 10, 1983, to July 8, 1989. Alfonsín was the first democratically-elected president of Argentina following the military government known as the National Reorganization...

, who created the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons (CONADEP) on 15 December 1983. Under Alfonsín, Congress would then pass the Ley de Punto Final and Ley de Obediencia Debida as amnesty laws, overturned in June 2005 by the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of Argentina
The Supreme Court of Argentina is the highest court of law of the Argentine Republic. It was inaugurated on 15 January 1863. However, during much of the 20th century, the Court and, in general, the Argentine judicial system, has lacked autonomy from the executive power...

.

According to Argentine war correspondent Nicolas Kasanzew, a pro-Montoneros group of Buenos Aires national sevicemen saw action in the Falklands War with the 7th Infantry Regiment, unbeknown to their superiors. Upon returning to Argentina, these soldiers formed a vocal veterans group that repeatedly accused their officers of cowardice and maltreatment. They were largely ignored by the Alfonsin and Menem governments. But their attempts to arrest and put on trial their former commanders gained momentum under the presidency of the Kirchners. The case ran its course but their case was declared null and void in May 2011 when it was discovered that Pablo Andres Vassel, a former Corrientes human rights' lawyer representing their case, was paying for false testimonies against Argentine Army officers and NCOs.

The Disappeared held under PEN

By the time of the coup on 24 March 1976, the number of disappeared held under Poder Ejecutivo Nacional (PEN) stood at least 5,182.
Some 18,000 disappeared in the form of PEN detainees were imprisoned in Argentina by the end of 1977 and it is estimated that some 3,000 deaths occurred in the Navy Engineering School (ESMA) alone.
These disappeared were held incommunicado and reportedly tortured. Some, like senator Hipolito Solari Yrigoyen and socialist leader professor Alfredo Bravo, were "detenidos-desaparecidos". On 10 November 1977, Colonel Ricardo Flouret and captain Eduardo Andujar, representing the interior ministry, explained to Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 that many of the disappeared were guerrillas who had gone underground or fled the country.

By refusing to acknowledge the existence of what was later established to be at least 340 concentration camps throughout the country they also denied the existence of their occupants, some 30,000 Argentinians are estimated to have passed through the camps. The total number of people who were detained for long periods was 8,625. Among them was future President Carlos Menem
Carlos Menem
Carlos Saúl Menem is an Argentine politician who was President of Argentina from 1989 to 1999. He is currently an Argentine National Senator for La Rioja Province.-Early life:...

, who between 1976 and 1981 had been a political prisoner.

US President Jimmy Carter offered to accept 3,000 PEN detainees, as long as they had no terrorist background. Some 8,600 PEN disappeared were eventually released under international pressure. Of these 4,029 were held in illegal detention centres for less than a year, 2,296 for one to three years, 1,172 for three to five years, 668 for five to seven years, and 431 for seven to nine years. Of these detenidos-desaparecidos 157 were murdered after being released from detention.
In one frank memo, written in 1977, an official at the Foreign Ministry issued the following warning:
Our situation presents certain aspects which are without doubt difficult to defend if they are analyzed from the point of view of international law. These are: the delays incurred before foreign consuls can visit detainees of foreign nationality, (contravening article 34 of the Convention of Vienna.) the fact that those detained under Executive Power (PEN) are denied the right to legal advice or defense, the complete lack of information of persons detained under PEN, the fact that PEN detainees are not processed for long periods of time, the fact that there are no charges against detainees. The kidnapping and disappearance of people.

Children of the Disappeared

At the time when the CONADEP report was prepared, the Asociación Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo or Abuelas), had records of 172 children, who disappeared together with their parents or were born at the numerous concentration camps and had not been returned to their families.

The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo now believe up to 500 grandchildren were stolen. 102 are believed to have been located.
On 13 April 2000, the grandmothers received a tip off that the birth certificate of Rosa Roisinblit's infant grandson, born in detention, had been falsified and the child given to an Air Force civil agent and his wife. Following the anonymous phone call, he was located and agreed to a DNA blood test, confirming his true identity. Rodolfo Fernando, grandson of Roisinblit, is the first known newborn of missing children returned to his family through the work of the grandmothers. Roisinblit's daughter, 25 year-old Patricia Julia Roisinblit de Perez, who was active in the Montoneros
Montoneros
Montoneros was an Argentine Peronist urban guerrilla group, active during the 1960s and 1970s. The name is an allusion to 19th century Argentinian history. After Juan Perón's return from 18 years of exile and the 1973 Ezeiza massacre, which marked the definitive split between left and right-wing...

, was kidnapped along with her husband, 24 year-old José Martínas Pérez Rojo, on 6 October 1978.

Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, is the best-known Argentine human rights organization. For over ten years, the Mothers have campaigned to find out about the fate of their lost relatives. The Mothers first held their vigil at Plaza de Mayo in 1977, where they continue to gather there every Thursday afternoon.

An article of the Madres of the Plaza de Mayo monthly publication caused quite a stir in the mid-1980s, when the Human Rights Group Familiares were quoted as saying: "Familiares assumes the causes of their children's fight as their own, vindicates all the disappeared as fighters of the people, and understands (...) for which these disappeared people fought..."

In 1986 the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo split into two groups: Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo – Linea Fundadora (Founding Line), remains focused in recovering the remains of the missing and bringing former police and military commanders to justice. The Asociacion de Madres de Plaza de Mayo (The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association)on the other hand, is opposed to the search for and identification of the missing and have also rejected monetary compensation.

In September 2011, the original Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo organization became embroiled in a major corruption scandal over alleged money laundering and fraud with government housing funds granted.

Falklands War

In 1982, the Argentine military invaded the British-controlled Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located about from the coast of mainland South America. The archipelago consists of East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 lesser islands. The capital, Stanley, is on East Falkland...

 in a desperate attempt to rally the population behind a war. The junta hoped that the United States would side with the Argentines based on, among other things, the Argentine/CIA intervention in Central America against the Sandinistas and that the British would not be willing to go to war over the islands. However, the U.S. sided with the British who, led by Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

, defeated the Argentines after 73 days. The loss of the war led to the resignation of Galtieri on 17 June of the same year and a fourth (and last) junta was placed in power under a new president, Reynaldo Bignone
Reynaldo Bignone
Reynaldo Benito Antonio Bignone is an Argentine general who served as dictatorial President of Argentina from July 1, 1982 to December 10, 1983. In 2010, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the kidnappings, torture, and murders of the Dirty War.-Early career:Reynaldo Benito...

. Raúl Alfonsín's civilian government took control of the country on 10 December 1983. Galtieri, along with other members of the former junta, was soon arrested and charged in a military court with mismanagement during the war. They were also charged later on human rights violations during the Trial of the Juntas.

Anti-Communism

The junta's mission was stated to defend against international communism. Indeed, the "ideological war" doctrine of the Argentine military
Argentine Army
The Argentine Army is the land armed force branch of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic and the senior military service of the country.- History :...

 focused on eliminating the supposed social base of insurgency, as much as targeting actual guerrillas. Associated with other South American dictatorships in Operation Condor, they also worked closely with the Asian-based World Anti-Communist League
World Anti-Communist League
The World League for Freedom and Democracy is an international anti-communist political organization founded in 1966 in Taipei, Republic of China , under the initiative of Chiang Kai-shek. It was founded with the aim of opposing Communism around the world through "unconventional" methods...

 and its Latin American affiliate, the Confederación Anticomunista Latinoamericana. In 1980, the Argentine military helped Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie
Klaus Barbie
Nikolaus 'Klaus' Barbie was an SS-Hauptsturmführer , Gestapo member and war criminal. He was known as the Butcher of Lyon.- Early life :...

, Stefano Delle Chiaie
Stefano Delle Chiaie
Stefano Delle Chiaie is a neofascist Italian activist . He went on to become a wanted man worldwide, suspect to be involved in Italy's strategy of tension, but was acquitted. He was a friend of Licio Gelli, grandmaster of P2 masonic lodge...

 and major drug lords mount the bloody Cocaine Coup
Cocaine Coup
Cocaine Coup is a term that has been applied to* the July 1980 coup in Bolivia of Luis García Meza Tejada* the August 1978 coup in Honduras of Policarpo Paz García...

 of Luis García Meza Tejada
Luis García Meza Tejada
Luis García Meza Tejada is a former Bolivian dictator. A native of La Paz, he was a career military officer who rose to the rank of general during the reign of dictator Hugo Banzer...

 in neighboring Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

. They hired 70 foreign agents for this task, which was managed in particular by the 601st Intelligence Batallion headed by General Guillermo Suárez Mason
Guillermo Suárez Mason
Carlos Guillermo Suárez Mason was an Argentine military officer convicted for Dirty War crimes during the 1976 — 83 military dictatorship. He was in charge of the Batallón de Inteligencia 601.-Biography:...

.

After having been trained by the French military, the Argentine Armed Forces would train their counterparts, in Nicaragua, but also El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

, Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

 and Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

, in the frame of Operation Charly. From 1977 to 1984, after the Falklands War, the Argentine Armed Forces exported counter-insurgency
Counter-insurgency
A counter-insurgency or counterinsurgency involves actions taken by the recognized government of a nation to contain or quell an insurgency taken up against it...

 tactics, including the systemic use of torture, death squads and disappearances. Special force
Special Force
Special Force is a first-person shooter military video game, published by Hezbollah, created using the Genesis 3D engine. The game is set in a 3D environment, in which the player takes the role of a Hezbollah combatant fighting the IDF...

 units, such as Batallón de Inteligencia 601
Batallón de Inteligencia 601
The Batallón de Inteligencia 601 was a special military intelligence service of the Argentine Army whose structure was set up in the late 1970s, active in the Dirty War and Operation Condor, and disbanded in 2000...

, headed in 1979 by Colonel Jorge Alberto Muzzio, trained the Nicaraguan Contras in the 1980s, in particular in Lepaterique
Lepaterique
Lepaterique is a municipality in the Honduran department of Francisco Morazán.A military base located in Lepaterique was used during the 1980s by the Contras and by the Argentine 601 Intelligence Battalion, which was involved in Operation Condor....

 base. Following the release of classified documents and an interview with Duane Clarridge, former CIA responsible for those operations, the Clarín
Clarín (newspaper)
Clarín is the largest newspaper in Argentina, published by the Grupo Clarín media group. It was founded by Roberto Noble on 28 August 1945. It is politically centrist but popularly understood to oppose the Kirchner government...

showed that with the election of President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 in 1977, the CIA was blocked from engaging in the special warfare it had previously delivered against opponents. In conformity with the National Security Doctrine, the Argentine militaries then did the work the most conservative North-American elements wanted to achieve, while they pressured the US to be more active in counter-revolutionary activities. And finally, they submitted themselves to Washington's control following the access of Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 to the presidency in 1981.

Many Chilean and Uruguayan exiles in Argentina were murdered by Argentine security forces (including high-profile figures such as General Carlos Prats
Carlos Prats
General Carlos Prats González was a Chilean Army officer, a political figure, minister and Vice President of Chile during President Salvador Allende's government, and General Augusto Pinochet's predecessor as commander-in-chief of the Chilean Army...

 in Buenos Aires in 1974, Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz and Zelmar Michelini
Zelmar Michelini
Zelmar Michelini was a Uruguayan reporter and politician, assassinated in Buenos Aires in 1976 as part of Operation Condor....

 in Buenos Aires in 1976). Others, such as Wilson Ferreira Aldunate escaped death. Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 documents released in 2002 show that Argentina's brutal policies were known and tolerated by the United States State Department, led by Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger
Heinz Alfred "Henry" Kissinger is a German-born American academic, political scientist, diplomat, and businessman. He is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He served as National Security Advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and...

 under Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

's presidency, and that the Argentine military knew the U.S. supported the repression.

US involvement with the Junta

State Department documents obtained by the National Security Archive
National Security Archive
The National Security Archive is a 501 non-governmental, non-profit research and archival institution located in the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.. Founded in 1985 by Scott Armstrong, it archives and publishes declassified U.S. government files concerning selected topics of US...

 under the Freedom of Information Act show that in October 1976, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger
Heinz Alfred "Henry" Kissinger is a German-born American academic, political scientist, diplomat, and businessman. He is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He served as National Security Advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and...

 and high-ranking U.S. officials gave their full support to the Argentine military junta and urged them to hurry up and finish the "dirty war" before the U.S. Congress cut military aid.

The U.S. was also a key provider of economic and military assistance to the Videla regime. In early April 1976, the U.S. Congress approved a request by the Ford Administration, written and supported by Henry Kissinger, to grant $50,000,000 in military support to the Argentine military regime. At the end of 1976, Congress granted an additional $30,000,000 in military aid, and recommendations by the Ford Administration to increase military aid to $63,500,000 the following year were also granted by congress. U.S. military aid to the Videla regime continued on a smaller scale under the successive Carter Administration, despite its open condemnation of the junta's dismal human rights record.

The Reagan Administration
Reagan Administration
The United States presidency of Ronald Reagan, also known as the Reagan administration, was a Republican administration headed by Ronald Reagan from January 20, 1981, to January 20, 1989....

, whose first term began in 1981, however, asserted that the previous Carter Administration had weakened US diplomatic relationships with Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 allies in Argentina, and reversed the previous administration's official condemnation of the junta's human rights practices. The re-establishment of diplomatic ties allowed for CIA
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 collaboration with the Argentine intelligence service in training and arming the Nicaraguan Contras
Contras
The contras is a label given to the various rebel groups opposing Nicaragua's FSLN Sandinista Junta of National Reconstruction government following the July 1979 overthrow of Anastasio Somoza Debayle's dictatorship...

 against the Sandinista
Sandinista National Liberation Front
The Sandinista National Liberation Front is a socialist political party in Nicaragua. Its members are called Sandinistas in both English and Spanish...

 government. The 601 Intelligence Battalion
Batallón de Inteligencia 601
The Batallón de Inteligencia 601 was a special military intelligence service of the Argentine Army whose structure was set up in the late 1970s, active in the Dirty War and Operation Condor, and disbanded in 2000...

, for example, trained Contras at Lepaterique
Lepaterique
Lepaterique is a municipality in the Honduran department of Francisco Morazán.A military base located in Lepaterique was used during the 1980s by the Contras and by the Argentine 601 Intelligence Battalion, which was involved in Operation Condor....

 base, in Honduras.

Cuban involvement with the guerrillas

During the height of Argentine left-wing terrorism
Left-wing terrorism
Left-wing terrorism, sometimes called Marxist-Leninist terrorism or revolutionary/left-wing terrorism is a tactic used to overthrow capitalism and replace it with Marxist-Leninist or socialist government.-Ideology:...

, the Cubans used their embassy in Buenos Aires to maintain direct contact with Argentine guerrillas. In 1973, the Montoneros merged with the Cuban-backed FAR (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias or Armed Revolutionary Forces) that in 1972 had planted a bomb in the Sheraton hotel in Buenos Aires that killed a Canadian tourist. On 13 February 1974, a clandestine meeting was held in Mendoza, Argentina, and the Junta de Coordinacion Revolucionaria (JCR or Junta of Revolutionary Coordination) was formed. The JCR consisted of four guerrilla groups: the Uruguayan Tupamaros (MLN-T), the Chilean Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR) and the Bolivian Revolutionary Army (ELN). The ERP guerrillas maintained a guerrilla warfare training school, an arms factory, and a false documentation center in Argentina. These were all closed down in 1975 by Argentine security forces. In 1976, ERP guerrillas started receiving training in Cuba on an 1800 hectare (7 square miles) estate near Guanabo as well as at another site in Pinar del Rio. The course lasted at least three months and included the use of explosives, weapons tactics, survival in rugged terrain, tank warfare, and the techniques of clandestine warfare. Members of the ERP and Montoneros also received training from Iraq and Libya. In 1976 there had been plans to send great part of the Uruguayan, Chilean and Bolivian guerrillas to fight alongside the ERP and Montoneros in Argentina, but the plans failed to materialize because of the military coup. In 1978 Castro permitted the Montonero command to relocate to Cuba and supplied them with false documentation and funds from Cuban diplomatic circles. Following their relocation to Cuba, the Montoneros leadership made repeated attempts to infiltrate commando units to Argentina after these guerrillas had received special forces training in the Middle East as part of a combined effort between Palestinian PLO and Cuba.

"French Connection"

French journalist Marie-Monique Robin
Marie-Monique Robin
Marie-Monique Robin is an award-winning French journalist. She received the Albert Londres Prize in 1995 for Voleurs d'yeux, an expose about organ theft...

 has found in the archives of the Quai d'Orsay
Quai d'Orsay
The Quai d'Orsay is a quai in the VIIe arrondissement of Paris, part of the left bank of the Seine, and the name of the street along it. The Quai becomes the Quai Anatole France east of the Palais Bourbon, and the Quai de Branly west of the Pont de l'Alma.The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs is...

, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the original document proving that a 1959 agreement between Paris and Buenos Aires initiated a "permanent French military mission", formed of veterans who had fought in the Algerian War, and which was located in the offices of the chief of staff of the Argentine Armed Forces. It was continued until 1981, date of the election of socialist François Mitterrand
François Mitterrand
François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand was the 21st President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra, serving from 1981 until 1995. He is the longest-serving President of France and, as leader of the Socialist Party, the only figure from the left so far elected President...

. She showed how Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Marie René Georges Giscard d'Estaing is a French centre-right politician who was President of the French Republic from 1974 until 1981...

's government secretly collaborated with Videla's junta
National Reorganization Process
The National Reorganization Process was the name used by its leaders for the military government that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. In Argentina it is often known simply as la última junta militar or la última dictadura , because several of them existed throughout its history.The Argentine...

 in Argentina and with Augusto Pinochet
Augusto Pinochet
Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte, more commonly known as Augusto Pinochet , was a Chilean army general and dictator who assumed power in a coup d'état on 11 September 1973...

's regime in Chile. The first Argentine officers, among whom Alcides Lopez Aufranc, went to Paris to study for two years at the Ecole de Guerre military school in 1957, two years before the Cuban Revolution
Cuban Revolution
The Cuban Revolution was an armed revolt by Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement against the regime of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista between 1953 and 1959. Batista was finally ousted on 1 January 1959, and was replaced by a revolutionary government led by Castro...

 and when no Argentine guerrilla existed. "In practice, declared Robin to Página/12
Página/12
Página/12 is a newspaper based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.Página/12 was founded on May 25, 1987, by journalist Jorge Lanata in association with writer Osvaldo Soriano and investigative journalist Horacio Verbitsky...

, the arrival of the French in Argentina led to a massive extension of intelligence services and of the use of torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

 as the primary weapon of the anti-subversive war in the concept of modern warfare." The annihilation decrees signed by Isabel Perón had been inspired by French texts. During the Battle of Algiers, the police forces were put under the authority of the Army, and in particular of the paratrooper
Paratrooper
Paratroopers are soldiers trained in parachuting and generally operate as part of an airborne force.Paratroopers are used for tactical advantage as they can be inserted into the battlefield from the air, thereby allowing them to be positioned in areas not accessible by land...

s, who generalized interrogation
Interrogation
Interrogation is interviewing as commonly employed by officers of the police, military, and Intelligence agencies with the goal of extracting a confession or obtaining information. Subjects of interrogation are often the suspects, victims, or witnesses of a crime...

 sessions, systematically using torture and then disappearances. 30,000 persons disappeared in Algeria. Reynaldo Bignone
Reynaldo Bignone
Reynaldo Benito Antonio Bignone is an Argentine general who served as dictatorial President of Argentina from July 1, 1982 to December 10, 1983. In 2010, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the kidnappings, torture, and murders of the Dirty War.-Early career:Reynaldo Benito...

, named President of the Argentinian junta in July 1982, declared in her film: "The March 1976 order of battle is a copy of the Algerian battle." The same statements were issued by Generals Albano Harguindeguy
Albano Harguindeguy
Albano Eduardo Harguindeguy was a general of the Argentine Army, and the interior minister of Argentina under dictator Jorge Rafael Videla, during the National Reorganization Process ....

, Videla's Interior Minister, and Diaz Bessone, former Minister of Planification and ideologue of the junta. The French military would transmit to their Argentine counterparts the notion of "internal enemy" and the use of torture, death squads and "quadrillages".

Green members of parliament Noël Mamère
Noël Mamère
Noël Mamère is a French singer, cyclist and politician.He rose to fame in the 1980s as a TV entertainer, in particular on Antenne 2....

, Martine Billard
Martine Billard
Martine Billard is a French politician and députée, member of the Parti de Gauche.Martine Billard entered politics in May 1968 with the "comité d'action lycéen"...

 and Yves Cochet
Yves Cochet
Yves Cochet is a French politician, member of The Greens. He was minister in the government of Lionel Jospin.He wrote Apocalypse pétrole which was published in 2005.-External links:*...

 filed on 10 September 2003 a request for the constitution of a Parliamentary Commission on the "role of France in the support of military regimes in Latin America from 1973 to 1984" before the Foreign Affairs Commission of the National Assembly, presided by Edouard Balladur
Édouard Balladur
Édouard Balladur is a French politician who served as Prime Minister of France from 29 March 1993 to 10 May 1995.-Biography:Balladur was born in İzmir, Turkey, to an Armenian Catholic family with five children and long-standing ties to France...

 (UMP
Union for a Popular Movement
The Union for a Popular Movement is a centre-right political party in France, and one of the two major contemporary political parties in the country along with the center-left Socialist Party...

). Apart from Le Monde
Le Monde
Le Monde is a French daily evening newspaper owned by La Vie-Le Monde Group and edited in Paris. It is one of two French newspapers of record, and has generally been well respected since its first edition under founder Hubert Beuve-Méry on 19 December 1944...

, French newspapers remained silent on that request. However, UMP deputy Roland Blum
Roland Blum
Roland Blum is a French conservative politician, member of the Union for a Popular Movement . Former student of the Institut d'études politiques d'Aix-en-Provence , he was elected deputy on 16 June 2002 in the Bouches-du-Rhône...

, in charge of the Commission, refused to hear Marie-Monique Robin, and published in December 2003 a 12-page report qualified by Robin as the summum of bad faith. It claimed that no agreement had been signed, despite the agreement found by Robin in the Quai d'Orsay
Quai d'Orsay
The Quai d'Orsay is a quai in the VIIe arrondissement of Paris, part of the left bank of the Seine, and the name of the street along it. The Quai becomes the Quai Anatole France east of the Palais Bourbon, and the Quai de Branly west of the Pont de l'Alma.The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs is...



When Minister of Foreign Affairs Dominique de Villepin
Dominique de Villepin
Dominique Marie François René Galouzeau de Villepin is a French politician who served as the Prime Minister of France from 31 May 2005 to 17 May 2007....

 traveled to Chile in February 2004, he claimed that no cooperation between France and the military regimes had occurred.

Reporter Marie-Monique Robin thus declared to L'Humanité
L'Humanité
L'Humanité , formerly the daily newspaper linked to the French Communist Party , was founded in 1904 by Jean Jaurès, a leader of the French Section of the Workers' International...

newspaper: "French have systematized a military technique in urban environment which would be copied and pasted to Latin American dictatorships.". The methods employed during the 1957 Battle of Algiers
Battle of Algiers
Battle of Algiers or Algiers expedition may refer to:* The Siege of Algiers by Spain leading to the establishment of the Peñón of Algiers* The Capture of Algiers by Aruj Barbarossa* The Capture of Algiers by Hayreddin Barbarossa...

 were systematized and exported to the War School in Buenos Aires. Roger Trinquier
Roger Trinquier
Roger Trinquier was a French Army officer during World War II, the First Indochina War and the Algerian War, serving mainly in airborne and Special forces units...

's famous book on counter-insurgency
Counter-insurgency
A counter-insurgency or counterinsurgency involves actions taken by the recognized government of a nation to contain or quell an insurgency taken up against it...

 had a very strong influence in South America. She declared being shocked to learn that the DST French intelligence agency communicated to the DINA the name of the refugees who returned to Chile (Operation Retorno). All of these Chileans have been killed. "Of course, this puts in cause the French government, and Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Marie René Georges Giscard d'Estaing is a French centre-right politician who was President of the French Republic from 1974 until 1981...

, then President of the Republic. I was very shocked by the duplicity of the French diplomatic position which, on one hand, received with open arms the political refugees, and, on the other hand, collaborated with the dictatorships."

Marie-Monique Robin also demonstrated ties between the French far right and Argentina since the 1930s, in particular through the Catholic fundamentalist organization Cité catholique
Cité catholique
The Cité Catholique is a Traditionalist Catholic organisation created in 1946 by Jean Ousset, originally a follower of Charles Maurras and Jean Masson , not to be confused with Jacques Desoubrie, who also used the pseudonym Jean Masson...

, created by Jean Ousset
Jean Ousset
Jean Ousset was a French ideologist of National Catholicism born in Porto, Portugal. He was an activist of the Action française monarchist movement in the 1930s, and personal secretary of its leader, Charles Maurras...

, a former secretary of Charles Maurras
Charles Maurras
Charles-Marie-Photius Maurras was a French author, poet, and critic. He was a leader and principal thinker of Action Française, a political movement that was monarchist, anti-parliamentarist, and counter-revolutionary. Maurras' ideas greatly influenced National Catholicism and "nationalisme...

, the founder of the royalist Action Française movement, who was awarded the Francisque under Vichy
Vichy France
Vichy France, Vichy Regime, or Vichy Government, are common terms used to describe the government of France that collaborated with the Axis powers from July 1940 to August 1944. This government succeeded the Third Republic and preceded the Provisional Government of the French Republic...

 (1940–4). La Cité edited a review, Le Verbe, which influenced militaries during the Algerian War, notably by justifying the use of torture. At the end of the 1950s, the Cité catholique installed itself in Argentina and organized their cells in the Army. It greatly expanded itself during the government of General Juan Carlos Onganía
Juan Carlos Onganía
Juan Carlos Onganía Carballo was de facto president of Argentina from 29 June 1966 to 8 June 1970. He rose to power as military dictator after toppling, in a coup d’état self-named Revolución Argentina , the democratically elected president Arturo Illia .-Economic and social...

, in particular in 1969. The key figure of the Cité catholique was priest Georges Grasset, who became Videla's personal confessor and had been the spiritual guide of the Organisation de l'armée secrète (OAS) pro-French Algeria terrorist movement founded in Franquist Spain. This Catholic fundamentalist current in the Argentine Army explains, according to Robin, the importance and length of the French-Argentine cooperation. In Buenos Aires, Georges Grasset maintained links with Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
Marcel Lefebvre
Marcel François Marie Joseph Lefebvre was a French Roman Catholic archbishop. Following a career as an Apostolic Delegate for West Africa and Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers, he took the lead in opposing the changes within the Church associated with the Second Vatican Council.In 1970,...

, founder of Society of St. Pius X
Society of St. Pius X
The Society of Saint Pius X is an international Traditionalist Catholic organisation, founded in 1970 by the French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre...

 in 1970 and excommunicated in 1988. The Society of Pius-X has four monasteries in Argentina, the largest one in La Reja. There, a French priest declared to Marie-Monique Robin: "To save the soul of a Communist priest, one must kill him." There, she met Luis Roldan, former Under Secretary of Cult under Carlos Menem
Carlos Menem
Carlos Saúl Menem is an Argentine politician who was President of Argentina from 1989 to 1999. He is currently an Argentine National Senator for La Rioja Province.-Early life:...

, President of Argentina from 1989 to 1999, who was presented by Dominique Lagneau, the priest in charge of the monastery, as "Mr. Cité catholique in Argentina". Bruno Genta
Jordán Bruno Genta
Jordán Bruno Genta, was an Argentine writer and educator, widely considered the ideologue of the Argentine extreme right-wing.In his youth, Genta actively campaigned against several attempts at education reform, fearing that the changes would dilute the influence of Catholic teachings...

 and Juan Carlos Goyeneche represent this ideology.

Antonio Caggiano, archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1959 to 1975 wrote in 1961 a prologue to Jean Ousset's Spanish version of Le Marxisme-léninisme. Caggiano explained that "Marxism is the negation of Christ and his Church" and spoke of a Marxist conspiracy to take over the world, for which it was necessary to "prepare for the decisive battle". Together with President Arturo Frondizi
Arturo Frondizi
Arturo Frondizi Ercoli was the President of Argentina between May 1, 1958, and March 29, 1962, for the Intransigent Radical Civic Union.-Early life:Frondizi was born in Paso de los Libres, Corrientes Province...

 (Radical Civic Union
Radical Civic Union
The Radical Civic Union is a political party in Argentina. The party's positions on issues range from liberal to social democratic. The UCR is a member of the Socialist International. Founded in 1891 by radical liberals, it is the oldest political party active in Argentina...

, UCR), he inaugurated the first course on counter-revolutionary warfare in the Higher Military College (Frondizi was eventually overthrown for being "tolerant of Communism").

By 1963, cadets at the (then infamously well-known) Navy Mechanics School
ESMA
The Navy Petty-Officers School of Mechanics , commonly referred to by its abbreviation ESMA, is a facility of the Argentine Navy that was employed as an illegal detention center during the dictatorial rule of the National Reorganization Process...

 started receiving counter-insurgency classes aided by the film The Battle of Algiers
The Battle of Algiers (film)
The Battle of Algiers is a 1966 war film based on occurrences during the Algerian War against French colonial occupation in North Africa, the most prominent being the titular Battle of Algiers. It was directed by Gillo Pontecorvo...

, which showed the methods used by the French Army in Algeria. Caggiano, the military chaplain at the time, introduced the film approvingly and added a religiously oriented commentary to it. On 2 July 1966, four days after President Arturo Umberto Illia
Arturo Umberto Illia
Arturo Umberto Illia was President of Argentina from October 12, 1963, to June 28, 1966, and a member of the centrist UCR.-Biography:Arturo Umberto Illia was born August 4, 1900 in Pergamino, Buenos Aires Province, to Emma Francesconi and Martín Illia, Italian Argentine immigrants from the...

 was removed from office and replaced by the dictator Juan Carlos Onganía
Juan Carlos Onganía
Juan Carlos Onganía Carballo was de facto president of Argentina from 29 June 1966 to 8 June 1970. He rose to power as military dictator after toppling, in a coup d’état self-named Revolución Argentina , the democratically elected president Arturo Illia .-Economic and social...

, Caggiano declared: "We are at a sort of dawn, in which, thanks to God, we all sense that the country is again headed for greatness."

Argentine Admiral Luis María Mendía
Luis María Mendía
Luis María Mendía was the Argentine Chief of Naval Operations in 1976-77, with the rank of vice-admiral. According to confessions gathered by Horacio Verbitsky and made by Adolfo Scilingo , Luis María Mendía was the architect of the "death flight" assassination method whereby the Argentine state...

, who had theorized the practice of "death flights", testified in January 2007, before the Argentine judges, that a French intelligence "agent", Bertrand de Perseval, had participated in the abduction of the two French nuns, Léonie Duquet
Leonie Duquet
Léonie Duquet was a French nun who was killed by the military regime of Argentine President Jorge Rafael Videla during the Dirty War.-Biography:...

 and Alice Domont. Perseval, who lives today in Thailand, denied any links with the abduction, but did admit being a former member of the OAS, and having escaped from Argentina after the March 1962 Évian Accords
Évian Accords
The Évian Accords comprise a treaty which was signed in 1962 in Évian-les-Bains, France by France and the F.L.N. . The Accords put an end to the Algerian War with a formal cease-fire proclaimed for March 19, and formalized the idea of cooperative exchange between the two countries...

 putting an end to the Algerian War (1954–62). Referring to Marie Monique Robin's film documentary titled The Death Squads – the French School (Les escadrons de la mort – l'école française), Luis María Mendía asked before the Argentine Court that former French president, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Marie René Georges Giscard d'Estaing is a French centre-right politician who was President of the French Republic from 1974 until 1981...

, former French premier Pierre Messmer
Pierre Messmer
Pierre Joseph Auguste Messmer was a French Gaullist politician. He served as Minister of Armies under Charles de Gaulle from 1960 to 1969 – the longest serving since Étienne François, duc de Choiseul under Louis XV – and then as Prime Minister under Georges Pompidou from 1972 to 1974...

, former French embassador to Buenos Aires Françoise de la Gosse, and all officials in place in the French embassy in Buenos Aires between 1976 and 1983 be convoked before the court. Besides this "French connection", he has also charged former head of state Isabel Perón and former ministers Carlos Ruckauf
Carlos Ruckauf
Carlos Federico Ruckauf is a Peronist politician in Argentina, member of the Justicialist Party.-Biography:Carlos Federico Ruckauf was born in the western Buenos Aires suburb of Ramos Mejía. His parents separated when he was seven, and he lived in Mar del Plata, Salta, and Buenos Aires during the...

 and Antonio Cafiero
Antonio Cafiero
Antonio Francisco Cafiero is an Argentine Justicialist Party politician.-Biography:Cafiero was born in Buenos Aires. He joined Catholic Action in 1938, and enrolled at the University of Buenos Aires, becoming President of the Students' Association...

, whom had signed the "anti-subversion decrees" before Videla's 1976 coup d'état. According to ESMA
ESMA
The Navy Petty-Officers School of Mechanics , commonly referred to by its abbreviation ESMA, is a facility of the Argentine Navy that was employed as an illegal detention center during the dictatorial rule of the National Reorganization Process...

 survivor Graciela Dalo, this is another tactic which pretends that these crimes were legitimate as the 1987 Obediencia Debida Act claimed them to be and that they also obeyed to Isabel Perón's "anti-subversion decrees" (which, if true, would give them a formal appearance of legality, despite torture being forbidden by the Argentine Constitution) Alfredo Astiz
Alfredo Astiz
Alfredo Ignacio Astiz was a Commander, intelligence office and maritime commando in the Argentine Navy during the dictatorial rule of Jorge Rafael Videla in the Proceso de Reorganización Nacional...

 also referred before the courts to the "French connexion".

When Minister of Foreign Affairs Dominique de Villepin
Dominique de Villepin
Dominique Marie François René Galouzeau de Villepin is a French politician who served as the Prime Minister of France from 31 May 2005 to 17 May 2007....

 traveled to Chile in February 2004, he claimed that no cooperation between France and the military regimes had occurred.

Truth commission, decrees revoked

The junta relinquished power in 1983. After democratic elections, president elect Raúl Alfonsín
Raúl Alfonsín
Raúl Ricardo Alfonsín was an Argentine lawyer, politician and statesman, who served as the President of Argentina from December 10, 1983, to July 8, 1989. Alfonsín was the first democratically-elected president of Argentina following the military government known as the National Reorganization...

 created the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons (CONADEP) in December 1983, led by writer Ernesto Sábato
Ernesto Sabato
Ernesto Sabato , was an Argentine writer, painter and physicist. According to the BBC he "won some of the most prestigious prizes in Hispanic literature" and "became very influential in the literary world throughout Latin America"...

, to collect evidence about the Dirty War crimes. The gruesome details, including documentation of the disappearance of nearly 9,000 people, shocked the world. Jorge Rafael Videla, head of the junta, was among the generals convicted of human rights crimes, including forced disappearances, torture, murders and kidnappings. President Alfonsín ordered that the nine members of the military junta be judicially charged, during the 1985 Trial of the Juntas, together with guerrilla leaders Mario Firmenich, Fernando Vaca Narvaja, Rodolfo Galimberti, Roberto Perdía, and Enrique Gorriarán Merlo
Enrique Gorriarán Merlo
Enrique Haroldo Gorriarán Merlo was an Argentine guerrilla insurgency leader, born in San Nicolás de los Arroyos, Buenos Aires Province....

. As of 2010, most of the military officials are in trial or jail. In 1985, Videla was sentenced to life imprisonment at the military prison of Magdalena. Several senior officers also received jail terms. In the Prologue to the Nunca Más report ("Never Again"), Ernesto Sábato wrote:
From the moment of their abduction, the victims lost all rights. Deprived of all communication with the outside world, held in unknown places, subjected to barbaric tortures, kept ignorant of their immediate or ultimate fate, they risked being either thrown into a river or the sea, weighted down with blocks of cement, or burned to ashes. They were not mere objects, however, and still possessed all the human attributes: they could feel pain, could remember a mother, child or spouse, could feel infinite shame at being raped in public...


Reacting to the human rights trials, hardliners in the Argentine army staged a series of uprisings against the Alfonsín government. They barricaded themselves in several military barracks demanding an end of the trials. During Holy Week (Semana Santa) of April 1987, Lieutenant-Colonel Aldo Rico (commander of the 18th Infantry Regiment in Misiones province) and several junior army officers, barricaded themselves in the Campo de Mayo army barracks. The military rebels, who were called the carapintadas
Carapintadas
The were a group of mutineers in the Argentine Army, who took part in uprisings during the presidency of Raúl Alfonsín in Argentina.In December 1986, the Ley de Punto Final was introduced...

, called for an end to the trials and the resignation of army chief of staff General Hector Rios Erenu. Rico believed that the Alfonsin government would be unwilling or unable to put down the uprising. He was correct, as the Second Army Corps commander's orders to surround the barracks were ignored by his subordinates. Alfonsin called on the people to come to the Plaza de Mayo to defend democracy, and hundreds of thousands responded. After a helicopter visit by Alfonsin to Campo de Mayo, the rebels finally surrendered. There were denials of a deal but several generals were forced into early retirement and General Jose Dante Caridi was soon replaced Erenu as commander of the army.

In January 1988, a second military rebellion took place when Rico refused to accept the detention orders issued by a military court for having led the previous uprising. This time he set up base in the 4th Infantry Regiment in Monte Caseros and repudiated Caridi's calls to hand himself in. Rico again demanded an end to the human rights trials saying the promises of Alfonsin to the rebels had not been fulfilled. Caridi ordered several army units to suppress the rebellion. Their advance to the Monte Caseros barracks was slowed down by the rains and the news that rebel soldiers had laid mines that had wounded three loyal officers. Nevertheless, Rico's forces were defeated after a three hour battle. They surrendered on 17 January 1988 and 300 rebels were arrested, and sentenced to jail.

A third uprising took place in December 1988. This time the uprising was led by Lieutenant-Colonel Mohammed Alí Seineldín and was supported by 1,000 rebel troops. This uprising proved successful. Several of the demands of Seineldin and his followers were met and Caridi was forced into retirement and replaced by General Francisco Gassino who had served in the Falklands/Malvinas War and was held in high esteem by the carapintadas. On 5 October 1989 as part of a sweeping reform, the newly elected president, Carlos Menem, pardon
Pardon
Clemency means the forgiveness of a crime or the cancellation of the penalty associated with it. It is a general concept that encompasses several related procedures: pardoning, commutation, remission and reprieves...

ed those convicted in the human right trials and the rebel leaders imprisoned for taking part in the military uprisings. Menem also pardoned the leftist guerrilla commanders accused of terrorism.In a televised address to the nation, President Menem said, "I have signed the decrees so we may begin to rebuild the country in peace, in liberty and in justice ... We come from long and cruel confrontations. There was a wound to heal."

Some viewed the pardons as a pragmatic decision of national reconciliation that sought to please the military and thus prevent further uprisings. Others condemned it as unconstitutional, noting that the constitutionally acknowledged right of the president to pardon does not extend to those who have not yet been convicted – which was the situation in the case of some military officials. Others yet consider that this presidential privilege is inappropriate for modern times, a relic of monarchic rule that should be abolished. There were others like Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Desmond Tutu
Desmond Mpilo Tutu is a South African activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid...

, winner of the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize and chairman of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission that advocated for forgiveness and reconciliation saying: "without forgiveness there is no future". Lieutenant-General Félix Martín Bonnet, who was then commander of the Argentine Army, welcomed the pardons as an "inspiration of the armed forces, not only because those who had been their commanders were deprived of their freedom, but because many of their present members fought, and did so, in fulfillment of express orders."In September 1999, in the aftermath of the bloodshed witnessed in the break-up from Indonesia, the East Timorese leader, Xanana Gusmao, also called for reconciliation although not everyone agreed with his decision.

Foreign governments whose citizens were victims of the Dirty War (which included citizens of Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

, Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

, Spain, Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

, Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, and several other nations) are pressing individual cases against the former military regime. France has sought the extradition of Captain Alfredo Astiz
Alfredo Astiz
Alfredo Ignacio Astiz was a Commander, intelligence office and maritime commando in the Argentine Navy during the dictatorial rule of Jorge Rafael Videla in the Proceso de Reorganización Nacional...

 for the kidnapping and murder of its nationals, among them nuns Léonie Duquet
Leonie Duquet
Léonie Duquet was a French nun who was killed by the military regime of Argentine President Jorge Rafael Videla during the Dirty War.-Biography:...

 and Alice Domon
Alice Domon
Alice Domon, Caty, was a Roman Catholic nun from France whose forced disappearance occurred in Argentina during the military dictatorship of the "National Reorganization Process" .-Life:Alice Domon was born in Charquemont in France's Doubs region...

. Adolfo Scilingo
Adolfo Scilingo
Adolfo Scilingo was an Argentine naval officer who is currently serving 30 years in a Spanish prison after being convicted on April 19, 2005 for crimes against humanity, including extra-judicial execution.-Charges:Scilingo was charged under Spain's universal jurisdiction laws by investigating...

, a former Argentine naval officer, was convicted in Spain, on 19 April 2005, to 640 years on charges of crimes against humanity. In 1998, Videla received a prison sentence for his role in the kidnapping of eleven children during the regime and for the forgery of the children's identity documents (the "stolen babies", kidnapped from the parents arrested, and raised by military families). Before his death, Videla was serving this sentence under house arrest.

Under the presidency of Carlos Menem
Carlos Menem
Carlos Saúl Menem is an Argentine politician who was President of Argentina from 1989 to 1999. He is currently an Argentine National Senator for La Rioja Province.-Early life:...

, the military, police and left-wing guerrilla commanders accused of killings and torture during Argentina's "dirty war" of the 1970s couldn't be prosecuted for their crimes. However, at the end of 2005, during the presidency of Néstor Kirchner
Néstor Kirchner
Néstor Carlos Kirchner was an Argentine politician who served as the 54th President of Argentina from 25 May 2003 until 10 December 2007. Previously, he was Governor of Santa Cruz Province since 10 December 1991. He briefly served as Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations ...

, the Ley de Punto Final
Ley de Punto Final
Ley de Punto Final was a law passed by the National Congress of Argentina after the end of the military dictatorship of the Proceso de Reorganización Nacional . Formally, this law is referred to by number Ley de Punto Final (Spanish, roughly translated Full Stop Law) was a law passed by the...

and Ley de Obediencia Debida
Ley de Obediencia Debida
Ley de Obediencia Debida was a law passed by the National Congress of Argentina after the end of the military dictatorship of the Proceso de Reorganización Nacional . Formally, this law is referred to by number Ley de Obediencia Debida (Spanish, Law of Due Obedience) was a law passed by the...

were declared void by Congress, and in 2007 the Supreme Court decided that the pardons were null.

Since 2006, 24 March is a public holiday in Argentina
Public holidays in Argentina
The following are the National public holidays and other observances of Argentina.Though holidays of many faiths are respected, public holidays usually include most Catholic holidays...

, the Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice; that year, on the 30th anniversary of the coup, a multitude filled the streets calling to remember what happened during the military government, and pray it never to happen again.

In 2006, the first trials since the repeal of the "Pardon Laws" began. Miguel Etchecolatz
Miguel Etchecolatz
Miguel Osvaldo Etchecolatz is a former senior Argentine police officer, who worked in the Buenos Aires Provincial Police during the first years of the military dictatorship. Etchecolatz was an active participant in the "anti-subversion operation" known as the National Reorganization Process...

, the police commissioner of the province of Buenos Aires in the 1970s, was the first to face trial for illegal detention, torture and homicide. He was found guilty of six counts of murder, six counts of unlawful imprisonment, and seven counts of torture. A witness in Etchecolatz's trial, Jorge Julio López, went missing hours before he was going to give testimony.

Since then some former Ford Argentine workers have sued the U.S.-based company, alleging that local managers worked with the security forces to detain union members on the premises and torture them. The civil suit against Ford Motor Company and Ford Argentina also calls for four former company executives and a retired military officer to be questioned. According to Pedro Norberto Troiani, one of the plaintiffs, 25 employees were detained in this plant located 40 miles (64.4 km) from Buenos Aires. Ford has been accused since 1998 of involvement in state repression, but has denied the claims. According to several documents, army personnel arrived at the plant on the day of the military coup, 24 March 1976, and disappearances immediately started. In October 2002, DaimlerChrysler
DaimlerChrysler
Daimler AG is a German car corporation. By unit sales, it is the thirteenth-largest car manufacturer and second-largest truck manufacturer in the world. In addition to automobiles, Daimler manufactures buses and provides financial services through its Daimler Financial Services arm...

 had also announced an external investigation into the claims, made by Amnesty International, that 14 union activists had been handed over to Argentina's military during the Dirty War. In May 1973 the ERP claimed to have extorted $1 million in goods from the Ford Motor Company, after murdering one executive and wounding another. Five months after the payment the guerrillas killed another Ford executive and his three bodyguards. Only after Ford had threatened to close down their operation in Argentina altogether did Peron agree to have his army protect the plant.

There has been a long-running debate in Argentina over the issue of amnesty
Amnesty
Amnesty is a legislative or executive act by which a state restores those who may have been guilty of an offense against it to the positions of innocent people, without changing the laws defining the offense. It includes more than pardon, in as much as it obliterates all legal remembrance of the...

 for officials of the Dirty War. A form of amnesty was controversially adopted as law after the reinstatement of democratic rule and the trials of the top military leaders of the juntas in 1984, during Raúl Alfonsín
Raúl Alfonsín
Raúl Ricardo Alfonsín was an Argentine lawyer, politician and statesman, who served as the President of Argentina from December 10, 1983, to July 8, 1989. Alfonsín was the first democratically-elected president of Argentina following the military government known as the National Reorganization...

's presidency (1983–1989), but it has remained unpopular. In June 2005, the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of Argentina
The Supreme Court of Argentina is the highest court of law of the Argentine Republic. It was inaugurated on 15 January 1863. However, during much of the 20th century, the Court and, in general, the Argentine judicial system, has lacked autonomy from the executive power...

 overturned the amnesty laws, called Ley de Punto Final
Ley de Punto Final
Ley de Punto Final was a law passed by the National Congress of Argentina after the end of the military dictatorship of the Proceso de Reorganización Nacional . Formally, this law is referred to by number Ley de Punto Final (Spanish, roughly translated Full Stop Law) was a law passed by the...

("Full Stop
Full stop
A full stop is the punctuation mark commonly placed at the end of sentences. In American English, the term used for this punctuation is period. In the 21st century, it is often also called a dot by young people...

 Law") and of Ley de Obediencia Debida
Ley de Obediencia Debida
Ley de Obediencia Debida was a law passed by the National Congress of Argentina after the end of the military dictatorship of the Proceso de Reorganización Nacional . Formally, this law is referred to by number Ley de Obediencia Debida (Spanish, Law of Due Obedience) was a law passed by the...

("Law of Due Obedience"), opening the door for prosecutions of former junta officials. The Punto Final law had been voted on 24 December 1986, under Alfonsín's presidency, and extinguished any charges for human rights violations for all acts preceding 12 December 1983.

Continuing controversies

On 23 January 1989, in a replay of the previous decade's events, a heavily armed group of around 40 guerrillas, a faction of the Movimiento Todos por la Patria (MTP or All for the Fatherland Movement), attacked the La Tablada army barracks on the outskirts of Buenos Aires in an attempt to "prevent" a military coup. The attack resulted in fierce fighting, with 28 of the guerrillas killed, five disappeared and 13 imprisoned. Eleven police and military died and 53 were wounded in the fighting. The Argentinean president of the time, Raúl Alfonsín
Raúl Alfonsín
Raúl Ricardo Alfonsín was an Argentine lawyer, politician and statesman, who served as the President of Argentina from December 10, 1983, to July 8, 1989. Alfonsín was the first democratically-elected president of Argentina following the military government known as the National Reorganization...

, declared that the attack, with the ultimate goal of sparking a massive popular uprising, could have led to civil war. According to the guerrillas, they felt there was going to be a military coup.

In 1992 and 1994, two bombs devastated the Argentinian Jewish community in Buenos Aires and marked the arrival, for the first time, of Middle Eastern terrorism in Latin America. On 17 March 1992, 29 people were killed and 242 injured when a car bomb exploded in the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires. On 18 July 1994, two years after the bombing of the Israeli Embassy, a bomb exploded in front of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, killing 86 people and wounding several hundred more. While the two cases, which are thought to be related, have been officially under investigation for over 17 years, little progress has been made, and the responsible parties have not yet been apprehended. Argentine president Cristina Kirchner has refused to define the AMIA terrorist attack as a crime against humanity since this could be turned against various ex-Montonero members now serving in her administration that are linked to terrorism. George Karim Chaya, a journalist and political analyst, in 2009 told a group of relatives of victims of the left wing terrorism that both attacks were conducted by Hezbollah and Montoneros terrorists. All initial suspects in the attack, including policemen and ex-carapintadas were later found not to be not guilty in 2004 and federal judge Juan José Galeano, in charge of the case, was impeached and removed from his post for having paid $400,000 to a suspect, Carlos Telleldín, to falsely accuse police officers of being involved in the plot.

In 2001, Jorge Zorreguieta
Jorge Zorreguieta
Jorge Horacio Zorreguieta Stefanini is a former politician from Argentina. He was Minister of Agriculture in the regime of General Jorge Rafael Videla...

, a civilian who was former Undersecretary of Agriculture in the Videla regime, became the focus of attention when his daughter Máxima became engaged to the Prince of Orange
Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange
Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange is the eldest child of Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus. Since 1980 he is the heir apparent to the throne of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. He is also the head of the House of Amsberg since the death of his father in 2002. He was in military service and he studied...

. The significance of his potential connection to the Dutch Royal Family, and his possible presence at a royal wedding was hotly debated for several months. Zorreguieta claimed that, as a civilian, he was unaware of the Dirty War while he was a cabinet minister. Professor Baud, who on request of the Dutch government did an inquiry in the involvement of Zorreguieta, concluded that would it have been unlikely for a person in such a powerful position in the government to be unaware of the Dirty War. Formal charges have never been brought against him, but he was banned from attending the royal wedding which was held in Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 on 2 February 2002. A 2007 documentary about the kidnapping and presumed death of Marta Sierra, a biologist working for the INTA, suggests Jorge Zorregueta's complicity in the crime.

Under Néstor Kirchner
Néstor Kirchner
Néstor Carlos Kirchner was an Argentine politician who served as the 54th President of Argentina from 25 May 2003 until 10 December 2007. Previously, he was Governor of Santa Cruz Province since 10 December 1991. He briefly served as Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations ...

's term as president, the Argentine Congress revoked a pair of longstanding amnesty laws that had protected hundreds of officers, regardless of rank, from prosecution for the kidnapping, torture and killing of guerrillas and critics of the military regime. Throughout her presidency, Cristina Kirchner has vigorously maintained her prosecution of the military officers responsible for the disappearances. The effort to prosecute junior officers has divided Argentine politicians, former lieutenant-colonel Aldo Rico, a conservative opposition leader and Falklands/Malvinas War hero among those arguing that it is counterproductive to "return to the past." "The subversive terrorists committed their killings in a systematic manner" federal legislator Nora Ginzburg, representing 677 affidavits concerning civilians and servicemen killed in leftist terrorist acts, wrote in an article published in Nueva Provincia newspaper. "They possessed a military structure, specific units, and had their flag and logo", wrote Ginzburg.

On 14 December 2007, some 200 soldiers who fought against the rural guerrillas in Tucumán province demanded an audience with the governor of Tucumán Province, José Jorge Alperovich, claiming they too were victims of the "Dirty War", and demanded a government sponsored military pension as veterans of the counter-insurgency campaign in northern Argentina.

In February 2010, a German court issued an international arrest warrant for former dictator Jorge Videla in connection with the death of 20-year-old Rolf Stawowiok, a German citizen who was born in Argentina while his father was doing development work, disappeared on 21 February 1978, after leaving the Argentine factory where he was then working as a chemist. His father, Desiderius Stawowiok, said that Rolf was not active in the Argentine underground but was a sympathiser of the urban Montoneros guerrilla, which was largely destroyed under Videla.

Casualty estimates

The often quoted figure of 30,000 disappeared in Argentina first appeared in the Montreal Gazette, in an interview with Cecilia Guevara, sister of the slain guerrilla commander Ernesto "Che" Guevara, who stated in an interview in May 1980 that, in Argentina alone, more 30,000 people had disappeared and another 15,000 had been imprisoned. The New York Times reporter David Vidal wrote on 5 January 1979 that the number of disappeared in Latin America as a whole now numbered 30,000. The Christian Science Monitor and The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe is an American daily newspaper based in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Globe has been owned by The New York Times Company since 1993...

soon followed suit with similar stories, claiming 30,000 people had disappeared under military dictatorships in Latin America and not only in Argentina. The Los Angeles Times repeated the claims of 30,000 Latin Americans and not just Argentines, disappeared in a new article published in October 1979 and November of that year.

The Nunca Más report issued by the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons (CONADEP) in 1984, made a list of 8,961 persons "disappeared" between 1976 and 1983, in a case by case verification, and another list of 1,300 victims seen alive in clandestine detention centers. The report explains that they are "open lists", because "we know also that many disappearings had not been denounced".

In 1977, General Albano Harguindeguy, Interior Minister, admitted that 5,618 people disappeared in the form of PEN detenidos-desaparecidos were being held in detention camps throughout Argentina. According to a secret cable from DINA (Chilean secret police) in Buenos Aires, an estimate by the Argentine 601st Intelligence Battalion in mid-July 1978, which started counting victims in 1975, gave the figure of 22,000 persons – this document was first published by John Dinges
John Dinges
John Dinges was special correspondent for Time, Washington Post and ABC Radio in Chile. With a group of Chilean journalists, he cofounded the Chilean magazine APSI...

 in 2004.

In 1979, US President Jimmy Carter offered to accept 3,000 disappeared in the form of PEN detainees, as long as they had no terrorist background. The total number of disappeared in the form of PEN prisoners was 8,625 and of these disappeared 157 were killed after being released from detention. According to the official count of the 1984 truth commission, between 1976 and 1979, 8,353 Argentineans were killed or "disappeared", and other 113 were killed or disappeared at the hands of the military regime between 1980 and 1983. The number is certainly higher since the 1984 truth commission counted only documented cases. Human Rights Groups in Argentina often cite a figure of 30,000 disappeared, Amnesty International estimates 20,000 while other observers think 12,000 is a more accurate figure. In 1988, the Asamblea por los Derechos Humanos (APDH or Assembly for Human Rights) published its findings on the disappearances and stated that 12,261 people were killed or disappeared during the Dirty War. The Montoneros admitted losing 5,000 guerrillas killed, and the ERP admitted 5,000 of their own guerrillas had been killed. By comparison, Argentine security forces cite 523 deaths of their own between 1969 and 1975 and 205 deaths between 1976 and 1978. There were 16,000 victims of left-wing terrorism
Left-wing terrorism
Left-wing terrorism, sometimes called Marxist-Leninist terrorism or revolutionary/left-wing terrorism is a tactic used to overthrow capitalism and replace it with Marxist-Leninist or socialist government.-Ideology:...

 in Argentina, including civilians and military personnel. There is no agreement on the actual number of detenidos-desaparecidos. In a 2009 interview with the Buenos Aires daily newspaper Clarín, Graciela Fernández Meijide, who formed part of the 1984 truth commission, claimed that the documented number of Argentines killed or disappeared was closer to 9,000. Between 1969 and 1979, left-wing guerrillas accounted for 3,249 kidnappings and murders. CONADEP also recorded 458 assassinations (attributed to the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance) and about 600 forced disappearances during the period of democratic rule between 1973 and 1976.

In a final report televised on 28 April 1983 as the military prepared their departure, the ruling junta officially declared that the disappeared were all dead but declared to have saved the nation. Human Rights Group condemned the junta's final report and claimed at the time, that between 6,000 and 15,000 people had disappeared in Argentina between 1975 and 1979. Some 11,000 Argentines have applied for and received up to US$200,000 as monetary compensation for the loss of loved ones during the military dictatorship.

Alleged participation of members of the Catholic Church

On 15 April 2005, a human rights lawyer filed a criminal complaint against Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio, accusing him of conspiring with the junta in 1976 to kidnap two Jesuit
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 priests. So far, no hard evidence has been presented linking the cardinal to this crime. It is known that the cardinal headed the Society of Jesus of Argentina in 1976 and had asked the two priests to leave their pastoral work following conflict within the Society over how to respond to the new military dictatorship, with some priests advocating a violent overthrow. The cardinal's spokesman flatly denied the allegations.

A priest, Christian von Wernich, chaplain of the Buenos Aires Province Police while it was under the command of General Ramón Camps
Ramón Camps
Ramón Juan Camps was an Argentine general and the head of the Buenos Aires Provincial Police during the military dictatorship known as the National Reorganization Process...

 during the dictatorship, with the rank of inspector. On 9 October 2007 he was found guilty of complicity in 7 homicides, 42 kidnappings, and 32 instances of torture, and sentenced to life imprisonment
Life imprisonment
Life imprisonment is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime under which the convicted person is to remain in jail for the rest of his or her life...

.

Some Catholic priests sympathized with and helped the Montoneros. Radical priests, including Father Alberto Carbone, who was eventually indicted in the murder of Aramburu, preached Marxism and presented the early Church fathers as model revolutionaries in an attempt to legitimize the violence. A Catholic youth leader, Juan Ignacio Isla Casares, with the help of the Montoneros commander Eduardo Pereyra Rossi (nom de guerre "Carlón") was the mastermind behind the ambush and killing of five policemen near San Isidro Cathedral on 26 October 1975. Mario Firmenich, who later became the leader of the Montoneros, was the ex-president of the Catholic Action Youth Group and a former seminarian himself. The Montoneros had ties with the Third World Priest Movement and a Jesuit priest, Father Carlos Mugica, SJ. The Third World Priest Movement believed that the Church could not remain neutral in the conflict between the Peronist and anti-Peronists and a number of priests participated in the armed struggle.

Books

  • Dirty Secrets, Dirty War: The Exile of Editor Robert J. Cox, by David Cox (2008).
  • The Ministry of Special Cases, by Nathan Englander (2007), novel.
  • La Historia Official (English: The Official Story), by Nicolás Márquez (2006), revisionist critique.
  • Guerrillas and Generals: The Dirty War in Argentina, by Paul H. Lewis (2001).
  • Suite argentina (English: Argentine Suite. Translated by Donald A. Yates. Online: Words Without Borders, October 2010) Four short stories by Edgar Brau
    Edgar Brau
    - Biography :Edgar Brau was born in Argentina. He engaged in different occupations: he was an actor, a stage director, a painter of icons, a photographer, until he completely devoted himself to writing literature...

     (2000).
  • God's Assassins: State Terrorism in Argentina in the 1970s by M. Patricia Marchak (1999).
  • A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture, by Marguerite Feitlowitz (1999).
  • Una sola muerte numerosa (English: A Single, Numberless Death), by Nora Strejilevich (1997).
  • The Flight: Confessions of an Argentine Dirty Warrior, by Horacio Verbitsky
    Horacio Verbitsky
    Horacio Verbitsky is a prominent Argentine investigative journalist and author. He writes for the left-leaning Argentine newspaper Página/12 and heads up the Center for Legal and Social Studies , an Argentine human-rights organization.He is also a member of the Directive Board of Human Rights...

     (1996).
  • Argentina's Lost Patrol: Armed Struggle, 1969–1979, by María José Moyano (1995).
  • Dossier Secreto: Argentina's Desaparecidos and the Myth of the "Dirty War", by Martin Edwin Anderson (1993).
  • Argentina's "Dirty War": An Intellectual Biography, by Donald C. Hodges (1991).
  • Behind the Disappearances: Argentina's Dirty War Against Human Rights and the United Nations, by Iain Guest (1990).
  • The Little School: Tales of Disappearance & Survival in Argentina, by Alicia Partnoy (1989).
  • Argentina, 1943–1987: The National Revolution and Resistance, by Donald C. Hodges (1988).
  • Soldiers of Perón: Argentina's Montoneros, by Richard Gillespie (1982).
  • Guerrilla warfare in Argentina and Colombia, 1974–1982, by Bynum E. Weathers, Jr. (1982).
  • Prisoner without a Name, Cell without a Number, by Jacobo Timerman
    Jacobo Timerman
    Jacobo Timerman was an Argentine publisher, journalist, and author who was persecuted and honored for confronting the atrocities of the Argentine military regime's Dirty War...

     (1981).
  • Guerrilla politics in Argentina, by Kenneth F. Johnson (1975).

Film

  • A Wall of Silence
    A Wall of Silence
    A Wall of Silence is a 1993 Argentine drama film starring Vanessa Redgrave. The film concerns a turbulent period in Argentine history, the National Reorganization Process as well as the responsibility of artists in engaging and interpreting human stories from this period. It was directed by Lita...

    (1993) Directed by Lita Stantic
    Lita Stantic
    Élida Stantic , and more commonly known and credited as Lita Stantic, is an Argentine cinema producer, screenplay writer, and director....

  • Cautiva
    Cautiva
    Cautiva is a 2005 Argentine film that concerns itself with what happened to the children of the people killed after the 1970s military coup. The film states it was made with the support of Argentine National Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts...

    (2003). Directed by Gaston Biraben. Movie related to the "stolen babies" case
  • Imagining Argentina
    Imagining Argentina (film)
    Imagining Argentina is a 2003 film directed and written by Christopher Hampton. The movie was nominated for the "Golden Lion" award at the 2003 Venice Film Festival...

    (2003). Directed by Christopher Hampton
    Christopher Hampton
    Christopher James Hampton CBE, FRSL is a British playwright, screen writer and film director. He is best known for his play based on the novel Les Liaisons dangereuses and the film version Dangerous Liaisons and also more recently for writing the nominated screenplay for the film adaptation of...

    .
  • Olympic Garage (1999). Directed by Marco Bechis
    Marco Bechis
    Marco Bechis is a Chilean-Italian film screenwriter and director. His film Garage Olimpo was screened at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section.-Selected filmography:* Alambrado...

    .
  • The Official Story
    The Official Story
    The Official Story is a 1985 Argentine drama film directed by Luis Puenzo, and written by Puenzo and Aída Bortnik. It stars Norma Aleandro, Héctor Alterio, and Chunchuna Villafañe, among others. In the United Kingdom, it was released as The Official Version.The film is about an upper middle class...

    (1985). Directed by Luis Puenzo
    Luis Puenzo
    Luis Adalberto Puenzo is an Argentine film director, producer and screenplay writer.He works mainly in the cinema of Argentina, but has also worked in the United States.-Biography:...

    . Movie related to the "stolen babies" case
  • Kamchatka
    Kamchatka (film)
    Kamchatka is an Argentine and Spanish drama film directed by Marcelo Piñeyro and written by Piñeyro and Marcelo Figueras. The movie features Ricardo Darín, Cecilia Roth, Tomás Fonzi, Héctor Alterio, among others....

    (2002). Directed by Marcelo Piñeyro
    Marcelo Piñeyro
    Marcelo Piñeyro is an Argentine award-winning film director, screenwriter, and film producer.-Biography:Born in Buenos Aires, Piñeyro studied cinematography at the University of La Plata's School of Fine Arts...

    .
  • The Disappeared (2007). Directed by Peter Sanders.
  • Los Escuadrones De La Muerte (the Death Squadron, Escadrons de la mort), l'école française, by Marie-Monique Robin
    Marie-Monique Robin
    Marie-Monique Robin is an award-winning French journalist. She received the Albert Londres Prize in 1995 for Voleurs d'yeux, an expose about organ theft...

     (book and film)
  • Our Disappeared / Nuestros Desaparecidos
    Our Disappeared
    Our Disappeared / Nuestros Desaparecidos is a documentary film about the desaparecidos in Argentina. Written, produced and directed by Juan Mandelbaum. It is in English and Spanish with English subtitles. Another version of the film exists in Spanish and English with Spanish subtitles...

     (2008). Directed by Juan Mandelbaum.
  • Night of the Pencils
    Night of the Pencils (film)
    Night of the Pencils is an Argentine drama film directed by Héctor Olivera and written by Olivera and Daniel Kon. It is based on the non-fiction book by María Seoane and Héctor Ruiz Núñez....

    (1986) Directed by Héctor Olivera
    Héctor Olivera
    Héctor Olivera is a film director, producer and screenwriter.He works mainly in the cinema of Argentina, but has contributed to numerous films in the United States.-Biography:...

    .
  • Crónica de una fuga (2006). Directed by Israel Adrián Caetano. Movie related to the "Mansión Sere" case.

See also

  • Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic
  • Films depicting Latin American military dictatorships
    Films depicting Latin American military dictatorships
    This is a list of movies that, in one way or another, are closely related to the military dictatorships in Latin America that appeared during the context of the Cold War.-Argentina:* Funny Little Dirty War * The Official Story...

  • Jorge Eduardo Acosta
    Jorge Eduardo Acosta
    Jorge Eduardo Acosta , alias "el Tigre" was an Argentine captain of corvette, head of the Work Group 3.3.2 of the ESMA naval school and in charge of this detention center during the Dirty War. He was allegedly the one taking decisions concerning torture and assassinations in the ESMA center...

  • Maria Eugenia Sampallo
    Maria Eugenia Sampallo
    Maria Eugenia Sampallo is an Argentinian known for being the first person to take a couple who illegally adopted her as a baby to court for kidnapping her when her parents disappeared along with thousands of others in a military purge of radicals, dissidents and leftist sympathizers, known as the...

  • Operation Gladio
    Operation Gladio
    Operation Gladio is the codename for a clandestine NATO "stay-behind" operation in Italy after World War II. Its purpose was to continue anti-communist actions in the event of a shift to a Communist party led government...


External links

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