Home World ‘Justification of dictatorship’: Outcry as Milei rewrites Argentina’s history

‘Justification of dictatorship’: Outcry as Milei rewrites Argentina’s history

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'Justification of dictatorship': Outcry as Milei rewrites Argentina's history

HHuman rights groups in Argentina have sounded the alarm over President Javier Milei’s attempts to rewrite history on the eve of the annual day commemorating thousands of victims of the country’s brutal dictatorship from 1976 to 1983.

Thousands of protesters will take to the streets on Sunday to mark Argentina’s Day of Remembrance of Truth and Justice, a holiday commemorating the 30,000 victims of the dictatorship, called “desaparecidos“. It is usually on this date that the biggest protests of the year take place in Argentina, with millions of citizens taking to the streets of the country to declare:Nothing more” (Never again).

However, this March 24 will be different because it will be the first under Milei, a far-right libertarian who has consistently denied Argentines’ long-standing consensus on the crimes of the dictatorship.

“There weren’t 30,000,” Milei said provocatively during a presidential debate before his electoral triumph last November. “For us, in the 70s, there was a war where excesses were committed.”

Many Argentine media outlets have reported that the government plans to release a video presenting its “official version” of what happened during the dictatorship before the March 24 mobilizations. The video reportedly contains an interview with Luis Labraña, a former member of the Peronist organization Montoneros, who claimed to have “invented” the figure of 30,000. Some journalists also claimed that the government was considering pardoning imprisoned regime officials, although Milei and his vice-president, Victoria Villarruel, denied it.

Lucía García Itzigsohn, daughter of two children desaparecidos, said: “We are very worried. Beyond our political positioning and the fact that history affects us personally, this implies breaking the democratic pact.”

“President Javier Milei and the highest authorities in the country are repeating forms of denialism and relativism of state terrorism,” the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), a rights organization, said in a statement. of man founded in 1979.

Villarruel has been even more outspoken in his defense of Argentina’s former military leaders. She is the niece of Ernesto Guillermo Villarruel, who was in charge of the clandestine detention center in Vesubio during the dictatorship. Like Milei, she said the dictatorship was “a war” between “terrorists” and the armed forces.

Ezequiel Adamovsky said such ideas were marginal in the 1990s, when only small far-right groups put guerrilla crimes on the same level as those committed by the military regime, but have become somewhat normalized under President Mauricio Macri. But he warned that the Argentine right has further radicalized its discourse on dictatorship. “What we are talking about now is no longer Holocaust denial, it is directly a justification of dictatorship,” Adamovsky said.

Analysts and human rights groups warn that this speech has consequences: CELS said tributes were now being paid in military barracks to regime officials convicted of crimes against humanity, with approval of political authorities.

On Wednesday, the Hijos organization, founded by the children of desaparecidos – reported that one of its activists was tied up, beaten and sexually assaulted in her home, in what they called a “politically motivated attack”.

The attackers painted “VLLC” on one of the walls, the acronym for Milei’s slogan “Long live freedom, carajo» (“Long live freedom, damn it”). “We are here to kill you,” they allegedly told him.

“Hate speech is fertile ground for violent actions and crimes,” tweeted the campaign group Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, created in 1977 by grandmothers searching for their grandchildren, born in captivity and kidnapped by the dictatorship, and often raised in military families. .

Hijos member García Itzigsohn said Milei did not call the victim or the organization to condemn the attack. Nor has he done so publicly.

Additionally, Milei’s chief digital strategist during his presidential campaign, Fernando Cerimedo, claimed on X that the attack was a fabrication. “People want the truth,” Cerimedo said in an interview. “And (the fact that there are) 30,000 is a lie.”

Adamovsky said questioning the number was “an act of bad faith.” “This figure is an estimate that was made with the very little information available at the time,” he said, adding that military documents declassified in 2006 revealed that the army had disappeared or killed nearly 22,000 people between 1975 and 1978, a figure five years before the end of the dictatorship.

Due to the illegal nature of the repression and the fact that there has been a pact of silence within the army, the exact figure cannot be reached, Adamovsky said. “The right is exploiting the apparent discrepancy between reported cases and the symbolic number to imply that human rights groups are lying,” he added.

This week, Milei’s Defense Minister, Luis Petri, appeared in a photo with the wives of imprisoned dictatorship officials, who are demanding the release of their husbands. Argentina held its first trial against such criminals in 1985, and these trials are still taking place today. A spokesperson for the minister said Petri appeared in the photo “by chance” and spoke with them for “less than two seconds”.

García Itzigsohn said Argentines would not back down despite government provocations. “There are 40 years of democratic tradition in our country that cannot be thrown away just because these people have a provocative style,” she said. “There are regulations, there are laws, and there will also be people who will march on March 24 to make it very clear to them. »

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