8 men accused of torture and murder in Argentina’s “dirty war” have been sentenced to 18 years to life in prison for their actions. 18 years might not seem like much, but it’s significant if you are already 80 years old like ex-general Luciano Menendez:
Menendez commanded the army zone that ran La Perla, the biggest clandestine detention center in central Cordoba province, during the 1976-1983 dictatorship in which rights groups say up to 30,000 people died or disappeared.
“He was the main perpetrator behind the reign of terror our province lived under 30 years ago. He sowed death and terror, committing crimes against humanity,” Cordoba Governor Juan Schiaretti told local television after the sentencing.
Upon sentencing, Menendez was defiant. Reuters quotes him as saying: “Terrorists used to be illegal. Now they have taken over the system and pretend to be peaceful, law-abiding citizens who respect the constitution.”
What can you say about creeps like this? Even at the eleventh hour he refuses to take responsibility…incredible.
Las Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo, an Argentine activist group fighting for justice in the disappearance cases of hundreds of Argentine citizens — many children and pregnant women — during the country’s “Dirty War” have been nominated for a 2008 Nobel Peace Prize
…for their fight to give restore the identity of some 500 children stolen during the last dictatorship, in an act before congress.
Estella Carlotto, president of the organization, in a speech about the candidacy, said: “We are regular women among the thousands of Argentine women who do not back down in desperate situations…Each grandchild we get back is like a Nobel Prize.”
The last Nobel Peace Prize for Argentina was in 1980, for activist Adolfo Pérez Esquivel.
39 years ago today, hundreds — perhaps thousands — of student protesters were murdered by their government in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas, center of the Tlatelolco neighborhood in Mexico City. Most of the dead — the “disappeared” — were never recovered by their families and nearly 40 years later, the Mexican government still refuses to punish the perpetrators or look for retribution for the victims’ families.
On this October 2nd, let us not forget what happened on that October 2, 1968, when peaceful protesters died exercising their right to manifest dissent.
You can see more of our coverage of stories related to the Tlatelolco Massacre here.
Nearly a month after the 31st anniversary of a military coup which would change Argentina’s history, an Argentine federal court ruled today to overturn a pardon for two military officials, former General Jorge Videla and former Admiral Emilio Massera, accused of perpetrating crimes against dissidents during the course of Argentina’s “dirty war” military dictatorship in the 1970s. Sentenced to life in prison in 1985, former president of Argentina Carlos Menem later pardoned the two in 1990.
Earlier this year we told you about new evidence proving that the Mexican government under presidents Díaz Ordaz and Echeverríaordered the mass murder of thousands of dissidents during the country’s “dirty war” period in the 1960s and early 1970s. At that time, it was uncertain whether the state would be able to prosecute the aging Echeverría due to statutes of limitations. Now, in a final victory for Vicente Fox‘s outgoing administration (wow, he did one thing right), prosecuters have been cleared to arrest and try the 84-year old ex-president:
From the start, Ignacio Carrillo Prieto, the special prosecutor appointed to look into the dirty war, has pursued genocide charges under Mexican law in an effort to hold military and government officials responsible for the student massacre in 1968 and another in 1971. Some critics have said that to try to apply the genocide law to students as a group is a far-fetched legal approach that is bound to fail.
That criticism seemed to have been borne out last year when a lower court judge threw out the genocide charges against Mr. Echeverría, ruling that Mexico’s 30-year statute of limitations for mass murder had run out and that students could not be defined as a unified group under the genocide law.
A follow-up to Monday’s story, “La Guerra Sucia: Mexico was not immune”, Mexico’s El Universal newspaper is reporting on the specific torture methods used in Mexico, known as the “Catalog of Torture”. The announcement was part of the Mexican special prosecutor’s press conference, held today, which brought to light a “censored” version of the report we talked about on Monday.
Not for the faint of heart, I’ve translated some highlights from the El Universal article:
“El pocito” (“the little well”) consisted in bringing the person to the verge of death by asphyxia.
“El pollo rostizado” (“the roasted chicken”) involved tying the subject’s hands and feet and placing him on a stake, with a cord tied to his genitals. The individual would have to be careful with his balance so as not to lose his “private parts”.
For those of you that think that “la guerra sucia” — the “dirty war” — only occurred in South America, think again. While perhaps not as widespread and surely not as publicized, police and government engaged in tortuous acts and murder against regular Mexican citizens who were thought to be enemies of the state. The BBC talks about a report produced for President Fox’s eyes only, but leaked by an American NGO:
A US NGO has printed material saying Mexicans had a right to know.
The army kidnapped, tortured and killed hundreds of rebel suspects, says the report, which covers 1964 to 1982.