The national reorganizational process began with the coup d'état to President María Estela Martínez de Perón on March 24, 1976 and culminated with the delivery of the government, through democratic elections, to the newly elected candidate Raúl Alfonsín on December 10, 1983. The dictatorship or the Military Board commanded by the head of the army, Jorge Rafael Videla; the one of the Navy, Emilio Eduardo Massera; and that of the air forces, Orlando Ramón Agosti, had the objective of establishing total control in the midst of a chaotic social reality called subversion.
In the context of the Cold War, the global struggle, not only between the United States and the Soviet Union but around the globe, was divided between the right and the left. The case of Latin America in the Southern Cone, mainly that of Argentina, is the one we will deal with here. The denunciations of violent political crimes were daily news internationally, the subversive element of the Peronism had reached unacceptable levels in the eyes of the nations committed to exterminate it. Peronism already had a large number of allegations of crimes against humanity and political persecution before the coup; the violence did not start with this, but it became more acute and transformed the country into a totalitarian regime.
The school of the Americas, located in Panama, was one of the essential elements for training the Latin American armed forces with the support of countries such as France, which already had the Algerian experience as its base. Through this training certain methods of interrogation, various forms of infiltration to terrorist cells and measures that would create terror to discourage people from participating in the resistance became known and established.
Once Raul Alfonsin was elected, new initiatives were established for memory and justice: the National Commission on Enforced Disappearance or CONADEP, the Mothers Association of Plaza de Mayo, H.I.J.O.S., the former ESMA or School of Mechanics of the Navy, Trial to the Boards of 1983 and the persecution of criminals against humanity, which continue to be condemned by the international and Argentine courts. Thanks to these initiatives is that today we have an idea, to some extent detailed, of the events that took place during the last Argentine dictatorship.
It should also be mentioned that there were many efforts to denounce and stop the crimes committed by the country's authorities. The first denunciations before international organizations were made public through Amnesty International, an organization that sent a commission in 1976. Later, in 1979, the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights paid a visit to the country. Both found the Argentine State guilty of crimes against humanity. Likewise, lawyers, representatives of human rights and civilians’ residents interposed legal measures for the protection of the detainees and the clarification of their whereabouts and conditions. All these measures were unsuccessful, and it was only after the loss of the Falklands War and the obvious need to surrender the government that it could put a stop to the political persecution.
The relatives of the detainees asked incessantly for them in the different police stations, presented habeas corpus and, if they ran with any luck, they could bring food and clothes. This is how the organization of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo was created. Every day mothers would cross in these places asking about their children. "I've seen you before," "you were asking for your son a few days ago." It was not long before they began to gather to join forces, make an appearance and shout, despite the risk to their own integrity, demanding satisfactory answers. After the passage of time, they no longer asked about the whereabouts of their relatives but about the circumstances of their deaths.
Given the testimonies of the victims, we can establish that sexual violence, appropriation or theft of children, "death flights", enforced disappearance and torture were the main crimes of the Military Board against civilians. However, crimes such as alteration of the evidence and arrest of minors, among many others, were always the order of the day. The kidnapping by people dressed in civilian or uniformed, always armed, happened, generally, in the homes of people (62%), during the night (62%), although there were also many cases in which they were carried out on the street (24.6%). The Clandestine Detention Centers or C.C.D. (for its initials in Spanish) they were the places where terror happened. The emblematic vehicle of the dictatorship was the Ford Falcon because in this type of car people were transferred from the place of capture to the C.C.D. established in the corresponding region. The people were partitioned, that is, their eyes were covered, they were tied and put in the trunk. The operations were extensive and each night new guests arrived at the facilities to be tortured, with the aim of softening them and then becoming prisoners.
There were many forms of torture and treatment of victims. Among the main ones was the prod: electricity applied directly to the most sensitive parts of the body such as the genitals, armpits, breasts and feet. It was common for the sessions to use water to extend the effect. Rapes were also common, both in men and women, with varied objects and techniques. Beating and degrading treatment was directed at Jewish people. The prisoners were housed in extremely small rooms in degrading conditions of dirt and overcrowding. Also, the guards left them suspended from their hands for hours, in such a way that they could never rest. Pregnant women (3%) did not run with better luck: many of them attended the births of their partners in the presence of medical personnel that induced deliveries, performed unnecessary cesareans, raped women and snatched their children. For 2006 only 25 of the 172 children that are known with certainty that they were born in the C.C.D. They have been identified by the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Many died. The others were given up for adoption without the consent of the parents.
The medical staff cared for pregnant women, people suffering from diseases associated with torture and ill-treatment, but was also present during the interrogations to ensure that people did not die untimely, but resisted to continue being violated. Once the detainees stopped being useful, they were drugged and taken to cargo planes in the early hours of the morning to be thrown into the sea during a flight of approximately one hour. The corpses appeared floating on the shores of Mar del Plata, but the official report said that the cause had been the armed confrontation against the state authority.
The disappeared and those killed by violence are still among us, figures are not stopped worldwide, genocides do not stop, wars do not stop. Within the framework of this story many questions arise that are still valid now in other countries: why do totalitarian governments continue to see themselves as a solution to disorder and violence? Do we not have enough evidence to validly infer that the response to conflicts is not violence or oppression? Why do not international human rights bodies carry out binding actions? Why when they do they have other interests in the middle? For me, no answer is satisfactory because it does not change the results. Despite having more than two millennia of thinkers, activists, politicians in our history we still summarize violence and horror as a society. I ask you: when will we be ready for a real reorganization, this time international?
ASOCIACIÓN AMERICANA DE JURISTAS. 1998. Juicios a los militares. Documentos secretos, decretos, leyes y jurisprudencia del Juicio a las Juntas militares argentinas. Cuadernos número 4. Web site
CIDH. 1980. Informe sobre la situación de derechos humanos en la Argentina. Web site. Consultado el 24 de abril de 2016.
CONADEP. 2013. Nunca más. Buenos Aires: Eudeba.
ROBIN, M. 2004. Escadrons de la Morte. École Française. Paris: La Découverte. RODRÍGUEZ, M. 2004. Juicio a las Juntas. El Nuremberg argentino. Buenos Aires.