Saturday, April 14, 2012

Videla justifies killing 8,000

"In every war people are crippled, killed and disappeared, their whereabouts unknown, that is a fact," Videla said in an interview broadcast on local television.
"How many there were can be debated, but the problem does not lie in the number but in the fact - a fact which occurs in every war - that we allowed the pejorative term of disappeared to ... remain as a term to cover up something dark that was wanted to be kept secret, and that is what is weighing - that there was something dark which has not been sufficiently cleared up."
"The error was using and abusing disappeared like a mystery," he added. "And that's not the case, it is the unfortunate result of a war."
Videla denied that babies were systematically stolen from leftist opponents and then put up for adoption, but said there were some cases in which babies were taken.
"I am the first to admit ... at this time children were taken, some with the best intention that the child would go to a good, unknown home," Videla added in the interview. "But it was not a systematic plan."
Human rights groups say up to 30,000 people were kidnapped and murdered or vanished during the dictatorship, which began when Videla and two other military leaders staged a coup on March 24, 1976.
"Let's say there were 7,000 or 8,000 people who needed to die to win the war against subversion," newspaper La Nacion quoted Videla as saying in a new book "Final Mandate," by journalist Ceferino Reato, based on a series of interviews with Videla.
"There was no other solution," La Nacion reported Videla as saying. "We were agreed that was the price to win the war against subversion and that we needed it not to be evident so that society didn't notice."
"For that reason, to avoid provoking protests inside and outside the country, it was decided that those people disappear. Each disappearance can certainly be understood as the cover-up of a death."
This is most of the Reuters summary of developments surrounding former dictator Jorge Rafael Videla in Argentina ex-dictator admits dirty war "disappeared". I normally don't cut and paste such long excerpts but I made an exception this time. These are some pretty remarkable admissions.

Honestly, I thought that Efrain Rios Montt would say much the same in Guatemala. His "voluntary" appearance before the authorities would lead to some Colonel Jessup moment where he admits to what he has done but doesn't apologize for it. It's still possible, but it is growing increasingly unlikely as he and his lawyers stick with the bad apples defense and repeated efforts to remove court officials.

1 comment:

  1. Obviously I can't read Videla's mind (I'd hardly want to!) but my feeling is that he is being partially candid. His comments that the coup itself was not militarily necessary and the view of the disappeared as essentially collateral damage... That kind of rings true for me. But I think he is still being less than truthful with regard to the disappeared children. There may not have been a masterplan to start with, but I think there did end up being a systematic plan to keep pregnant prisoners alive and then give away/sell their babies to "deserving families". Then there's the issue of the sexual abuse of (particularly female) prisoners. Then an issue which is often overlooked: the looting and stealing of the prisoners' belongings. Videla and his like never go into these aspects because they don't fit in with the "war" picture they try to paint. He is trying to frame it in this way and I think there is a danger that we might say, well, that was all really bad, but still end up partially accepting his viewpoint that there was a battleground-type situation, rather than the State persecuting certain groups.