Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Argentina: Complicity at the fore in new trial

As Argentina has recently made progress by condemning some of the key figures of its dictatorship, such as Jorge Videla (although there's still a long way to go), the focus of attention has broadened somewhat. Human rights groups including HIJOS - the children of the disappeared - have been organising this year under the slogan "los grupos económicos también fueron la dictadura" (the economic groups were the dictatorship too), i.e. focusing on complicity.

Now a new trial is bring this issue even more to the fore. Carlos Pedro Blaquier, president of sugar company Ledesma since 1970, is accused of involvement in the disappearance of 30 people.

As I understand it, the case will focus on the events of the "Noche del Apagón" (Night of the blackout) on 27 July 1976 - or more accurately, the nights in the week running up to that date. During those nights, the electricity was switched off in the town of Libertador General San Martín (also known as Ledesma), Calilegua and El Talar. Police and members of the armed forces then went through the towns and arrested and took away large numbers of people, some of whom remain disappeared. There are accusations that they used trucks belonging to the company Ledesma and also that foremen were involved in the repression.

Another of the disappeared from the town was Luis Arédez, a doctor who had at one time worked for Ledesma but was dismissed for "giving out too many medicines to the employees" (yes, that does sound like a bad joke). He was disappeared in May 1977. His wife, Olga del Valle Márquez de Arédez, became a human rights activist and testified before the CONADEP truth commission. She died in 2005 - many sources say of the consequences of bagassosis, a lung disease caused by inhaling molasses dust. 

Blaquier denies lending company vehicles to the security forces. He has also complained of aggressive behaviour by protesters who shouted threats and thumped on the car he was travelling in. Leader of the social organisation Tupuc Amaru, Milagro Sala, responded scornfully that he is attempting to turn himself into the victim, rather than the perpetrator.

Anyway, there seems to be relatively little information in English on this issue, so I hope this is helpful for someone. The trial starts tomorrow; I can't promise I'll be following it day to day but I'll try to post the big news!

Blaquier negó haber participado en la represión (El Dia)
Milagro Sala: "Blaquier quiere pasar de acusado a víctima" (Telam)


El horror de “La Noche del Apagón” (Clarin)
Olga Aredez, sinónimo de memoria, verdad y justicia en Jujuy (Telam)
The case against Argentinean sugar company Ledesma (ECCHR)

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