Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Argentina: Former Ford employees charged

An Argentine judge has ordered the trial of two former executives and the ex-head of security at Ford in Argentina on charges of illegal deprivation of liberty.

Pedro Müller, Guillermo Galárraga and Héctor Sibilla are accused of involvement in the abduction of 24 workers in 1976, during the early months of the military regime. They are said to have given the military lists of employees. They are also accused of having allowed the creation of a detention centre on the factory site in Pacheco. The former president of Ford Argentina, Nicolás Courard, was also part of the original case but he died in Chile in 1989.

According to judge Alicia Vence,

The violation of human rights was not exclusively the preserve of state agents but was realised with the collaboration of private actors, and in particular of companies which participate, assist and facilitate such acts as economic actors, as long as the violation benefits their economic interests. 
The factory, in the province of Buenos Aires, produced the Ford Falcon which became an icon of repression in the country.

This case will be interesting because of links between the Argentine junta and big business, of which Ford is not the only example (see also here). Economic complicity has not been pursued much, probably for a combination of reasons: other priorities, difficulties of proving it, continuing influence of large companies in the country. Some human rights groups may have been wary of accusations of politicisation (while others, of course, actively embrace this). The three defendants are all over 80 - Galárraga is reported to be 90 - so we'll see how far this goes.

Procesamiento para los entregadores de la Ford (Pagina/12)
Procesan a tres ex directivos de la automotriz Ford por el secuestro de 24 obreros durante la dictadura (Politicaymedios, also image source)
Por secuestros durante la dictadura, procesaron a directivos de la Ford (eldiario24.com)
Procesan a tres ejecutivos de Ford Motor Argentina de la época del “Falcon verde” (Los Andes)

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