Saturday, 20 July 2013

Argentina: Question marks over new army chief

Updated post, see below.

Argentine president Christina Kirchner named Major-General César Milani as the new head of the army about a month ago. The appointment is causing controversy because of Milani's presence in the early stages of the "dirty war" in Tucumán in 1976. (For those who don't know, the last military coup in Argentina was of course March 1976. However, severe military repression had been going on in the province of Tucumán for a year prior to that - almost as a "practice exercise" for the nationwide abuses which were to follow).

Milani was just 22 21 [he says] at the time and there is no suggestion he played a leading role in the atrocities. In fact, there seems to be very little information about his involvement at all. However, given the circumstances and given the fact that the Kirchner government parades its human rights credentials, it's only natural that people are going to ask questions.

The major human rights organisations - Abuelas, CELS - seem to be taking a cautious approach. They are not denouncing Milani outright but merely asking for clarification.

Milani is claiming that there is a "smear campaign" against him designed to discredit the government. He has shown up in person to courts in Tucumán and La Rioja to deny involvement in human rights crimes. The Senate is due to discuss his appointment next week.

Milani human rights record questioned (Buenos Aires Herald)
Skeletons out of the closet (Buenos Aires Herald)
Milani denounces 'smearing campaign' against Government (Buenos Aires Herald)
César Milani denunció una "campaña de desprestigio en su contra" para "perjudicar al Gobierno" (La Nación)
Milani también fue al tribunal tucumano (Pagina/12)
Perez Esquivel: Bedenken gegen neuen Armeechef (KNA)


On Sunday, 21 July, an interview with Milani appears in Pagina/12 in which he states that he never saw [General Antonio Domingo] Bussi in Tucumán and that he did not know Alberto Ledo, a soldier who became the victim of forced disappearance. He also denies that he was involved in the detention of the father of Ramón Olivera in La Rioja. He expresses incredulity that the accusations are surfacing now, after all these years.

“No puedo creer las cosas que se dicen” (Pagina/12)

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