Thursday, 27 February 2014

Uruguay's army chief wants to "turn the page"

Uruguay has a new army chief, Juan Villagrán, replacing Pedro Aguerre. Villagrán has already stirred up controversy with his remarks about the disappeared.

On taking up his role, he said there was "no further information" about those disappeared by the State during the dictatorship. He added that "96% of those in the army joined after 1985, so they are not likely to know much about it". He denied that there was an internal order not to reveal any such information.

Subsequently, in an interview with Uruguayan paper El País, Villagrán said that "as a private individual", he believes it is time to "turn the page" on the events of the past. He said that the dictatorship is now a matter for historians; as far as the institution of the army is concerned, it has been dealt with.

Not surprisingly, the families of the disappeared were not so pleased by these statements. One relative, Oscar Urtasún, said that to turn the page, "it was first necessary to read the book". "We are the victims and he is part of the victimizers," he summed up.

It's disappointing, but not surprising, to hear such statements from a high-ranking military officer in Latin America. How about leaving it to the victims to decide if they are ready to move on for a change?

Jefe del Ejército: "no debe quedar información" sobre desaparecidos (
"Creo que hay que dar vuelta la página y mirar hacia el futuro" (
Hijos de desaparecidos respondieron a jefe de Ejército (

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