Saturday 28 January 2012

Peru: Uchuraccay relatives reject MOVADEF

(It's the time of year when Peru recalls the killings of eight journalists in Uchuraccay in 1983. Relatives of the victims have spoken of their opposition to MOVADEF, a group linked to Shining Path. The Peruvian journalists assocation ANP has also taken the opportunity to voice its opposition to a bill which could restrict press freedom in the country.

Journalism groups use gruesome anniversary to criticize controversial Peruvian press bill (Journalism in the Americas)
Deudos de Uchuraccay:Rechacemos al Movadef (Cronica Viva)

Friday 27 January 2012

Uruguay to compensate Macarena Gelman

Uruguay is to pay $513,000 to Macarena Gelman, who was illegally adopted after her mother was "disappeared" in the 1970s. The settlement is a result of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights case from last year, which established the illegitimacy of Uruguay's amnesty law.

Macarena is the granddaughter of Argentine poet Juan Gelman, which is one of the reasons her case always attracts attention. Her mother was abducted in Buenos Aires while pregnant and transferred to Montevideo under Operation Condor; her remains have never been found.

The settlement is an acknowledgement that the Uruguayan state was responsible for the death of Maracena's mother, María Claudia García de Gelman, and the "suppression of identity" of Macarena, who was brought up believing that a Uruguayan policeman and his wife were her biological parents. Argentine daily La Nacion mentions that Uruguay is prepared to hold a public ceremony in which it will formally accept responsibility for these crimes, but it does not give further details. The only English-language report I've found is the AP one below.

Uruguay to Pay $513,000 Settlement in Rights Case (ABC News)
Gobierno dispuso pago de US$ 513.000 a Gelman (El Pais, Uruguay)
Uruguay indemniza a la nieta de Juan Gelman (La Nacion)

Argentina: US knew about stolen babies

Former US diplomat Elliot Abrams has stated that the country was aware that the Argentine junta was illegally giving up the children of disappeared people for adoption. Testifying by video conference from Washington at a trial in Buenos Aires, he said
"We knew that it wasn't just one or two children". There must have been some sort of directive from a high level official, he suggested: "a plan, because there were many people who were being murdered or jailed."
Groups like the Grandmothers have seized on this because they have long argued that there was a systemic plan to appropriate children, it was not merely a couple of corrupt officials or a spontaneous decision.
He said he suggested to the junta's ambassador to Washington, Lucio Alberto Garcia del Solar, that the dictatorship could improve its image by creating a process sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church to return the children to their rightful families. But he said the ambassador told him Bignone had spurned the idea.
Abrams' testimony has also sparked further calls for the US to declassify all documents relating to the Argentine dictatorship, which could shed further light on the crimes committed.

Ex-diplomat: US knew about Argentina baby thefts (CBS)
US was aware of Argentine military “systematic plan to steal babies born in captivity” (Mercopress)
Un secreto a voces para la diplomacia norteamericana (Pagina/12)

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Peru considers putting the TRC on the curriculum - and it had better hurry up

I have just watched the Youtube video above and I am genuinely shocked and saddened.

For the non-Spanish speakers, it shows young Peruvians being asked about their country's recent history and revealing that they know...well... nothing. They were unable to identify a photo of Abimael Guzman - a man responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people in their country within the last 30 years ("Is he an artist?" "A film director?"). The words "Lucanamarca" and "Tarata" mean nothing to them.

The sample size was undoubtedly small and the survey not representative - there are young people who know about the conflict. But the fact that the examples shown in the clip above could even be found is scandalous. I live in Germany, and it's pretty much the equivalent of a young person here not being able to identify Hitler or recognise the word Auschwitz. That's simply not possible because the German school curriculum deals with the issue from every angle - not just in history lessons - with the explicit aim of teaching the next generation and making sure such a thing can never happen again.

Now the Peruvian education minister says she is "considering" including material from the truth and reconciliation commission (CVR) in the curriculum from 2013. I would say that this move is urgently needed and as many young people need to visit exhibitions like Yuyanapaq as well. Otherwise, when someone from a movement like Movadef asks them for a signature, they won't have any idea what they're signing up to.

Truth Commission Report Could Be Added To Curricula In 2013 – Minister (Peruvian Times)
Informe de la CVR será considerado en los textos escolares del 2013 (El Comercio)

Friday 20 January 2012

Peru: More on Movadef

Yesterday for the first time I mentioned Movadef, the movement which has grown out of Peru's Shining Path and is currently attempting to be recognised as a legal political organisation, to the consternation of parties across the political spectrum. Questions are being asked about where the group is getting its support from and what Peru is doing wrong if its young people can be prepared to turn to a Shining Path-linked group - important questions, I feel.

Caricaturist Carlin in today's La Republica sums up the position of the new group:

- There was no terrorism.* There were bombs, murders of authorities, leaders, farmers, men, women and children, but none of that was terrorism.
- Will you people commit acts of terrorism?
- According to what I've said, obviously not.

There's not much in English around yet, but this is a good overview from the Peruvian Times:
Legislators To Back Bill To Block Movadef Registration

*More in this article about what happened in the 1980s "not being terrorism".

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Peru: Call for memory topics to be taught in school

Rocio Silva Santisteban, executive secretary of the Peruvian National Human Rights Coordinator (CNDDHH), has called on education minister Patricia Salas to include memory topics, including the history of the Shining Path, in the national curriculum.

Her reason for doing so is to avoid the acceptance of groups such as MOVADEF (Movimiento por la Amnistía y los Derechos Fundamentales - Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights), a pro-Shining Path group currently attempting to gain official recognition as a political party.

She also flatly rejected MOVADEF's calls for an amnesty for jailed Shining Path leader Abimael Guzmán.

Piden a ministra de Educación incluir en currícula escolar la historia de Sendero (La Republica)

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Argentina: A look ahead to trials in 2012

A belated happy new year to all readers!

Pagina/12 reports that 11 oral trials for crimes against humanity have been confirmed in Argentina for the first half of this year.

  • Mar del Plata: starting 9 February. On trial: former military men Julio Alberto Tommasi, Roque Italo Pappalardo, José Luis Ojeda and civilians Emilio Felipe Méndez and Julio Manuel Méndez. Accused of: illegal deprivation of liberty, torture and murder of Carlos Alberto Moreno.
  • Córdoba: starting 14 February. On trial: former police officers Pedro Nolasco Bustos, Jorge Vicente Worona and José Filiberto Olivieri. Accused of: shooting of three members of the Peronist Youth (Juventud Peronista) Ana María Villanueva, Jorge Manuel Diez y Juan Carlos Delfín Oliva.
  • Córdoba II: starting 12 June. On trial: Luciano Benjamín Menéndez (again). Accused of: crimes committed in the clandestine detention centre La Perla between 1975 and 1978. This trial combines eight cases with the possibility of adding a ninth.
  • Rosario: starting 27 February. On trial: Manuel Fernando Saint Amant, Antonio Federico Bossie and ex comisario Jorge Muñoz. Accused of: the massacre of "Juan B. Justo", 19 November 1976, in which five people died.
  • Neuquén: starting 7 March. The second part of the trial known as "Escuelita II". On trial: 25 members of the security and intelligence forces. Accused of: crimes against humanity against 39 people.
  • Tucumán: starting 15 March. On trial: Jorge Rafael Videla, Luciano Benjamín Menéndez, Jorge Eduardo Gorleri, Héctor Hugo Lorenzo Chilo, Alberto Carlos Lucena and Jorge González Navarro. Accused of: involvement in the death of ERP activist Osvaldo De Benedetti in 1978.
  • La Rioja: starting 15 March. On trial: Luis Fernando Estrella, Luciano Benjamín Menéndez and Domingo Benito Vera. Accused of: murder of priests Carlos Murias and Gabriel Longuevillepero, known as the "the martyrs of Chamical".
  • Paraná: starting 21 March. On trial: former interior minister general Albano Harguindeguy and others. Accused of: 28 counts of abduction, torture and forced disappearance.
  • Santa Fe: starting 22 March. On trial: ex-police officer Juan José Luis Gil. Accused of: threats and coertion of legal officials, victims and plaintiffs in a human rights trial.
  • Trelew: starting 10 April. On trial: Jorge Enrique Bautista, Emilio Jorge Del Real, Carlos Amadeo Marandino, Horacio Alberto Mayorga, Rubén Norberto Paccagnini and Luis Emilio Sosa. Accused of: the 1972 Massacre of Trelew, torture of aggravated homicide of 19 victims.
  • Capital: starting 16 April in the city of Buenos Aires. On trial: Santiago Godoy and Alfredo Omar Feito. Accused of: crimes against 181 victims in the clandestine detention centres of Atlético, Banco and Olimp
Los once juicios que empiezan en 2012 (Pagina/12)