Sunday 30 December 2012

Chile: Ex-army officers charged with Jara's death

Almost 40 years after his death shortly after the 1973 coup, Chilean singer Victor Jara could finally receive justice.

A judge has ordered the arrest of eight former army officers in connection with the murder, in which Jara was shot 44 times. One of the accused, Pedro Barrientos Nunez, lives in the US and is now likely to face extradition proceedings.

Jara's case is emblematic in Chile and will give hope to other families still seeking redress for their loved ones.

Chile: Ex-army officers implicated in Victor Jara death (BBC)
Eight Are Charged With Chilean Singer’s 1973 Murder After Military Coup (NY Times)
Abogado querellante en caso Víctor Jara asegura que todo lo logrado en la investigación "ha sido obra de los jueces" (La Tercera)

News round-up: While I was off holidaying

Life sentence for Argentine civilian minister who worked with the military dictatorship (Mercopress)
Timerman meets with Jewish community to report on talks with Iran (Mercopress)
A Year of Progress in Argentina’s Human Rights Trials (IPS)
Surprise Visits to Prisons in Argentina to Prevent Torture (IPS)

"If I may be very frank and rather rude, you had to keep the ball in the air with the Argentines. That was the object. We did not have any cards in our hands."
Britain's approach on the Falklands: neglect and hope for the best (Guardian)
Falklands invasion 'surprised' Thatcher (BBC)

Indigenous Chileans Still Fighting Pinochet-Era Highway Project (IPS)
Chile journalist denounces military rule research theft (BBC)
Thieves steal laptop of Chilean journalist investigating secret services during Pinochet dictatorship (Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas)
More cases come to light of journalists intimidated for investigating the military dictatorship in Chile (Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas)

Peru Puts Shining Path Leader on Trial (The Pan-American Post)

Saturday 15 December 2012

News round-up

The head of the Argentine-Jewish Community Centre (AMIA), Guillermo Borger, warned the government of President Cristina Fernandez that the organization’s members are concerned by the lack of information regarding ongoing negotiations with Iran over the 1994 terrorist attack on the AMIA headquarters, which killed 85 people.
Jewish community protests for being kept on the dark on Argentina/Iran negotiations (Mercopress)

A US court has sentenced General Mauricio Santoyo, who was President Alvaro Uribe's security chief, to 13 years in jail for links with paramilitaries.
Colombia general sentenced in US for paramilitary links (BBC)
Colombia will be removed from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights “blacklist” next year, but “the fact that a country report is being drawn up, rather than a country being included or not in Chapter IV, does not imply an improvement in human rights,” IACHR commissioner Felipe González said.
Off the Blacklist Doesn’t Imply Improvement in Human Rights in Colombia (IPS)
On Colombian refugees in Ecuador:
Cocaine's Forgotten Victims (COHA)

El Salvador 
On the 31st anniversary of the El Mozote massacre, the Inter-American Court for Human Rights ruled against El Salvador and ruled that the country's amnesty law, enacted after the close of the civil war, should not impede investigations of the responsible parties.
International court condemns El Salvador for El Mozote Massacre (Tim's El Salvador Blog)
El Salvador: Court Orders Investigation of 1981 Massacre (NY Times)


Peru: 28th anniversary of Putis massacre

 13 December marks the anniversary of one of the most notorious massacres in the Peruvian conflict, that of Putis.

The blog Genocidio Ayacucho has republished a comment piece by Nolberto Lamilla (who is, I believe, the former regional coordinator of the NGO Paz y Esperanza). It includes this reminder of the events of 1984 (my translation):

On the third day spent by the campesinos in Putis, the military and heads of the military base turned up at five in the morning, woke all the people and met them in the school yard to propose building a fish farm to alleviate the lack of food. They separated the women and children and ordered the men to start digging the pit.
At ten o'clock, when they had managed to dig a metre deep, the military surrounded the men and proceeded to shoot them point-blank. In the meantime, another group of soldiers raped the women and then murdered them. Finally, having killed both children and adults, they piled the bodies in the pit and covered them with earth and stones. The next day, the soldiers burned and buried the clothing and belongings, to leave no evidence of the slaughter.
Newspaper La Primera has published a number of photos of the area and the survivors, including the image of the cemetery at the top of this post. 

Meanwhile, La Republica reports that families of the victims were once again in Lima to call on the government for further aid. Aurelio Condoray Curo said that the reparation of 10,000 soles was risible and also noted that the area did not have adequate educational and medical facilities.

Reclaman al gobierno que inclusión social no llega a la población de Putis (La Republica)

Friday 7 December 2012

Argentina: ESMA witness commits suicide

This is very sad. Rodolfo Picheni, who survived torture in the ESMA, committed suicide yesterday. He had already testified in the megatrial which began last week.

Picheni - a union delegate - was abducted on 16 December, 1976, and taken to the ESMA. He recounted that there, he was beaten on several occasions for moving his hood in order to see, tortured with electricity, subjected to a mock execution, and witnessed a fellow prisoner beaten to death. He was freed in January 1977 but lived in fear for the rest of the dictatorship as he continued to receive menacing phone calls.

Of course, it is not for me to say exactly why Picheni killed himself or why now, but it's surely a reminder that some wounds run very deep.

ESMA: se suicidó uno de los testigos (Tiempo Argentino via Espacio Memoria)

Argentina: ESMA megatrial begins

The next massive trial of alleged human rights abusers began recently in Argentina. The trial - which is expected to last two years - is the first to focus on the death flights and encompasses a huge 789 victims. There are so many people involved that journalists have to watch the trial by videolink. Make no mistake, this is a big event, both in scale and significance. However, the very length of the trial means that it won't sustain the same level of attention throughout. The usual dedicated human rights groups will be following the entire thing, of course.

The opening of the trial received broad international coverage. British daily The Independent provides background for readers, introducing names familar to regular visitors of this blog, such as Alfredo Astiz and Jorge Acosta. It also quotes one pilot, Emir Sisul Hess, who reportedly told relatives how sleeping victims "fell like little ants" from the aircraft.

Victims of 'death flights': Drugged, dumped by aircraft – but not forgotten (Independent)

IPS notes that among the defendants, five are on the run. It reports that human rights activist Mario Villani has welcomed the start of the trial while stressing that “the struggle will continue as long as there are regimes in the world that need to use torture to maintain control.”

Argentina’s Biggest Human Rights Trial Begins (IPS)

The BBC notes that human rights lawyer Rodolfo Yanzon told the Associated Press: "This was, is and will be the largest trial of crimes against humanity."

Largest trial of 'Dirty War' crimes starts in Argentina (BBC)

German weekly Die Zeit also reports on the start of the trial:

Massenprozess gegen Mitglieder der argentinischen Militärjunta (Die Zeit)

Naturally, the megacausa has received blanket coverage within Argentina. La Nación, for example, focused on the defendants in this article about the opening of the trial:

Comenzó el tercer juicio por los crímenes en la ESMA (La Nación)

 Elsewhere, Spanish daily El País picks up on the urgency of trying the defendants now, because both they and the surviving relatives and victims are now so old; many have already died. The paper also talks to Ana Maria Careaga, who having been detained and tortured at the tender age of 16 is still only in her early '50s and well able to keep on fighting.

"Se están muriendo los sobrevivientes, los familiares de las víctimas, los represores" (El País)

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Argentina: Stories of found grandchildren

TV Pública de Argentina has produced a series of mini-documentaries of the stories of the disappeared grandchildren found by the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, and they're available on Youtube. These are a really great way of hearing from the (adult) children themselves - in Spanish only, of course. There are lots, but here are just a few:

This is Guillermo Rodolfo Fernando Pérez Roisinblit, grandson of the Abuelas' vice-president Rosa Roisinblit.

This is Victoria Montenegro, who I wrote about here.

This is Victoria Donda, now a congresswoman and probably the best-known found grandchild.

There are clips of the Grandmothers as well; just search on Youtube for "Nietos, historias con identidad".