The Argentinian army keeps honoring the memory of their comrades killed by guerrillas. An opinion by Massimo Carlotto
The chain of homage and celebrations in honor of members of the military killed
by the Montoneros during the Argentine dictatorship continues, and so do tensions
with the government, which in its turn pays homage to the thousands of desaparecidos
who were the victims of those same military personnel. Generals and marshals are
flinging accusations at president Kirchner, who according to them is partisan
in publicly memorialising only victims who were members of the guerrilla groups,
those young people who disappeared, erased for ever. A distorted point of view
that brings forth arguments and attacks that sound very intimidating. But Kirchner
isn’t buying it. Not only is he countering his accusers, saying “We are not happy
with an army that killed its brothers and sisters”, but he has acted with laws
to put these nostalgics in their place.
Butting heads. These reforms, along with government announcements on the role of the armed forces
during the dictatorship, have publicly brought to light the nostalgia and unease
of the military, which has begun to schedule public events in memory of their
dead comrades. On May 24th one such ceremony took place in the center of Buenos Aires. A gesture that the
president of the republic considered an insult and immediately punished with a
law he wrote himself. But the army isn’t giving in.
Massimo Carlotto. “A minority in Argentina has always behaved this way, since they had a lot to
hide anyway,” says the writer Massimo Carlotto, a nephew of Estela Carlotto, the
president of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo. He too has been involved for years
in researching the historical truth of what happened in Argentina. “After lying
quiet for many years, this part of society is raising its head, but it was always
there. The dictatorship had support in Argentine society, that is nothing new.
But the fact that this attitude is alive and well in the army and the police,
where such people absolutely are the majority, this is due to the fact that they
have so far gone unpunished. The structure that was behind the desaparicion, the strategy of making people disappear, was clandestine and transversal through
all police forces and the armed forces. The names of everyone who was involved
have not come out and therefore these people have gone unpunished. A large part
of that terror structure is still intact”.
Silence would be golden. Carlotto has little hope for the truth. “During the dictatorship las desapareciones, the disappearances, were used for economic reasons as well. Certain companies
and groups were destroyed to build up others which are still going strong. Both
industry and finance were highly complicit in this, and just how extensively has
never been investigated. And let’s not forget the foreign governments, from the
Soviet Union to the United States, whose interests were all furthered by the Argentine
generals. And the secret services. The Spanish services, for example, and they
weren’t the only ones, would go there to train to fight the ETA. The size of the
problem has never really become known. Starting with the number of the victims.
I realized that when I was there and I started to cross-check the list of the
desaparecidos”. Thirty thousand, according to Carlotto, is absolutely rounded
down. Inadequate. The tally is far higher. The problem is that long-term research
and cross-checking is needed and that is, practically speaking, not feasible.
Here again, international support came too late and what is known has to be considered
enough. Nothing more cannot be expected. “But what can be expected,” he adds,
“is that the torturers and killers should keep their mouths shut. This has never
happened anywhere. Not even Pinochet ever dared to behave this way. The whole
truth will never be known, but these murderers should at least have the good grace
to simply shut up.”