State terrorism apologist Cecilia Pando said Vice President Victoria Villarruel recently met with family members of jailed dictatorship repressors who wrote a letter calling for authorities to “keep their promises” to them.

The short letter — titled “Is 20 years nothing?” — was signed by Pando and 15 women related to former military officers imprisoned for crimes against humanity. It complains that Argentina has forgotten the “unjust and illegal imprisonment of our soldiers who defended the country from terrorism in the 1970s.”

“Why do authorities not comply with the promises they made to the families of the current judicial terrorism victims, and abandon those who have also fought for their lives, keeping them imprisoned until they are 100 years of age, suffering cruel and degrading treatment?” read the letter, which was published in the Argentine newspaper La Nación.

At just 160 words long, the letter does not state what promises were made or by whom. Pando told Radio Con Vos on Monday that the relatives met with someone from the Milei administration, “just like during other governments, like [Mauricio] Macri’s.” She declined to give names because she wasn’t in the meeting.

“They must have spoken with Victoria,” Pando said. “They probably talked about the military officers and their judicial situation.”

At the time of writing neither Villarruel nor Milei have confirmed whether or not such a meeting occurred.

State terrorism denialists and advocates often refer to guerrilla members from the 1970s as terrorists, espousing the idea that while the Argentine military committed abuses of power, it was acting to end political violence initiated by left-wing militant groups. However, implicit in that argument is the idea that these were two equal and opposite forces when most guerrilla groups had been wiped out by 1976. Most of the 30,000 people who were forcefully disappeared by the dictatorship were peaceful political activists or people somehow related to activists.

Among the letter’s signatories are María Elena Vázquez and Lucrecia Astiz, mother and sister of Alfredo Astiz, a former marine officer also known as “the Angel of Death.” Astiz infiltrated the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo and is serving life sentences for kidnapping and torture during the dictatorship. Vázquez was convicted in 2013 for participating in the appropriation of a newborn baby in a clandestine maternity clinic in Mar del Plata in 1977. Vázquez and her husband, Army vice admiral Bernardo Astiz, were intermediaries between the clinic and the couple that ended up raising the baby as their own.

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Villarruel and Pando publicly defended repressors and attended trials for crimes against humanity together in the late 2000s. Pando has said she began her activism after Villarruel took her to meet imprisoned repressors.

The vice president is heavily linked to the military — her father Eduardo, a Malvinas war veteran, participated in the Army Independence Operation in 1975, which wiped out the guerrillas that had settled in the rural areas of Tucumán at the time. Her great-uncle Ernesto was charged in 2015 for crimes committed at the clandestine detention center known as El Vesubio but was unable to stand trial for health reasons.

A staunch public defender of the military, Villaruel founded the Center for Legal Studies on Terrorism and their Victims (Celtyv by its Spanish initials) in 2006 to seek reparations for those who died in actions carried out by guerrillas before and during the dictatorship.

Meanwhile, Pando became famous in the early 2000s for violently interrupting trials. She is married to retired Army chief Pedro Rafael Mercado and leads the Family and Friends of Political Prisoners in Argentina Association (AFyAPPA in Spanish). This association considers convicted military officers — with charges of repression, kidnapping, torture, murder, and child appropriation during the military dictatorship — to be political prisoners and advocates for their acquittal.

Mercado said Villarruel helped him meet Jorge Rafael Videla, leader of the military Junta that carried out the 1976 coup. “She coordinated visits to Lieutenant General Jorge Rafael Videla while he was in house arrest,” Mercado wrote in a Facebook post last September. “It was precisely through her that I was able to have a long interview with the ex-president, along with my eldest son.”

In the post, Mercado also accused Villarruel of abandoning the fight to release the imprisoned repressors.

Villarruel has admitted to visiting several military officers who were in jail or house arrest, but explained she was just doing interviews for her 2009 book, “They called them…the idealist youth,” about guerrilla members in the 1970s.

You may also be interested in: Victoria Villarruel, the other daughter

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Dictatorship apologist alleges contact between government, repressors’ families

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09.01.2024

State terrorism apologist Cecilia Pando said Vice President Victoria Villarruel recently met with family members of jailed dictatorship repressors who wrote a letter calling for authorities to “keep their promises” to them.

The short letter — titled “Is 20 years nothing?” — was signed by Pando and 15 women related to former military officers imprisoned for crimes against humanity. It complains that Argentina has forgotten the “unjust and illegal imprisonment of our soldiers who defended the country from terrorism in the 1970s.”

“Why do authorities not comply with the promises they made to the families of the current judicial terrorism victims, and abandon those who have also fought for their lives, keeping them imprisoned until they are 100 years of age, suffering cruel and degrading treatment?” read the letter, which was published in the Argentine newspaper La Nación.

At just 160 words long, the letter does not state what promises were made or by whom. Pando told Radio Con Vos on Monday that the relatives met with someone from the Milei administration, “just like during other governments, like [Mauricio] Macri’s.” She declined to give names because she wasn’t in the meeting.

“They must have........

© Buenos Aires Herald


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