Horacio Verbitsky

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Horacio Verbitsky
Born (1942-02-11) February 11, 1942 (age 72)
Buenos Aires,  Argentina
Other names "The Dog"
Occupation journalist
Notable credit(s) Página/12

Horacio Verbitsky (born 1942)[1] is an Argentine left-wing investigative journalist and author with a past history as a leftist guerrilla (i.e. the Montoneros).[2][3] In the early 1990s, he reported on a series corruption scandals in the administration of President Carlos Menem, which eventually led to the resignations or firings of many of Menem's ministers. In 1994, he reported on the confessions of naval officer Adolfo Scilingo, documenting torture and executions by the Argentine military during the 1976–83 Dirty War. His books on both the Menem administration and the Scilingo confessions became national bestsellers.

He writes for the Argentine newspaper Página/12 and heads the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), an Argentine human-rights organization.

Journalism is to spread what someone does not want you to know, the rest is propaganda. Its task is finger what is hidden, give testimony
Horacio Verbitsky.[4]

Early life[edit]

Verbitsky was born in Buenos Aires. Since 1960, her has earned national acclaim for his writings and political columns, focusing primarily in the unmasking of political corruption and the promotion of a free press, denouncing any government policies that may affect the constitutional rights of free speech to journalists and citizens. He has also become known under the nickname "el perro" ("the dog"), for his determination in uncovering stories.[5][6]

During the 1970s he was a member of Montoneros, a peronist guerrilla organization that was engaged in terrorist activities in Argentina.[7] According to him, he participated in shootings, during which "luckily" nobody died.[7] He also stated that he had no important functions in the Montoneros organization,[7][8] although former Montoneros commanders Juan Zverko, Rodolfo Galimberti and Carlos Patané have claimed otherwise.[9] and point him out as the person that detonated a powerful bomb at the parking lot of the Argentine Army Headquarters by remote control on 15 March 1976,[10] that wounded 15 military servicemen and 6 civilians as well as killing a civilian passerby.[11]

Along with Mario Firmenich and five other Montoneros, he was indicted for allegedly being involved in the planning and execution of the bombing of the Superintendence of Security of the Federal Police, on July 2, 1976 — a few months after the military coup — which caused 21 deaths mainly among NCOs and 100 wounded.[12] The case was however closed in 2007 because of statute of limitations.[13]

"Swiftgate" and "Milkgate"[edit]

In 1991, Verbitsky came to national attention when he reported in Página/12 that US Ambassador Terence Todman had complained to the Argentine government that Emir Yoma, a brother-in-law and advisor of president Carlos Menem, had asked for a bribe from the US corporation Swift Armour meatpacking.[6][14] The story soon became a national scandal known as "Swiftgate".[14] Menem in turn accused Verbitsky of being a "criminal journalist" and Página/12 of being financed by narcotrafficking.[15]

Verbitsky later played a role in reporting "Milkgate", a scandal in which Menem's private secretary Miguel Angel Vicco was linked to the sale of spoiled milk to a government agency, forcing his resignation. In 1992, Verbitsky published a compilation of the Menem administration's scandals titled I Steal for the Crown, a quip reportedly from Interior Minister Jose Luis Manzano. The book became a national bestseller.[16]

Menem was eventually forced to change half his cabinet in an attempt to regain the lost political credibility.[6]

The Flight[edit]

Verbitsky was approached on the subway in November 1994 by naval officer Adolfo Scilingo who offered to discuss human rights abuses by the Argentine military during the 1976-83 Dirty War. During that time, Scilingo was stationed at the Navy Petty-Officers School of Mechanics (ESMA), which was the site of some of the worst violations. He met with Verbitsky for several taped sessions telling him "We did terrible things there, worse than the nazis".[17] Most notably, Scilingo admitted that the military had disposed of unwanted prisoners by throwing them naked, drugged but still alive from airplanes into the Atlantic Ocean.[1]

Scilingo was the first member of the Argentine military to speak openly about the human rights abuses of the military junta that ruled during those years, and his testimony, published by Verbitsky, elevated the stories of torture from opposition claims to generally accepted truth. Other military officers came forward later to confirm his statements, and the army's chief of staff admitted the involvement of top military leadership.[18] Verbitsky's subsequent book The Flight: Confessions of an Argentine Dirty Warrior was published in four languages. A best seller in Argentina, the book received mixed reviews from critics abroad.[1] Following these relevations, the Argentine Army chief, Lieutenant-General Martín Balza, gave a public statement on 25 April 1995 where he acknowledged and apologized for the army's involvement in killings and disappearances. The commander of the Montoneros, Mario Firmenich, in a radio interview in late 2000 from Spain in turn stated that "In a country that experienced a civil war, everybody has blood in their hands."[19]

Later work[edit]

He wrote for the newspaper El País (Spain); The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times (USA).

In 2004 his colleague Julio Nudler accused Verbitsky of defending the government after Verbitsky played down that Página/12 refused to publish Nudler's corruption allegations against Alberto Fernández who was the chief of the cabinet of Néstor Kirchner.[20]

He made news in March 2013 due to his critical book about Pope Francis' involvement with 2 priests who were tortured during the Dirty War.[21] Others have denied this claim.[22]

Because Verbitsky had impeached the former president Carlos Menem with corruption allegations Verbitsky was criticized for judging similar allegations against the governments of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner not with the same critical attitude. Verbitsky admitted that he has not the same critical attitude towards the Kirchner governments because he agrees largely with their politics.[23]



In Spanish[edit]

  • Prensa y poder en Perú, Extemporáneos (México), 1975.
  • La última batalla de la Tercera Guerra Mundial, Editorial Legasa (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1984.
  • Ezeiza, Contrapunto, (Bs. As.) 1985.
  • La posguerra sucia, Sudamericana (Bs. As.) 1985. ISBN 978-987-503-429-7 (13).
  • Rodolfo Walsh y la prensa clandestina 1976-1978, Ediciones de la Urraca (Bs. As.), 1985.
  • Civiles y militares: memoria secreta de la transición, Ed. Contrapunto (Bs. As.), 1987.
  • Medio siglo de proclamas militares, Editora/12 (Bs. As.), 1987. ISBN 950-9586-15-3.
  • La educación presidencial: de la derrota del ’70 al desguace del Estado, Editora/12: Puntosur (Bs. As.), 1990. ISBN 950-9889-55-5.
  • Robo para la corona: los frutos prohibidos del árbol de la corrupción, Planeta (Bs. As.), 1991. ISBN 950-742-145-9.
  • Hacer la Corte: la construcción de un poder absoluto sin justicia ni control, Planeta (Bs. As.), 1993. ISBN 950-742-394-9.
  • El vuelo, Planeta (Bs. As.), 1995. ISBN 950-742-608-6.
  • Un mundo sin periodistas: las tortuosas relaciones de Menem con la ley, la Justicia y la verdad, Planeta (Bs. As.) 1997 ISBN 950-742-886-0
  • Hemisferio derecho, Planeta (Bs. As.), 1998. ISBN 950-742-953-0.
  • Diario de la CGT de los Argentinos, AAVV, 1998. Quilmes: UNQ- Ed. La Página. ISBN 987-503-046-5.
  • Malvinas: la última batalla de la Tercera Guerra Mundial, Sudamericana (Bs. As.), 2002. ISBN 950-07-2231-3.
  • El Silencio: de Paulo VI a Bergoglio: las relaciones secretas de la Iglesia con la ESMA, Sudamericana (Bs. As.), 2005. ISBN 950-07-2035-3.
  • Doble juego: la Argentina católica y militar, Sudamericana (Bs. As.), 2006. ISBN 978-950-07-2737-2 (13).
  • Cristo vence: la Iglesia en la Argentina: un siglo de historia política (1884-1983). I, Sudamericana (Bs. As.), 2007. ISBN 950-07-2803-4.
  • La Violencia Evangélica, de Lonardi al Cordobazo. II. Sudamericana (Bs. As.), 2008. ISBN 978-950-07-2918-5.
  • Vigilia de armas. III. Del Cordobazo de 1969 al 23 de marzo de 1976, Sudamericana (Bs. As.) 2009. ISBN 978-950-07-3049-5.
  • La mano izquierda de Dios. IV. La última dictadura (1976- 1983). Sudamericana (Bs. As.) 2010. ISBN 978-950-07-3275-8[26]
  • Con Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky: Cuentas pendientes. Los cómplices económicos de la dictadura. Siglo XXI (Bs. As.) 2013. ISBN 978-987-629-344-0

In English[edit]

  • The Flight. Confessions of an Argentine dirty warrior. The New Press (New York), 1996.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Verbitsky, Horacio 1942-". Contemporary Authors.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). January 1, 2009. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  2. ^ Allen, Frederick E. (15 March 2013). "Did Pope Francis Do Enough To Fight Torture In Argentina?". Forbes. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "The awkward couple". The Economist. 22 March 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Un mundo sin periodistas: las tortuosas relaciones de Menem con la ley, la Justicia y la verdad, Planeta (Bs. As.), 1997. ISBN 950-742-886-0
  5. ^ Verbitsky y su militancia en Montoneros: "Participé en enfrentamientos armados y, por suerte, no murió nadie", interview of H. Verbitsky, in Perfil, November 4, 2007 (Spanish)
  6. ^ a b c d "Horacio Verbitsky: Awardee 2001". The Committee to Protect Journalists. 2001. Archived from the original on September 16, 2012. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c Verbitsky y su militancia en Montoneros: "Participé en enfrentamientos armados y, por suerte, no murió nadie", interview of H. Verbitsky, in Perfil, November 4, 2007 (Spanish)
  8. ^ Fallo favorable a Montoneros de la Cámara Federal, La Nación, December 21, 2007 (Spanish)
  9. ^ Kelly, Guillermo Patricio (1996). Olvido y Perdón. Arkel. p. 214. ISBN 9879613503. 
  10. ^ Ámbito Financiero, 07-08/09/1992
  11. ^ Argentine army quarters blasted, The Telegraph Herald, 16 March 1976
  12. ^ Sobreseen a los ex Montoneros Firmenich y Verbitsky, LA NUEVA PROVINCIA.COM, 25/03/2011
  13. ^ Fallo favorable a Montoneros de la Cámara Federal, La Nacion, December 21, 2007 (Spanish)
  14. ^ a b Eugene Robinson (January 26, 1991). "Menem Acts to Rein In 'Cancer' of Corruption". The Washington Post.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  15. ^ Calvin Sims (2001). http://books.google.com/books?id=S0TmIfyCwDAC&pg=PA441&lpg=PA441&dq=Menem+Verbitsky+scandal&source=bl&ots=FTiT8BSwel&sig=tePiDIW6tCmeAz1i_1Ca-F5mvQ4&hl=en#v=onepage&q=Menem%20Verbitsky%20scandal&f=false. Taylor & Francis. p. 441. ISBN 9781579583200. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Menem aide quits in wake of milk scandal". The New Straits Times. Reuters. January 17, 1992. Archived from the original on September 16, 2012. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  17. ^ Mar Roman (January 24, 2005). "Journalist says he doesn't recognize Argentine 'dirty war' suspect now denying part in death flights". Associated Press  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  18. ^ Linda Wolfe (September 30, 1996). "The Flight: Confessions of an Argentine Dirty Warrior". The Nation.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  19. ^ Firmenich dijo que no mató "a nadie inútilmente" LR21.com, 7 August 2001
  20. ^ "Nudler sobre Verbitsky". rodolfowalsh.org (in Spanish). 16 November 2004. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  21. ^ Goni, Uki; Watts, Jonathan (March 14, 2013). "Pope Francis: questions remain over his role during Argentina's dictatorship". The Guardian (London). 
  22. ^ http://www.buenosairesherald.com/article/126367/%E2%80%98bergoglio-had-no-links-with-the-dictatorship%E2%80%99-peace-nobel-prize-winner
  23. ^ Reportaje a Horacio Verbitsky at the Wayback Machine (archived January 24, 2012)
  24. ^ Eduardo Febbro, París, Página/12
  25. ^ Página/12, October 9, 2011.
  26. ^ (Diario Perfil)

External links[edit]