Jorge Rafael Videla
|Jorge Rafael Videla|
|President of Argentina
29 March 1976 – 29 March 1981
|Preceded by||Isabel Perón|
|Succeeded by||Roberto Viola|
|Born||Jorge Rafael Videla
2 August 1925
Mercedes, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina
|Died||17 May 2013
Marcos Paz, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina
|Spouse(s)||Alicia Raquel Hartridge|
|Alma mater||Colegio Militar de la Nación|
|Years of service||1944–1981|
He came to power in a coup d'état that deposed Isabel Martínez de Perón. After the return of a representative democratic government in 1983, he was prosecuted for large-scale human rights abuses and crimes against humanity that took place under his rule, including kidnappings or forced disappearance, widespread torture and extrajudicial murder of activists, political opponents (either real, suspected or alleged) as well as their families, at secret concentration camps and the theft of many babies born during the captivity of their mothers at the illegal detention centres. He was under house arrest until 10 October 2008, when he was sent to a military prison. On 22 December 2010, Videla was sentenced to life in a civilian prison for the deaths of 31 prisoners following his coup d'état. On 5 July 2012, Videla was sentenced to 50 years in prison for the systematic kidnapping of children during his tenure. On 17 May 2013, Videla died of senescence in the Marcos Paz civilian prison two years after his sentencing.
Early life and family 
Jorge Rafael Videla was born on 2 August 1925 in the city of Mercedes. He was the third of five sons born to Colonel Rafael Eugenio Videla Bengolea (1888–1952) and María Olga Redondo Ojea (1897–1987) and was christened in honor of his two older twin brothers who had died of measles in 1923. Videla's family was an old and prominent one in San Luis Province, and many of his ancestors had held high public offices. His grandfather Jacinto had been governor of San Luis between 1891 and 1893, and his great-great-grandfather Blas Videla had fought in the Spanish American wars of independence and had later been a leader of the Unitarian Party in San Luis.
On April 7, 1948, Jorge Videla married Alicia Raquel Hartridge (born on September 28, 1927) daughter of Samuel Alejandro Hartridge Parkes (1890-1967), an English Argentine professor of physics and Argentine ambassador to Turkey, and María Isabel Lacoste Álvarez (1894-1939). They had seven children: María Cristina (1949), Jorge Horacio (1950), Alejandro Eugenio (1951–1971), María Isabel (1958), Pedro Ignacio (1966), Fernando Gabriel (1961) and Rafael Patricio (1953). Two of these, Rafael Patricio and Fernando Gabriel, joined the Argentine Army.
Army career 
Videla joined the National Military College (Colegio Militar de la Nación) on 3 March 1942 and graduated on 21 December 1944 with the rank of second lieutenant. After steady promotion as a junior officer in the infantry, he attended the War College between 1952 and 1954 and graduated as a qualified staff officer. Videla served at the Ministry of Defence from 1958 to 1960 and thereafter he directed the Military Academy until 1962. In 1971, he was promoted to brigadier general and appointed by Alejandro Agustin Lanusse as Director of the National Military College. In late 1973 the head of the Army, Leandro Anaya, appointed Videla as the Chief of Staff of the Army. During July and August 1975, Videla was the Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Estado Mayor Conjunto) of the Argentine Armed Forces. In August 1975, the President, Isabel Perón, appointed Videla to the Army's senior position, the General Commander of the Army.
|Rank||Date of promotion|
|Second Lieutenant||22 December 1944|
|Lieutenant||15 June 1947|
|First Lieutenant||3 November 1949|
|Captain||1 March 1952|
|Major||18 July 1958|
|Lieutenant Colonel||28 December 1961|
|Colonel||17 January 1966|
|Brigadier General||23 November 1971|
|Lieutenant General||20 October 1975|
Coup d'état 
Upon the death of President Juan Perón, his widow and Vice President Isabel became President. Videla headed a military coup which deposed her on 24 March 1976. A military junta was formed, made up of himself, representing the Army, Admiral Emilio Massera representing the Navy, and Brigadier General Orlando Ramón Agosti representing the Air Force. Two days after the coup, Videla formally assumed the post of President of Argentina.
Human rights violations 
|Archives and reports|
Among Argentinians, the military junta is remembered for the disappearance of large numbers of students. The military junta took power during a period of terrorist attacks from the Marxist groups ERP, the Montoneros, FAL, FAR and FAP, who had gone underground after Juan Perón's death in July 1974, from one side and violent right-wing kidnappings, tortures and assassinations from the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance, led by José López Rega, Perón's Minister of Social Welfare, and other death squads on the other side. The Baltimore Sun reported at the beginning of 1976 that, "In the jungle-covered mountains of Tucuman, long known as 'Argentina's garden', Argentines are fighting Argentines in a Vietnam-style civil war. So far, the outcome is in doubt. But there is no doubt about the seriousness of the combat, which involves 2,000 or so leftist guerrillas and perhaps as many as 10,000 soldiers." In late 1974 the ERP set up a rural front in Tucumán province and the Argentine Army deployed its 5th Mountain Brigade in counterinsurgency operations in the province. In early 1976 the mountain brigade was reinforced in the form of the 4th Airborne Infantry Brigade that had until then been withheld guarding strategic points in the city of Córdoba against ERP guerrillas and militants.
The members of the junta took advantage of the guerrilla threat to authorize the coup and naming the period in government as the "National Reorganization Process". In all, 293 servicemen and policemen were killed in left wing terrorist incidents in 1975 and 1976. Videla himself narrowly escaped three Montoneros and ERP assassination attempts between February 1976 and April 1977.
Justice Minister Ricardo Gil Lavedra, who formed part of the 1985 tribunal judging the military crimes committed during the Dirty War, later declared "I sincerely believe that the majority of the victims of the illegal repression were guerrilla militants". Some 10,000 of the disappeared were guerrillas of the Montoneros (MPM), and the People's Revolutionary Army (ERP).
According to human right groups, thousands of Argentines — perhaps as many as 15,000 or even 30,000. — "disappeared" while in the custody of the police or the military. 10,000 to 12,000 of the "disappeared" in the form of PEN (Poder Ejecutivo Nacional) detainees held in clandestine detention camps throughout the dictatorship were eventually released under diplomatic pressure. Terence Roehrig, who wrote The prosecution of former military leaders in newly democratic nations: The cases of Argentina, Greece, and South Korea (McFarland & Company, 2001) estimates that of the disappeared "at least 10,000 were involved in various ways with the guerrillas". In the book Disposición Final by Argentine journalist Ceferino Reato, Videla confirms for the first time that between 1976 and 1983, 8.000 argentinians have been murdered by his regime. The bodies were hidden or destroyed to prevent protests at home and abroad. Videla also maintained that the female guerrilla detainees (whose babies were taken from them) allowed themselves to become pregnant in the belief they wouldn't be tortured or executed.
Some 11,000 Argentines have applied for and received up to US$200,000 as monetary compensation from the state for the loss of loved ones during the military dictatorship. The Asamblea por los Derechos Humanos (APDH or Assembly for Human Rights) believes that 12,261 people were killed or disappeared during the "National Reorganization Process". Politically, all legislative power was concentrated in the hands of Videla's nine-man junta, and every single important position in the national government was filled with loyal military officers.
On 5 July 2010, Videla took full responsibility for his army's actions during his rule. "I accept the responsibility as the highest military authority during the internal war. My subordinates followed my orders," he told an Argentine court.
Conflict with Chile 
During Videla's regime, Argentina rejected the binding Report and decision of the Court of Arbitration over the Beagle conflict at the southern tip of South America and started Operation Soberanía in order to invade the islands. In 1978, however, Pope John Paul II opened a mediation process. His representative, Antonio Samoré, successfully prevented full-scale war.
The conflict was not completely resolved until after Videla's time as president. Once the democratic rule was restored in 1983, the Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1984 between Chile and Argentina (Tratado de Paz y Amistad), which acknowledged Chilean sovereignty over the islands, was signed and ratified by popular referendum.
Economic policy 
Videla largely left economic policies in the hands of Minister José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz, who adopted a free trade and deregulatory economic policy. During his tenure, the foreign debt increased fourfold, and disparities between the upper and lower classes became much more pronounced, ending in a tenfold devaluation and one of the worst financial crises in Argentine history.
Public relations 
One of Videla's greatest challenges was his image abroad. He attributed criticism over human rights to an anti-Argentine campaign.
On 19 May 1976, Videla attended a luncheon with a group of Argentine intellectuals, including Ernesto Sábato, Jorge Luis Borges, Horacio Esteban Ratti (president of the Argentine Writers Society) and Father Leonardo Castellani. The latter expressed to Videla his concern regarding the disappearance of another writer, Haroldo Conti.
On 30 April 1977, Azucena Villaflor, along with 13 other women, started demonstrations on the Plaza de Mayo, in front of the Casa Rosada presidential palace, demanding to be told the whereabouts of their disappeared children; they would become known as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (Madres de Plaza de Mayo).
During a human rights investigation in September 1979, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights denounced Videla's government, citing many disappearances and instances of abuse. In response, the junta hired the Burson-Marsteller ad agency to formulate a pithy comeback: Los argentinos somos derechos y humanos (Literally, "We Argentines are honest and humane") The slogan was printed on 250,000 bumper stickers and distributed to motorists throughout Buenos Aires to create the appearance of a spontaneous support of pro-junta sentiment, at a cost of approximately $16,117.
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, leader of the Peace and Justice Service (Servicio Paz y Justicia, SERPAJ) organization, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for exposing many of Argentina's human rights violations to the world at large.
Later years 
Videla relinquished power to Roberto Viola on 29 March 1981; the military regime continued until it collapsed after losing the Falklands war in 1982. Democracy was restored in 1983, and Videla was put on trial and found guilty. The tribunal found Videla guilty of numerous homicides, kidnapping, torture, and many other crimes. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and was discharged from the military in 1985.
Videla was imprisoned for five years. In 1990, President Carlos Menem pardoned Videla and many other former members of the military regime. Menem also pardoned the leftist guerrilla commanders accused of terrorism. In a televised address to the nation, President Menem said, "I have signed the decrees so we may begin to rebuild the country in peace, in liberty and in justice ... We come from long and cruel confrontations. There was a wound to heal."
Videla briefly returned to prison in 1998 when a judge found him guilty of the kidnapping of babies during the Dirty War, including the child of the desaparecida Silvia Quintela and the disappearances of the commanders of the People's Revolutionary Army (ERP), Mario Roberto Santucho and Benito Urteaga. Videla spent 38 days in the old part of the Caseros Prison, and was later transferred to house arrest due to health issues.
Following the election of President Néstor Kirchner in 2003, there was a widespread effort in Argentina to show the illegality of Videla's rule. The government no longer recognized Videla as having been a legal president of the country, and his portrait was removed from the military school. There were also many legal prosecutions of officials associated with the crimes of the regime.
|Wikinews has related news: Trial of former Argentine president Jorge Videla begins|
On 6 September 2006, Judge Norberto Oyarbide ruled that the pardon granted by Menem was unconstitutional, opening up the possibility of a trial. Crimes by guerrilla groups, that according to Argentina's Center for the Legal Study of Terrorism and its Victims killed or maimed some 13,000 Argentines, were considered to be common crimes, out of time for prosecution by then. On 25 April 2007, a federal court struck down Videla's presidential pardon and restored his human rights abuse convictions. He was put on trial on 2 July 2010 for human rights violations relating to the deaths of 31 prisoners who died under his rule. Three days later, he took full responsibility for his army's actions during his rule, saying, "I accept the responsibility as the highest military authority during the internal war. My subordinates followed my orders." The commander of the Montoneros guerrilla army, Mario Firmenich, dropped a political bombshell during the presidency of Fernando de la Rúa, when in a radio interview in late 2000 from Spain he claimed that "In a country that experienced a civil war, everybody has blood in their hands." On 22 December 2010, the trial ended, and Videla was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. He was ordered to be transferred to a civilian prison immediately after the trial. In handing down the sentence, judge María Elba Martínez said that Videla was "a manifestation of state terrorism." During the trial, Videla had said that "yesterday's enemies are in power and from there, they are trying to establish a Marxist regime" in Argentina.
On 5 July 2012, Videla was sentenced to 50 years' imprisonment for his participation in a scheme to steal babies from parents detained by the military regime. According to the court decision, Videla was an accomplice "in the crimes of theft, retention and hiding of minors, as well as replacing their identities."
On 17 May 2013, Videla died of natural causes in his sleep while serving his sentence at a Marcos Paz prison. It was later discovered that Videla died from multiple fractures and internal hemorrhaging caused by slipping in a prison shower on May 12. According to a 2009 ruling, he will not receive a military funeral because of his involvement in human rights violations.
Human rights organizations throughout the political compass denounced Videla, complaining that he died without admitting what he was aware of the disappeared persons and kidnapped children. None of the tried ex-soldiers have provided details about the fate of those missing. Videla was mostly unrepentant for the widespread violations against what he deemed terrorist subversives.
Several Argentine politicians commented on his death. Deputy Ricardo Gil Lavedra of the Radical Civic Union said that Videla will be remembered as a dictator, while Hermes Binner gave his condolences to the victims of his government. Minister of Culture of Buenos Aires city, Hernán Lombardi, praised Argentine democracy for trying and sentencing him. Ricardo Alfonsín said it was good that Videla had died in prison. Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Argentine recipient of the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize, commented that nobody should rejoice at any death.
See also 
- Rosario Gabino (10 October 2008). "Argentina: Videla a la cárcel". BBC News. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
- Life sentence for ex-Argentina leader on Al Jazeera English 23 December 2010 (video)
- Popper, Helen (22 December 2010). "Former Argentine dictator Videla jailed for life". Reuters. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
- "El dictador Videla, condenado a 50 años de cárcel por el robo de niños". Retrieved 5 July 2012.
- "Argentina ex-military leader Jorge Rafael Videla dies". BBC News. 17 May 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
- Seoane-Muleiro: El Dictador. Ed. Sudamericana (2001).
- Ronald Hilton, Who’s is Who in Latin America: Part V, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, Stanford University Press 1950, p. 103
- "Estado Mayor Conjunto".
- "Ascenso a Teniente General en 1975". Diarioperfil.com.ar. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
- Unlike most other countries, in the Armed Forces of Argentina, the Army rank of Lieutenant General (Teniente General), the Navy rank of Admiral (Almirante) and the Air Force rank of Brigadier General are equal and approximate to three-star or four-star ranks. See Military ranks of Argentina.
- See Night of the Pencils, wikipedia
- 'Viet war' growing in Argentina, James Nelson Goodsell, The Baltimore Sun, 18 January 1976
- "5 Policemen Dead In Argentina Violence" Times-Union (21 August 1975).
- Wright, Thomas C. (2007). State Terrorism in Latin America: Chile, Argentina, and International Human Rights. Rowman and Littlefield. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-7425-3721-7.
- "Argentine president escapes third assassination attempt. The Montreal Gazzete. 19 February 1977". News.google.com. 19 February 1977. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
- Amar al enemigo, Javier Vigo Leguizamón, p. 68, Ediciones Pasco, 2001
- El ex líder de los Montoneros entona un «mea culpa» parcial de su pasado, El Mundo, 4 May 1995; search for "firmenich" on date 4/5/1995 at http://quiosco.elmundo.orbyt.es/Hemeroteca/Buscador.aspx (Spanish)
- A 32 años de la caída en combate de Mario Roberto Santucho y la Dirección Histórica del PRT-ERP. Cedema.org.
- Determinants Of Gross Human Rights Violations By State And State-Sponsored Actors In Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, And Argentina (1960–1990), Wolfgang S. Heinz & Hugo Frühling, p. 626, Springer 1999.
- "The Victims: Abducted, Tortured, Vanished". The Vanished Gallery.
- Detenidos-Aparecidos: Presas y Presos Políticos Desde Trelew a la Dictadura, Santiago Garaño, Werner Pertot, p. 26, Editorial Biblos, 2007
- Political Injustice: Authoritarianism and the Rule of Law in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina, Anthony W. Pereira, p. 134, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005
- (Dutch) "Oud-dictator Videla: onder mijn bewind duizenden mensen vermoord," Volkskrant (14/4/2012)
- El exdictador Videla llama terroristas a las madres de los bebés robados en Argentina, ABC.es, 28/06/2012
- State terrorism in Latin America: Chile, Argentina, and international human, Thomas C. Wright, p. 158, Rowman & Littlefield, 2007
- Las cifras de la guerra sucia: investigacion a cargo de Graciela Fernandez Meijide, Ricardo Snitcofsky, Elisa Somoilovich y Jorge Pusajo, p. 32, Asamblea Permanente por los Derechos Humanos, 1988
- "Argentina's Videla: 'Troops followed my orders' BBC news". Bbc.co.uk. 6 July 2010. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
- Lewis, Paul.The Crisis of Argentine Capitalism. University of North Carolina Press, 1990.
- Argentina: From Insolvency to Growth. World Bank Press, 1993.
- (Spanish)"Una sesión de homenaje". Página/12. 7 September 2009. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
- The Story Of The 1978 World cup - BBC Article Author: Jonathan Stevenson (BBC Sports Presenter). Published 18 May 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- "Pardon of Argentine Officers Angers Critics of the Military". The New York Times, 9 October 1989
- "Videla durmió en su domicilio luego de 38 días de detención". La Nacion (Lanacion.com.ar). 17 July 1998. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
- "'Dirty War' arrest". BBC News. 10 June 1998.
- "Argentine junta head has 'stroke'". BBC News. 17 December 2004.
- "Argentine junta pardons revoked". BBC News. 6 September 2006.
- Argentina's Forgotten Terror Victims. Thousands suffered in the leftist rampage that precipitated the 1976 military coup.
- "Argentine court overturns "Dirty War" pardon". Reuters. 25 April 2007. Retrieved 26 April 2007.
- Firmenich dijo que no mató "a nadie inútilmente" LR21.com, 7 August 2001
- "Argentina former leader Jorge Videla jailed for life". BBC News Online. 22 December 2010. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
- Yapp, Robin (22 December 2010). "Former Argentine dictator Jorge Videla sentenced to life in prison". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 23 December 2010.
- Barrionuevo, Alexei (23 December 2010). "Argentina: Ex-Dictator Sentenced in Murders". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
- "Former dictators found guilty in Argentine baby-stealing trial". CNN. 5 July 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
- "Murió el ex dictador Jorge Rafael Videla (Spanish)". 17 May 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
- "Jorge Rafael Videla no recibirá honores militares en su funeral" [Jorge Rafael Videla will not receive military honors at his funeral]. La Nación (in Spanish). 17 May 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
- "Los políticos hablan de la muerte de Jorge Rafael Videla" [Politicians talk about the death of Jorge Rafael Videla]. La Nación (in Spanish). 17 May 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
- "Ricardo Alfonsín sobre Jorge Rafael Videla: "En la Argentina hubo justicia"" [Ricardo Alfonsín about Jorge Rafael Videla: "In Argentina there was justice"]. La Nación (in Spanish). 17 May 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
- "Pérez Esquivel: "La muerte de Jorge Rafael Videla no debe alegrar a nadie"" [Pérez Esquivel: "The death of Jorge Rafael Videla should not delight anyone]. La Nación (in Spanish). 17 May 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
- "Videla murió juzgado, condenado y preso en una cárcel común" [Videla died prosecuted, sentenced and imprisioned in a common cell]. Télam (in Spanish). 17 May 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
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Ernesto Della Croce
|Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Arturo Numa Laplane
|General Commander of the Army
As Commander-in-Chief of the Army
|President of Argentina