Argentina: rights crusader dead, “dirty war” legacy lives on

From Reuters Dec. 9:

The founder of Argentina’s leading human rights group was laid to rest yesterday, 28 years after she was abducted during the country’s military dictatorship. Family and friends buried the ashes of Azucena Villaflor on a prominent Buenos Aires plaza that for many Argentines has come to symbolize the fight for justice by the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. The group of mothers, often seen wearing white handkerchiefs, have pressed for a full accounting of their sons and daughters, who went missing during Argentina’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship known as the ”Dirty War.” ”Azucena rest in peace, this is your place,” said Marta Vazquez, one of the mothers. Villaflor was kidnapped by state security agents in December 1977. Forensic experts identified her remains in July after they were unearthed in a cemetery on the outskirts of the Argentine capital.

Unfortunately, the legacy of the Dirty War may not be entirely a thing of the past. From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 13:

The Buenos Aires office of the Argentina-based human rights organization Peace and Justice Service (SERPAJ) was broken into on the night of Nov. 8-9, SERPAJ director and 1980 Nobel peace prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel reported on Nov. 9. Six computers were stolen, along with a fax machine, phones and various documents, Perez Esquivel said; the burglars also damaged the doors and some furniture. The computers held “a lot of information,” according to Perez Esquivel, who called the burglars “the usual unknown people.” They had worn gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints, according to the police.

Perez Esquivel noted that the break-in occurred just days after the Third Summit of the Peoples in Mar del Plata, which ended on Nov. 4 with a massive march repudiating the US-sponsored Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and US president George W. Bush, who was in Mar del Plata to attend the Nov. 4-5 Fourth Summit of the Americas. SERPAJ and Perez Esquivel were active participants in the Summit of the Peoples. Perez Esquivel founded SERPAJ during Argentina’s military dictatorship (1976-1983) to expose human rights violations by the regime. (SERPAJ, Nov. 9; Prensa Latina, Nov. 9; La Jornada, Mexico, Nov. 10)

See our last report on Argentina.