June 2013        


Nowadays history is written by . . . the media

The recent death of Jorge Rafael Videla in Argentina and the trial for human rights abuses of Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala are interesting for what has not been mentioned in most of our media. Reports of both these events in the Irish media do not mention any involvement by the United States in their respective bloody campaigns. In fact most articles here have given the impression that both men were merely involved in local civil wars.
     In 1976 Videla came to power in a coup d’état in Argentina. When democracy returned 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 and the widespread torture and extrajudicial murder of activists, political opponents (either real, suspected or alleged) as well as their families. Up to 30,000 “disappeared” or were murdered during his time in office.
     Operation Condor was a campaign of political repression and terror involving assassination and intelligence operations officially implemented in 1975 by the right-wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone of South America: Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Brazil.
     The Condor Plan was developed by Henry Kissinger and George Bush Senior, who was director of the CIA at the time. The United States provided technical support and supplied military aid to the participants. Videla was one of the main proponents of the Condor Plan in Argentina.
     In the late 1970s and early 80s Israel earned more than $1 billion a year from selling weapons, many of them American in origin, to the military dictatorships in Argentina, Chile, and Brazil.
     Ríos Montt also came to power, in 1982, by way of a coup. He was subsequently ousted by his own minister for defence in another coup in 1983. Ríos Montt, whom Reagan described as “a man of great personal integrity and commitment,” told ABC News in 1982 that his success was due to the fact that “our soldiers were trained by Israelis.”
     From 1974 Israel had been providing intelligence and operational training to the Guatemalan army. This training was carried out both in Israel and in Guatemala.
     During his year in power, between the army and death squads connected to the army an average of three thousand people per month, mainly indigenous, were killed. Ríos Montt’s record has been described as one of mass slaughter, mass rape, and possibly the worst human rights violations in the Western Hemisphere in the last fifty years.
     Both Videla and Ríos Montt attended the notorious School of the Americas in Georgia. This establishment is, in the words of Congressman Joseph Kennedy, “a school that has run more dictators than any other school in the history of the world.”
     Failing to make any reference to the United States or, to a lesser extent, Israel’s role in the career of these two Latin American “monsters” can hardly be put down to bad or lazy journalism. Even the most casual of web searches will reveal the information. One can only presume that it is, in fact, deliberate policy—an airbrushing of history, and very recent history.

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