March 11, 2014
Human rights groupsThursday, December 12, 2013
Promotion may lead to rift with groups
The Kirchnerite administration seems determined to have César Milani’s appointment as head of the Army passed this year, and the decision could end up costing the government its relationship with several human rights organizations that have long been supporters of the administration.
Milani served as a sub-lieutenant during the so-called Independence Operation in Tucumán province, which in 1975 set a precedent for the repression that the last dictatorship would unleash between 1976 to 1983 throughout the country.
Conscript Alberto Agapito Ledo was forcibly disappeared in June, 1976, and Milani signed a document declaring he was a deserter, which was a euphemism often used by military officials to describe the disappeared, as the Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) said earlier this year.
In La Rioja, Milani was also accused of taking part in Alfredo Olivera’s abduction. Last week, CELS added a new complaint, alleging his involvement in the case of former political prisoner Oscar Plutarco Schaller.
Despite these reports and the concern of human rights activists, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner decided to accelerate the promotion, using her majority to have Milani promotion by the end of the year.
Following CELS’ complaints in July, the president also defended Milani in a national broadcast. She then said that the Armed Forces were not to be blamed as a whole for the forced disappearances and the hundreds of clandestine detention centres that spread throughout the country during the military regime. She said that only individuals committed crimes and that she would not allow a public lynching of Milani.
Yesterday, Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich stuck to his script, and when the journalists asked him about Milani’s nomination, he wondered: “Why wouldn’t his appointment be passed if there is no sentence against him from a Court?”
His words did not please human rights groups, nor did the fact that Milani’s appointment was cleared for debate yesterday.
Sources from Mothers of Plaza de Mayo’s Founding Line said that they discussed the topic last week but agreed not to release a statement due to the social upheaval that the country is currently facing with police strikes. That does not mean they support the naming.
“I believe the reports against him. We have to see the evidence,” Nair Amuedo, a Mother of Plaza de Mayo Founding Line, told the Herald.
Nora Cortiñas, the iconic member of the same organization, was far more critical of the Kirchnerite administration.
“Shameful. Appointing Milani offends our missing ones. They want to name somebody who cannot occupy that post,” Cortiñas told the Herald.
“Although this government has mobilized justice, now justice seems bogged down with his appointment,” she complained.
Graciela Ledo, the sister of the disappeared conscript, criticized the government as well and denounced that her mother, Marcela Ledo, a member of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo in La Rioja province had suffered threats.
“With his record, he cannot lead the Army. Judges should have done something by now,” she told this newspaper, adding that, there has not been much progress.
Survivor Carlos Lordkipanidse arrived at Congress yesterday to express his concern alongside a group of members of human rights activists and leftist activists.
“We don’t want a genocidal perpetrator to lead the Army,” the leader of the Association for Former Detainees (AEDD) explained to the Herald.
Still, not everyone in the human rights movement opposes Milani.
Mothers of Plaza de Mayo head Hebe de Bonafini, a staunch Kirchnerite, has expressed support for Milani, even featuring him on the cover of the latest issue of the iconic organization’s magazine.
The human rights movement’s alignment with the government might end up damaged after Milani’s possible appointment.
Sources from the CELS, headed by pro-Kirchnerite journalist Horacio Verbitsky, told the Herald that they were analyzing their next steps as the military officer’s nomination was cleared for debate.
Camilo Juárez, a member of HIJOS — the organization that joins together children of disappeared parents — said that they were preparing a news release.
“This is a government strongly committed to human rights, but Milani’s appointment may have been a bad choice,” Juárez told the Herald.