December 18, 2017

Remo Carlotto, Lower House Human Rights Commitee’s chairman

Sunday, July 27, 2014

‘We should have waited for a judicial decision before appointing Milani’

Remo Carlotto
Remo Carlotto
Remo Carlotto
By Luciana Bertoia
Herald Staff

Born: December 21, 1962 in the city of La Plata
Position: Ruling Victory Front (FpV) lawmaker
Newspapers: Clarín, Página/12, La Nación, Infobae, El Día, Diagonales

Remo Carlotto waits for the Herald at his office located on Riobamba street. He lights a cigarrete and talks for over an hour about human rights, a topic that has marked his life since he was a teenager when his eldest sister Laura was abducted and her baby snatched by the military. His mother, Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo head Estela Barnes de Carlotto, is probably one of the most iconic members of the human rights movement in the country. The interview takes place in a cold morning in May, before the political world was halted by Vice-President Amado Boudou’s indictment in a bribery case.

What’s your reaction when you read that conservative daily La Nación defines convicted military as political prisoners?

The judiciary is moving forward with investigations into civilian complicity. For instance, judges are investigating the role played by (Ledesma sugar mill owner) Carlos Pedro Blaquier, (ultra-conservative daily La Nueva Provincia owner) Vicente Massot and how Papel Prensa newsprint manufacturer was seized. That’s why they are concerned.

Clarín gave important coverage to the transfer of the Genetic Database (BNDG) to the Science Ministry. Do you think it was a reaction to the investigation into Clarín owner Ernestina Herrera de Noble’s children irregular adoption? And how did you receive criticism from Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo founder María Isabel “Chicha” Chorobik de Mariani?

The BNDG was created in 1987, when the City was not an autonomous district. That has changed and that’s why it was decided to transfer the BNDG to a national jurisdiction. Some members of the human rights movement can be afraid but everything will be preserved and the BNDG strengthened.

But do you think the coverage was a reaction to Felipe and Marcela Noble Herrera’s case?

I do. The woman who was the BNDG director then became an expert working for Mrs. Herrera de Noble. Maybe they wanted to know what samples were in the BNDG. That’s why the case was not discontinued as judges agree that new evidence can appear in the future. There was a great controversy on whether to eliminate their samples or not from the BNDG records. When they had information that there were no samples linking them with disappeared people, they agreed to have their tests. We still think they can be children of disappeared parents.

It was said that a computer from the BNDG disappeared then. Is it true?

They refused to be tested for ten years but that changed when Dr. Ana María Di Lonardo started working for the Clarín media owner. If information was taken from the BNDG from her, that is a crime that has to be investigated.

You and other Kirchnerite lawmakers propose to create a truth commission to investigate businesses during the last dictatorship. Isn’t there a risk of overlapping ongoing judicial investigations?

No. it will investigate the profits companies made during that era. Then the information will be submitted to the courts. For example, if the Ledesma sugar mill after the Blackout nights in 1976 when 300 people were abducted increased its profits, that situation would make evident a criminal responsibility.

Is that bill going to be discussed this year?

I think so.

Are you worried about the trials for crimes against humanity’s fate after 2015 presidential elections?

There are some repressors sitting in the dock that say that in 2015 this situation will be over. What worries us is the possibility of not having a government promoting this policy and backing the trials. For over 18 years, human rights organizations opposed the impunity laws and we will continue fighting to see all the responsible ones behind bars. The president said that she wanted trials to finish by 2015. We want to close this historic period with justice.

But, for instance, trials for baby-snatching cases will go beyond 2015.

Those crimes were not included in the “Due Obedience” Law. The search of the appropriated children will always continue as it is a continuous crime that also affects future generations.

Months ago, BA Governor Daniel Scioli declared the security emergency in the province and human rights organizations said that he was stigmatizing some social sectors. Do you agree?

Yes. There is a wrong idea: the idea of war. We will not put an end to crime with more police forces deployed in the streets or pointing at some sectors to keep an eye on them. We have to dismantle criminal organizations, not the weakest link. We have to put an end to the idea of militarizing the security forces.

Do you agree with municipal police?

It’s a complex issue. These forces can only alert but cannot investigate serious cases such as organized crime. Some time ago, Mexican experts told us that they were rapidly influenced by drug-traffickers.

Do you think that after last year’s elections the discussion over crime was focused on the repression rather on its causes?

Opposition sectors are demagogic. It’s dangerous when they say there is impunity. We had some politicians like (former BA governor Carlos) Ruckauf who said that we had to “use bullets against criminals” or BA Security minister Alejandro Granados who said that you can find a suspect in every car. Those views make violence increase.

Do you agree with César Milani’s appointment to lead the Army?

I think he must have the necessary qualifications. The judiciary has to determine if he was responsible of the crimes he is accused of. If he was, he has to be removed from the force. This case cannot be used to attack the government’s human rights policy.

Kirchnerite BA City legislator Jorge Taiana said he wouldn’t have voted for Milani’s appointment. What would you have done?

I think that if there is a suspicion, we have to stop. It was not the decision and I respect the Senate’s determination. This situation cannot last forever. The branch of government in charge of clarifying his legal status is the Judiciary. Not every military officer was involved in criminal acts in spite of the place they had to serve in the 1970s.

In that case, he will have to explain what he saw...

Sure. Transparency and expeditiousness are important. I have always thought that a man suspected of these crimes cannot be promoted. In fact, that’s what we did when Luis Patti tried to take on his seat at the Lower House. Then the courts confirmed his responsibility and now he is serving a life sentence in jail.

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