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HOW MANY VICTIMS?

For years I have been criticising the Herald and other media for claiming that there were 30,000 disappeared during the last dictatorship. President Raúl Alfonsín formed a commission of respected figures, CONADEP, including the American Rabbi Marshall Meyer, to determine how many people were “disappeared” (or murdered) by the military dictatorship. Their official CONADEP 1984 report, identified 8,961 disappeared, presumed dead.

There could be some victims missing from the list, as there were also some people later found to be alive, mostly living abroad, but there is no reason to even suspect that there were anywhere near 30,000. Yet, a few weeks ago a reader wrote a letter criticising me, saying I was in denial for rejecting the 30,000 disappeared claim. So what is the truth?

In 1973 Montonero guerilla Luis Labraña was released from prison and took refuge in Holland where he got his university degree. In a radio interview he said that, when discussing fund-raising to support the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, the number of known disappeared in 1974 was about 3,000 to 4,000.

“The Dutch thought that society would be moved by a larger number and somebody said we should use a bigger number. They began with 15,000, passed onto 20,000 and I said, “Well, OK, let’s put 30,000.”

It stayed at that figure. I have three news items confirming that is where the 30,000 disappeared figure came from.

The moment someone questions the 30,000 figure, human rights organisations, leftists and populist politicians protest. Their explanations are all similar. “Other (unspecified) sources prove otherwise” is the most common. “US State Department figures passed on to Chilean intelligence services.” “CONADEP did not include all sources in the interior” “The repressors burnt all the records” are some of the common reasons given as proof for the 30,000 figure.

One common explanation for the lack of proof for the 30,00 is: “People were afraid to register their loss.” A 2011 article in La Nación claims that the government paid an indemnity to families of the disappeared averaging U$S 220,000. With that incentive, would thousands of persons still refuse to register their loss?

To conclude, the CONADEP 8,961 disappeared figure is not 100 percent correct, but is the best we have. The 30,000 figure was a balloon to attract attention. The question, then is, which should we accept? Obviously there were at least 30,000 people detained by the repressors. But the real figure of disappeared, presumed killed, is 8,961. In cheap leftist or populist media the 3,000 figure is all we can expect.

I have done some soul searching: Should the media, the Herald, specifically, use the 30,000 figure because it calls more attention to the crimes the dictatorship committed or the 8,961 figure which is closer to the truth?

My opinion: for much as I agree that the 30,000 figure catches people’s attention, the 8,961 figure is the figure ethical media should use.

Olivos

Henry Whitney

ON CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

Julio De Vido, former Planning Minister and current deputy, entangled in a myriad legal problems, has been able to keep his seat in the Lower House, for the time being, thanks to the warm support of Kirchnerites, still commanded by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The attempts to remove him from the Chamber of Deputies for “indignity”, have failed.

At a moment like this, I’m reminded of Henry David Thoreau’s essay On Public Disobedience, published in USA in 1849. In a few days, I’ll be forced to vote at the PASO primaries — which I consider useless and superfluous — prior to the October legislative elections.

Truth to tell, I don’t feel “represented” at all by the people in our Congress (nor by the ones to come), who enjoy all sorts of privileges, earn astronomical salaries and work very little. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’m becoming more and more akin to Thoreau these days and about to turn into a “conscientious objector”. Who cares, you may ask? I know I’m a nobody. But many nobodies might eventually make a difference.

Ringuelet/La Plata

Irene Bianchi

IRREGULARITIES AT THE

BRITISH HOSPITAL

I would like to inform readers that on July 18 the British Hospital via its medical subdirector Dr Mario Schiter notified me that as from that date all links between the Hospital and my person were ended.

This was presented abruptly and without prior notice — the only reason given for this decision was the allegedly lower profitability of the nuclear medicine service.

This was the culmination of a series of irregularities and mistreatment which I have been suffering since the death of the previous head of the nuclear medicine service Dr Diana Martino in February, 2015.

The competitive recruitment process for this service throughout the year 2016 ended irregularly with nobody hired. This affected me personally but I was never notified. Then at the end of that same year the Hospital Board decided to designate Dr María del Carmen Alak directly without any competition.

From then on my fees were paid irregularly, ending in my final removal from the Hospital.

My relationship with the British Hospital goes back 42 years, progressing from secretary and technician to a doctor and interim head of the nuclear medical service until December, 2016, working with commitment until now.

I believe that this brief explanation should make clear why I am so indignant about the treatment I have received from the current authorities and the lack of protection for the Hospital’s professional staff.

I should explain that in the last few years there has been a significant change in the treatment received by professional staff which notably impacts on the attention given to the patients.

I therefore call for an investigation of the procedures used by the Hospital’s current administration in order to safeguard the good name and honour of its founders and the members of the British community of which I feel part.

City

Dr Maria Clara Fitzsimons

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