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Argentina’s Human Rights Trials


Gabriele Andreozzi

The current situation in Argentina is unprecedented. In compliance with prescribed timings and procedures, the crimes committed by the state in recent history are being prosecuted and penalized. This book traces the path of the trials for crimes against humanity in Argentina, from the Trial of the Juntas that began during the presidency of Raúl Alfonsín to current developments under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, analysing the ideas of memory, truth and justice. In the volume, judges, lawyers, historians, journalists and witnesses from the era of terror give a lucid and critical reconstruction of the last thirty years. The contributors also point to other states where crimes against humanity are still being committed on a daily basis, despite being notionally proscribed.
This book is translated from Spanish, originally appearing under the title Juicios por crímenes de lesa humanidad en Argentina (2011).
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The Memories of the Disappeared in Argentina


← 274 | 275 → EMILIO CRENZEL

Military coups and political violence have a long tradition in Argentina. However, the dictatorship which began on 24 March 1976 introduced two substantial changes with respect to the degrees and forms taken in this country by this intense history of violence. First, in contrast to the state repression of political or trade union activists, it instituted in a systematic way the forced disappearance of persons, a political crime which encapsulated a decision by the state to exterminate its opponents. Second, the disappearances involved the exercise of a novel form of death for political reasons, its clandestine practice. This feature distinguished the Argentinean dictatorship from the rest of those which were established in the Southern Cone of Latin America during the 1970s.1

The disappearances consisted in the detention or abduction of persons, carried out by military, police or security forces, both uniformed or in plain clothes. The kidnapped persons were taken to illegal places of captivity, the Clandestine Detention Centres located mostly in military or police buildings, where they were tortured and, in most cases, murdered. Their bodies were buried in unmarked graves, incinerated or thrown into the sea. Afterwards, the State denied any responsibility for these events.

How have the disappeared been remembered in Argentina? What representations of this iconic symbol of the political repression have circulated in the country since when the crime was perpetrated up to now?

To answer these questions the following pages start from...

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