Press - March 24, 2016

Human rights organizations march to the Plaza de Mayo for the 40th anniversary of the military coup

  • Source: Abuelas
  • Translator: Héctor Rombola

Complete version of the speech delivered by the human right organizations

Human rights organizations march to the Plaza de Mayo for the 40th anniversary of the military coup

At 40 years since the genocidal coup d'état which caused so much damage to our people, killing thousands, disappeared, prey and political prisoners, exiles, a nation sunk in poverty, without social justice and with great fear, we are today at the Plaza de Mayo to remember the struggle of the 30,000.

It has been 40 years since that March 24, 1976 when the genocides occupied the Casa Rosada [government house] to decide about life and death. With systematic terror as a method, they sought to impose an economic, political, social and cultural plan of hunger and exclusion through a prescription written by the economic groups, the United States Government, the Church and with the involvement of the legal system.
With their so called Doctrine of National Security, they tried to install the idea of an internal enemy, shaping the armed forces at the School of the Americas to massacre the people. They filled our country with fear. The "don't get involved" ("no te metás") was the editorial line brought about by the media such as Clarín [newspaper], La Nación [newspaper] and many others who were participants in these crimes against humanity. They filled their pages with lies about the state terrorism, accusing the militants of murderers, showing as the military actions what were crimes, writing arguments supporting the "theory of the two demons", exercising psychological terror using ink and paper, accusing the survivors living abroad and denouncing the dictatorship of carrying an "anti-Argentina" campaign.

And 40 years later, benefiting from impunity, those same media are still doing the same thing: talk about "grasa militante" y de "ñoquis" (derogative terms emphasizing activists with only lower education and politically obtained jobs in the government administration - N. of T.), aiming against workers and political organizations, because they cannot stand that the youth organizes, fight, are supportive and committed to social causes.

There has been 40 years of struggle, memory and militancy. 40 years looking for our loved ones. We began this journey in great solitude, persecution and repression. The first mothers of Plaza de Mayo were disappeared at the ESMA [infamous torture center] and thrown on the death flights. There is where we come from, out of the burden, out of the pain, but also out of the love for our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers and those thousands of militants who organized and fought for a wide, fair and free country. They chose politics as their tool and joined together in social organizations, political organizations, trade unions, student organizations like the UES, Montoneros, ERP, FAP, the Priests for the Third World, FAL, Vanguard Communist and many others. They fought at sugar mills, the Agrarian Leagues, the Cordobazo and the Rosariazo, shipyards and factories workers commissions.

That militancy gives us pride, as our own and that of all the brothers and sisters who strive to make our country better and better. Those upset with our militancy, stigmatize us; however, each of our victories confirms that we are on the right track. Thus, we also pay tribute today to all those colleagues and fellow members of the human rights organizations and survivors that have been part of this struggle and who are not longer with us. For them we also cry, Present!

Today we are in this Plaza and fear is again among us. Because weeks ago bullets were shot into a party office and two militants were wounded; because weeks before the police shot rubber bullets against a murga [band of street musicians], made up mostly of young boys and girls; and because Milagro Sala is a political prisoner of this Government which feels annoyed by this militancy. We are preferred to be obedient and conformist, uninformed and uneducated. They intend us to be broken and scared. But we carry the flags of the 30,000 [disappeared ones] very high, we say to them that we met Fear long time ago at the hands of the Triple A and the mass murderers. We will not be stopped. We will continue defending our rights, we will continue defending democracy.

In these first 100 days of Government, our democracy has receded too far: with alleged decrees of necessity and urgency, violations of institutions and laws such as the law of Audiovisual Communication [intended to eliminate media monopolies] and the Congress of the Nation when they tried to impose two judges to the Supreme Court. The need and urgency that rush them was to disarm the country we had, integrated to the Patria Grande [all Latin American States] and a State for the people. They changed it by a country delivered to the corporations and with a State giving its back to the people, using corporation logic and the emptying of social policies essential to guarantee social rights. To try to ensure a neo-liberal model for the country, they developed a protocol to justify repression to create fear and interfere in social protest as well as the demands for work, education, health and housing became demonized. It is important to note that among the concerns of the new Government was not to repeal the Anti-Terrorism Act. Or is it that this government plans to use it together with this protocol for the repression of social protest?

For this reason, and because there is no democracy without rights, we are denouncing that in 100 days, the Government of Macri, as Rodolfo Walsh expressed in 1977 in his open letter to the Military Junta, "restored the flow of ideas and interests of defeated minorities that lock the development of productive forces, exploit the people and dissolved the nation". 39 years after that letter, thousands of layoffs, persecution of the militancy, dismantling of social plans, laws ratified by Congress against the people and repression, are some of the facts of the first 100 days of this government and congregate us to defend our democracy. Thus, today the union federations are present at the Plaza because the workers are our Homeland and we will not allow that the are stolen of their the right to work or to put a ceiling on collective agreements, nor to stigmatize workers. After more than 12 years of a project promoting inclusion, today State policies are becoming leading to social, political, economic and cultural exclusion.

There are no rights without democracy, because when everything is concentrated at the higher classes, at the lower end there is only poverty, hunger, unemployment, repression. The [president] Macri's policies are the Government of the planned exclusion and of rights for the few.

The commemoration of the 40 years find us at the Plaza where all began, the rounds of the Mothers, Grandmothers and Family. We started to walk when it was forbidden to assemble, when the Congress was closed, when the forced disappearance of persons was the method of exterminating the opposition, when censorship was the weapon of the genocidal government to exclude culture and information so to make easier the subjugation of the people. We came here whenever we go out to protest, marching and demand. Here we were bombed, here we got our feet in the fountain, here made the first march of resistance in full dictatorship, here we were massacred in 2001. We come here to remember our loved ones, because they fought for a country for all, but were taken by a country for the few. They were men and women with projects, convictions, solidarity, committed. They are 40 years: four decades without those militants who we miss every day.

That is why we will not allow anyone, and least of all, a government official, to deny this forced absence upon us which are the 30,000 or try to reinstall the theory of the two demons. Again, we demand the unwavering and immediate resignation of Darío Lopérfido, an official, denier, in charge of culture policies of this city's government, who questioned the extent of the genocide suffered by our people. As serious as his sayings is the fact that the Mayor of the City [of Buenos Aires], Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, is keeping him in office.
We arrived at the 40 years of struggle, memory and militancy. In these decades, the genocidal murderers spent more years with impunity than in prisons where they should be: in common criminals prisons, perpetual and effective. The trial to the Military Juntas was followed by the laws of Due Obedience and Full Stop Law [Ley de Punto Final] and the subsequent pardons that again put murderers of the people in the streets. The road was hard: we even got to see and hear the perpetrators asserting their crimes on television. We brought back attention to them with "escraches" [lit. "scratch" or public hassling] to demonstrate the social condemnation and repudiated their impunity. We begin to see advance in court cases outside the country, while here the impunity was buying at the grocery store or walking along the beach. That story began to change in 2003 with President Néstor Kirchner, who decided to remove the fences slowing history and include in State policies the struggle of the people for Memory, Truth and Justice.

Thus, with continuity and deepening of these policies under the presidencies of Cristina Fernández, we arrive to these 40 years of the coup d'état with over 660 convicted genocidal murderers, 119 identities returned, more than 130 former clandestine detention centers duly marked and 35 Spaces for the Memory already open. Memory, Truth and Justice are no longer an impossible: they are the victories that we will continue defending every day. The Government has a double standard that must be denounced: while states to the press that to the genocide trials will continue, this government lays off workers entrusted to carry out those same state policies that guarantee the trials, such as the accompanying witnesses program and the team of researchers for these causes. In addition, this government continues attempting to remove the Prosecutor General of the Nation, Alejandra Gils Carbó while already advancing in curving her functions. Policies for Memory, Truth and Justice, like any other which guarantee rights, can only be upheld with workers working inside the government working. Therefore, demand an to the dismissals, respect the right to work, to maintain and to preserve the state policies of Memory, Truth and Justice policies so that we can find all the missing children, to continue preserving, restoring and re-signifying the former clandestine centers, to continue the search for the bodies of the disappeared ones and continue the trials to the genocidal murderers.

The military dictatorship started in 1976 was also civilian-led. The economic groups, the Government of the United States, the Church leaders and the Judiciary corporatism were the civilian part of the most murderous coup in our history, in which the armed forces employ some of the most macabre torture methods in the world. Hundreds of clandestine detention, torture and extermination centres, in which some members of the Church and the Judiciary system were part of interrogation and torture, in which there were doctors who participated in the systematic plan of appropriation of babies, these people kept in operation a clandestine country with crimes against humanity. Civilian participation in the crimes against humanity still enjoy too much impunity. Some of those responsible are on trial, but most do not. The Judicial corporatism still benefiting their partners-in-crime and protects perpetrators. With causes "left forgotten in drawers", such as the Papel Prensa case, genocidal businessmen walking freely through the streets who nowadays they plot against democracy. From its doctrinarian attitude, La Nación newspaper called for the genocidal murderers' pardon, just one day after the electoral victory of [current President] Mauricio Macri. Civilian genocide perpetrators did not have a secondary role: they were at the very same table as senior commander Videla when planning the terror. They even used offices in Clarin and La Nacion newspapers to commit their crimes, and Ford Motors facilities to kidnap, to torture and for interrogations. These civilians, almost in its entirety, such as Blaquier and Massot to give some names continue unpunished.

Not only the [perpetrators'] silence hurt us, but also the lies. For this reason, once more we affirm that the only war that occurred between 1976 and 1983 was Malvinas, which killed hundreds of people in the name of an unequal war. The war crimes were joined by the crimes against humanity committed by some official on the soldiers, crimes that should be tried and convicted as part of the criminal actions of this State terrorism. This is one of the unfinished business of this democracy, as it is the identification of the 123 bodies of those who lost their lives in the conflict. We are still demanding the recognition of our sovereignty over the Islands. The Malvinas are Argentinean! Memory, Truth, Justice and Sovereignty!

The genocidal murderers maintain pacts of silence. That has to end. We need to know the truth, the whole truth: where are the bodies? Where are the stolen young ones? They know this because they were participants. In all these years, we were able to find some of the grandsons and granddaughters, who already are able to embrace with their families. But many more are missing: that is why we are still looking for them. because hundreds of young people still do not know their identity. Perhaps some of you are in this Plaza or someone who is here knows them. This is possible because they are among us, they are somewhere. We seek them always, every day. We need them to come forward, to overcome the fear, take control of their doubt and to come forward: If we look for you and you come forward, we are bound to find each oher.
Recently, the President of the United States announced that, 40 years later, government files about the dictatorship will be declassified. It is an obligation of all States and governments to contribute to the objectives of Memory, Truth and Justice. Therefore, we hope that his public announcement is fulfilled and that we can finally access all the information of that country, which took part of the crimes against humanity committed by the dictatorships throughout the region codenamed Condor Plan. We need not only that they declassify all information, but also to extradite the genocidal Roberto Bravo, one of the murderers in the massacre of Trelew, and to urgently help in the search of all the abducted grandchildren would live in that country. In addition, we maintain categorically that United States should stop violating human rights in its own territory and in others, as well as in the Guantanamo prison.

This democracy of more than 32 years had to be defended many times. Nobody forgets the uprisings of the Carapintadas [lit. combat "face painted", military uprising in the 80's], or the massacre of December 2001 against the popular rebellion, when the people again were victims of government policies of exclusion and repression, with more than 30 killed nationwide and again the Madres [Mothers of May Square] were repressed in the Plaza de Mayo. Nobody forgets. This September will mark 10 years of the by-force disappearance of Jorge Julio López and we continue demanding to know what happened to him and we demand a trial and punishment to the guilty. Nor do we forget the disappearance of Miguel Brú, nor what they did with Luciano Arruga and Andrea Viera, or the killing of Fuentealba, Cabezas, Santillan and Kosteki, Mariano Ferreyra. 40 years after the genocidal coup d'etat, we are again convened and summoned here to defend democracy, because the change of Government has meant the daily violations of rights: thousands of people laid off from the Public Service and the private sector, increase criminalization of protest, the deepening of practices of institutional violence, ideological persecution, to the extent that we have today a political prisoner already, that is why we proclaim: Freedom to Milagro Sala now!

Deeply sad, we witness how this country has changed, turning into repressive practice, institutional violence born of past experiences such as the pardons, the Due Obedience and the Punto Final [Full Stop] Laws , and that remains one of the major emergencies of the democracy. While there is a Judicial [political] Party which, as shown by the actions of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, did recently authorize the use of the Taser "neopicanas" [closely similar to emblematic torture instruments used by the dictatorship], we are far away from achieving the eradication of such violence. Similarly, we will also have a long way to go while still running prisons and police stations as places of criminalization of poverty, of application of torment and torture. Therefore we reject strongly, institutional violence as shown in the events committed recently by the Miramar police against a young student activist supporting sexual diversity.

However, with a Judicial Party enabling the police to ask for the paper without justification [profiling], and with government officials who, under the pretext of combating drug trafficking, seek to leave security in the civilian neighbourhoods in the hands of the armed forces, then, the way in the struggle to eradicate institutional violence becomes increasingly difficult.

Also it becomes increasingly difficult to finish with the violence against women when there is a Government which closes areas of care and protection, or a judiciary patriarchal system which criminalizes the victims, or the Nation's President is the misogynist that it rewards with public office those individuals who denigrate women and he himself holds that, ultimately, women like to be "treated like that". There are women who daily lose their lives by the femicides men. Without a committed Government, there is no way out and to those government officials can only be labeled of accomplices. The same can be said about human trafficking: while sectors of the Judiciary System, the security forces and other government officials, by action or omission, are part of the crime, we are far from eradicating that crime which daily steals thousands of lives of men, women and children for the purpose of sexual and/or labour exploitation. For an end of the killing of women! For an end to human trafficking!

Today, our Latin-American Homeland is under attack because corporations do not want to lose their power grip. In this square, we strongly reject attempts to destitute Latin American democracies. We embrace the people of Brazil in their defense of popular sovereignty. Big business corporations go for Maduro's neck in Venezuela, for Evo in Bolivia, for Dilma and Lula in Brazil, showing that the Judicial and Economic corporate rule has no borders. Trying to take our freedom, our rights away. Thus, because we also have memory on our feet, we do not forget the path already travelled and know that a well organized people is impossible to stop. Because those who disappeared the 30,000 and attempted once and for all kill all struggles, are those same who today pursue activists. The same who impoverished the country with debt from their companies and brought damaged with their crimes are the ones coming back today to the Casa Rosada: the Macri family, the New Province and the Argentina Rural Society. They are the same and pursue the same goal: attack the organized people.

We are also concerned with the sale of the sovereignty of our country through mega-mining , the denationalization of our natural resources and the irresponsible payment to the Fondos Buitres [Vulture Funds]. We can never accept that this government impose us unjust debts. We remember the damage and hunger that caused us for decades the dictatorship-created foreign debt. We do not want to return to that. We defend our country, we defend our future.

40 years after genocidal coup d'état, we are proud of the struggle of the 30,000 disappeared ones. We look at the pictures and remember them with love, and we vindicate their struggles. We can name them here, in this people's Plaza, and know that they are part of the collective memory that embraces them. They fought for a Latin American country, fair, free, supportive and inclusive. And despite the losses, and despite the pain, and despite that today we are experiencing a retreat on rights in the country, we have never lost nor will lose our hope: we know that the impossible is possible. 40 years after genocidal coup, 40 years of struggle, memory and militancy, without rights there is no democracy.

Now, as always, we are going to end this meeting which more than that it is a gathering, a gathering of people who remembers, a militant gathering; and, as such. let's yell with all our might:

(30,000 disappeared present, now and forever!, Now and forever! Now and forever! )

Signing organizations: