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Buenos Aires (1976-March 24, 2006) Thousands of people take to the streets to mark the 30th anniversary of the military coup in Argentina. During Argentina’s “Dirty War” (1976 – 1983) it is estimated that 30,000 people were systematically killed or “disappeared”. Many more were tortured and detained indefinitely.
Buenos Aires: A survivor of torture visits the Navy School of Mechanics (Escuela de Mecánica de la ArmadaT, ESMA) torture center in Argentina. Sometimes referred to as the “Auschwitz of Argentina”, ESMA was the largest and most notorious of more than 400 clandestine torture, detention and execution centers. Of the 5,000 brought here, only 150 survived their detention.
Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo) is an organization of Argentine mothers whose children were "disappeared”. One of the more deplorable acts included kidnapping pregnant women and holding them until their captives were able to perform a caesarian to remove the baby. The children were then given to families with ties to the military; many of the mothers bodies were disposed of by dropping them by airplane into the Atlantic ocean or were buried in unmarked graves. A large number of children of the detained and disappeared were also taken and given to military families. Research has shown that more than 500 of the“disappeared” were children taken from their homes.
A newly release government memo provides clear evidence that former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger gave Argentina's neo-fascist military junta the "green light" to proceed with their horrific campaign against anyone they deemed a “subversive”. Of the 30,000 killed / disappeared, approximately 21% were students.
For nearly four decades, the Mothers have fought for the right to reunite with their abducted children and grandchildren. In protests, they wear white head scarves embroidered with their children's names, which symbolize the blankets and diapers of the lost children. The name of the organization refers to the plaza located in front of the (Casa Rosada) Presidential Palace, where the bereaved mothers and grandmothers first gathered. Today they still gather every Thursday afternoon for a half-hour walk around the plaza. Since the organization formed in 1977 they have circled the plaza nearly 2,000 times.
Mothers of Plaza de Mayo march toward the Presidential Palace to demand answers and make their voices heard. Several of the mothers were also detained, tortured and killed for marching in the plaza.
South America / Operation Condor
War Crimes: Throughout S. America, thousands who fled to neighboring countries trying to escape war and persecution faced even greater threats in the countries they sought refuge in. “Operation Condor” was the coordinated covert intelligence project between the military dictatorships of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. Its purported purpose was to exchange information on the activities of government opponents and exiles. It led to countless assassinations, secret detentions and the transfer of exiles to their home country, and, in many cases, their subsequent "disappearance." It is estimated that at least 60,000 deaths can be attributed to Condor. The security forces of the governments involved worked jointly in one another's territory, often covering up cross-frontier transfers by making it appear the detainee had been arrested locally, or had died abroad. To cover up transfers and assassinations, it stage-managed incidents that were then "reported" in the local media, making it appear that the victims had been killed in political disputes. The U.S. provided technical support, military aid and trained many of the military officials involved at the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA).