Former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla admitted for the first time that his dictatorship was responsible for the death of “7,000 or 8,000 people.”
Speaking with journalist Ceferino Reato for his book Final Disposition, the Confession of Videla Over the Desaparecidos, the ex-president confessed that he allowed the cover-up of the traces of people detained or kidnapped so “not to provoke protests inside and outside the country.”
Leaks and extracts from the book have been made public today.
The book includes testimonials from other warlords, guerrilleros, politicians, officials and trade unionists who helped Reato to reconstruct the historical context in which Videla and his troops decided to take power on the 24th March 1976.
“There was no other solution; [in the military junta] we agreed that was the price to pay to win the war against subversion, and we needed the people to be unaware of that. We had to eliminate a big amount of people who could not be trialled nor put in front of a firing squad,” Videla is reported to have said by newspaper La Nacion.
Reato interviewed Videla for twenty hours from October 2011 until March 2012 in the cell number 5 of Federal Prison Campo de Mayo.
Videla is currently serving a life-sentence since 2010, when he was condemned for the killing of 29 detainees in the so-called ‘UP1’ case.
The former dictator never referred to the disappearing of the political dissident with the words ‘final solution.’ Instead, he preferred calling it ‘Disposición Final.’
Elsewhere in the book, Videla says that there are no extensive lists reporting the final destination of the disappeared. “Our goal was to discipline an anarchic society.”
Reato explains that before the 1976 coup the country was divided into five “zones” by the military.
Allegedly, the person responsible for each of these territories was ordered to prepare lists of people who should be arrested immediately after the overthrow of President Isabel Peron.
According to the interviewees, those lists were made up of “social leaders” and “subversives” whose names were provided by the intelligence services. They also included businessmen and executives, trade unionists, national and provincial officials, teachers, political and student leaders. Most of the disappeared of the following years came out of those lists.