Operation Condor, as it later became known, refers to the collaboration and exchange of information between right wing dictatorships in the Southern Cone. Implemented in 1975, its main participants were: Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia. This clandestine information sharing fomented and indeed facilitated bloody campaigns against left wing dissidents, allowing them to be pursued, captured, rounded up, and killed across the territories. Its secretive nature means that it is difficult to arrive at an exact figure, but the numbers of deaths and/or disappeared is thought to be upwards of 60,000 people.
The oral proceedings, which began on 6th March, will see around 500 witnesses give testimony. Argentine dictator Jorge Videla, now 87, stands among the accused.
Amnesty International has said that, “the trial is a historic landmark in the fight against the impunity of crimes committed by authoritarian military governments during the 70s and 80s”. Almost 40 years later, Sabrina Hummel has a listen to what the people had to say. Portraits by Jerry Nelson.
Yoel, 28, dentist, Almagro
I think it’s good that Videla is brought to trial, and that those involved are also brought to trial. If the judges find them to be guilty, they should go to prison. It’s like the Holocaust, there are people involved who are still alive today and have yet to be brought to justice. They ought to be put on trial, as Argentina is doing in the case of Videla. The AMIA trial however has still not arrived at or seen a definitive conclusion.
Maite Auzmendi, 18, student, La Plata
Those that were disappeared deserve justice, as do their families. Putting them on trial is the most democratic (and just) way to bring about justice. It’s important to bear in mind however that, during that time, the military leaders were not the only ones involved, and so they are not the only ones that should be punished. There are lots of murderers who are walking free, often hiding behind political careers where no one would dare confront them. They continue to rob and to be corrupt and no one says anything. Its good that military men like Videla are on trial, but I would also like to see the rest of them on trial as well.
Jorge Nardini, 63, electronic technician, Villa Crespo
Thirty years or so have passed since Plan Condor. They were tough times, lots was going on but very little was known. It was a dark period for Argentina. For me those involved were criminals. Anyone who kills, whatever the reason needs to be brought to trial. Those who commit crimes must pay for what they have done. If there is a way to make those involved pay, it should be done. It is important the final sentence reflects the gravity of the crime. I don’t know anyone personally affected, but it was a terrible war, and at the end of the day no one wins. It would have been better if the whole thing had never taken place to begin with.
Martin Nass, 25, law graduate, Balvanera
I think it is totally correct. I think that is laudable that the trials are fighting to get rid of the Full Stop Law and that these crimes, committed years ago, are being re-examined and investigated. Argentina has taken a step forward in that it is bringing the accused to trial. In countries like Chile and Peru there is much more resistance to put the accused on trial.
Liliana, 19, student, Lomas de Zamora
I don’t know much about what is going on exactly, but I believe it is a good thing. It is a good idea of how to move forward. It shows that things that happened in the past will not be overlooked. It is a good example for anyone who thinks they can commit such acts and get away with it. It is an example for the world to follow. It is a pledge to Argentina and to the wider community that what has taken place will not be forgotten.