Argentina: Masses March in Mar de Plata in repudiation to the Home Detention granted to Mass Murderer Miguel Etchecolatz

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By: Lucía Herrera / Source: Resumen Latinoamericano / The Dawn News / January 7, 2018

Photo Credit: Resumen Latinoamericano

Last Saturday afternoon, a massive march took place in Mar de Plata in repudiation to the decision taken that grants house arrest to mass murderer Miguel Etchecolatz in a rustic villa of his property in the Peralta Ramos Forest of Mar del Plata. The mobilization was organized by a wide front of political, social, trade union and human rights organizations from the local and national sphere. This action is one of the activities that took place in repudiation to the mass murderer, like the mobilization in the Forest on Friday, the escrache* or exposure of Saturday morning by leftist organizations and the Siluetazo, which consists in painting the silhouettes of his victims on flags or banners, of Sunday afternoon.

Around 20 thousand people walked the streets of Mar del Plata, from San Martín square to La Rambla (a watercourse in the coast), demanding the fulfilment of his three sentences to life imprisonment in common jail, due to his proven guilt in 960 cases of crimes against humanity when he led the Intelligence Department of Buenos Aires and had 21 detention clandestine centers under his rule. “The only home for a mass murderer is jail”, Etchecolatz is in his house, where is Julio López?”, “For mass murderers, common jail”, “If there is no justice, there will be an exposure (or escrache)”, were some of the slogans that of the flags that guided the different columns.

After 25 blocks of marching behind an extensive Argentine flag that has the faces and names of Mar del Plata’s victims and which usually leads the Human Rights mobilizations in said city, the caravan arrived to La Rambla where Rubén López, son of Julio López, Mothers and Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo took the floor in the main act. Present were survivors of the Night of the Pencils, like Emilce Moler, Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared for Political Reasons, like Lita Boitano and Cristina Muro, recovered grandsons, like Horacio Pietragalla and Victoria Montenegro, the offspring of the victims of Etchcolatz’s mob, like Ana Pecoraro, Paula Píriz and Eduardo Nachman, and members of the Disobedient Stories collective, composed by relatives of mass murderers, were also present in the main act.

During the act, Taty Almeida, member of the Founding Line of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, highlighted the responsibility of the judges that granted Home Detention to the former commissioner; José Martínez Sobrino, Julio Panelo and Fernando Canero “are part of this government, with Macri as president, that keeps violating Human Rights every day”, she said. It is worth remembering that Judge Martínez Sobrino was denounced for his participation in a case of appropriation of babies during the dictatorship, when the magistrate was the secretary of juvenile judge Gustavo Mitchell, and granted the adoption of the son of Uruguayan citizen Sara Méndez, who was kept against her will in the concentration camp of Orletti railcars.

While being clearly moved, Rubén López, son of Julio López -survivor of several clandestine centers under the rule of Etchecolatz, whose testimony was key for the ruling of one of the life sentences but who couldn’t attend to the condemnatory hearing because he was disappeared, for a second time, without any trace of his whereabouts-, expressed “I know that my father and mother are together and proud of what we are doing”.

Mother of Plaza de Mayo Carmen Ledda Barreiro, who was kidnapped and tortured in the clandestine detention center “La Cueva” (The Cave) during the search of her disappeared daughter and captive-born grandson, stated that “Etchecolatz and (Juan Miguel) Wolk know where my grandson is, and where they ditched my daughter. They won’t say it, but there they are, safe at their houses. I demand the annulment of this decision and I know I can count with all of you to force them to recede, so that they can’t live in peace”.

Every intervention of the Mothers was applauded by the crowd with the chant “Mothers of the Plaza, the people embraces you”. And one of them highlighted the gesture of unity that the march meant, claiming that “In such a way, they won’t defeat us, since it’s them or us”.

In the middle of a strong ovation, Nora Cortiñas took the microphone and expressed that she felt the presence of the generation disappeared by the dictatorship within the crowd: “We can look in your eyes and say that we are always searching you, missing you (…). We have you giving us strength every day. It would be terrible if we didn’t have the support of this three generations that support us. Thanks to that is that we wake up everyday and say: ‘Today we must keep struggling”. I hear the voice of Gustavo saying ‘Mom, come on. Don’t give up the fight’, and every other Mother hears the voice of her son or daughter (…). Today we are here rejecting the impunity of this mass murderer. If they wanted to bring him to this region, there is a jail, the Jail of Batán, made-to-measure for him”.

“To Batán, to Batán”, responded the thousands of present persons. Norita continued saying that they would keep “doing everything necessary until the revocation of this measure” and called upon the siluetazo that happened on Sunday afternoon.

“We will keep pursuing them, they won’t get away with it (…) the crimes they committed are horrible, they won’t be forgotten or pardoned (…) We will keep demanding justice and truth, that is the commitment we have with our 30.000 disappeared (…) We will throw down this policy that attacks Human Rights, we will throw it down (…) What do they think? That we will let them vacation quietly wherever they want? No! No to Home Detention, we demand common jail and we want it now!”, she claimed while closing the act with the traditional shout chanted by thousands of voices: “30 thousand detained-disappeared comrades, PRESENT, NOW AND FOREVER”.

*Escrache: Escrache is the name given in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Spain to a type of demonstration in which a group of activists go to the homes or workplaces of those whom they want to condemn and publicly humiliate in order to influence decision makers and governments into a certain course of action.

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