Oh, What a Dirty War
If the Terror has one reigning symbol, it is the Ford Falcon. They were seen everywhere—always without license plates, cruising the streets or quietly parked and waiting. Thousands of individuals were “sucked up” off the streets, stuffed into the trunk of the car, or thrown onto the floor of the back seat, and transported to secret detention centers. The cars were also used to haul dead bodies.
Ana Maria Careaga was sixteen at the time of her disappearance. She was recently married and three months pregnant. “As soon as we arrived at the camp, they stripped, and began torturing me. The worst torture was with the electric prod—it went on for many hours, with the prod in my vagina, anus, belly, eyes, nose, ears, all over my body. They also put a plastic bag over my head and wouldn’t take it off until I was suffocating.”
Prior to “transfer”... the prisoners selected “to fly” were called by their numbers, ordered to form a line and march... in leg irons to the basement, where, the brass explained, they were being flown to a recuperation camp in the south, and would now be getting “vaccinations”... a physician administered the first dose of a tranquilizer (sodium pentathol) dubbed by the force as Pen-Naval. “It made them drowsy,” Scilingo recounted, “and we had to help them to the plane. Once onboard, a physician administered a second shot to knock the prisoner out. The doctors moved back to the cabin so as not to violate their Hippocratic oath,” Scilingo glossed, without irony. “Once the prisoners were asleep—this is very morbid,” he allowed, “we undressed them, and two of us would drag one prisoner down the aisle and then push him out into the sky....” Scilingo shoved thirty individuals to their deaths: thirteen on the first flight, seventeen on the second. Among them was a sixty-year-old man, a sixteen-year-old boy, and two pregnant women in their early twenties.
“Our bodies were a source of special fascination,” Astelarra recounted, shuddering at the memory. “They said my swollen nipples ‘invited’ the prod, eased the passage of current.” It was rare for a pregnant detainee to survive; most were killed soon after giving birth, and their babies sold to “proper” couples, usually from the military or police. Couples could sometimes choose their detainee, based on a description of her looks and level of education. The baby’s biological ties and family identity needed to be erased, lest it fulfill its “genetic destiny” and become a guerrilla.
“Seeds of the tree of evil,” the enforcers called the sons and daughters of “subversives.” ... Between June and September 1976, approximately sixty youths from the Manuel Belgrano High School were kidnapped for no more than having been members of the student council. “They were children,” wrote Guena, “they had no idea what was happening. They called for their mothers in their sleep... The military couldn’t decide what to do with them, whether to release them or murder them. Finally they reached a consensus: ‘Better to nip them in the bud. When already they have these ‘social concerns,’ they shouldn’t be allowed to grow up.’”
...the streets of Buenos Aires were clean, full of flowers, free of crime. In its showcase capital, the regime wanted little overt militarism...Enormous loans from the International Monetary Fund, Chase Manhattan, Bank of America, Citibank, and a host of other institutions, ushered in an intoxicating couple of years of “sweet money” (la plata dulce), which brought further embellishment and distraction: French and Italian clothes and cosmetics, German cars, electronics from the United States and Japan...”
In out-of-the-way streets, on isolated highways, along the Atlantic Ocean and Plate River, corpses periodically were discovered by civilians. Riddled with bullets, missing digits and teeth, most of the bodies were too ravaged to be identified. The first body to wash up—just a few days after the coup—was described in the media as that of a ‘drunk Korean fisherman,’ and there the improbable story sank. Early on the morning of Sunday, July 3, however, passers-by saw a man wrested violently from a green Ford Falcon, tied to the Obelisk in the Plaza de la Republica, and machine-gunned by the men (wearing civilian dress) who had transported him there. The site, the exact geographical center of Buenos Aires, is the local equivalent of Boston Common, the Arc de Triomphe, or the Lincoln Memorial. It is a monument to democratic governance.
“We lament,” said [Archbishop of Vioedma, Miguel] Hesayne, “that repentance has not yet come to those who should be sorry, including [many bishops].” ...“Official meals were taken with those we were denouncing as torturers... And yet [in 1977 at the Plenary Assembly of the Annual Conference of Bishops] we refused to receive the Mothers of desaparecidos who waited outside all day in torrential rain.” ...Of the scores of bishops gathered that day, only a tiny group—led by Hesayne, Jaime de Nevares (from Nequen), Jorge Novak (Quilmes), Alberto Devoto (Goya), Vicente Zaspe (Santa Fe)—argued to admit the Mothers. After a volatile debate, these men were voted down.
The Mothers were branded “communists” by, among others, the Papal Nuncio.
(All quotations above from A Lexicon of Terror, Argentina and the Legacies of Torture, by Marguerite Feitlowitz, copyright 1998, 2011, Oxford University Press)
The above passages from Marguerite Feitlowitz’s seminal book only begin to suggest the vast scale of atrocities committed by the three military juntas that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. Feitlowitz’s book concerns itself with how language was deformed by the juntas to impose a state of dissociated insanity on Argentine society, “normalizing” child murders, random abductions, concentration camps, mass executions, and a harrowing array of other daily war crimes—or, rather, euphemizing them into nonexistence, producing a kind of doublethink that allowed ordinary citizens to witness kidnappings in broad daylight and at the same time, doubt whether they had noticed anything amiss. It is hardly worth mentioning that this Hitlerite regime enjoyed the full support of the United States and its business community—it was especially cherished by David Rockefeller—or that the commander of the Dirty War, Leopoldo Galtieri, was a graduate of the US Army School of the Americas, like so many thugs and mass murderers who enjoyed until recently the run of Central and South America.
What should be obvious from the last quoted passages is that members of the Catholic hierarchy were fully awake to what was going on around them. A few behaved decently and stuck their necks out for the victims; some were tortured and themselves killed. But most of the clergy in Argentina, unlike their counterparts in Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship, thought of themselves as political soulmates of the generals, and were equally dedicated to the extermination of “leftists,” their extended families, their associates, friends, and professional colleagues, as well as complete strangers in the wrong place at the wrong time, people currently renting their former apartments, neighbors mistaken for them, and so on. This was not a matter of passive complicity, but active participation. Cooperation with the dictatorship and denunciation of “leftist” neighbors was preached at Sunday Mass. Catholics were told from the pulpit that the disappeared were subversives who had gone into hiding.
The Papal Nuncio, Pio Laghi, who declared the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo “communists”—by implication, subhuman—was a regular tennis partner of Admiral Emilio Massera, head of the Navy, convicted after the dictatorship of, among other things, 83 homicides, 267 counts of torture, 11 counts of child stealing, 102 aggravated robberies, etc. etc. Laghi’s contempt for the mothers and grandmothers of people the military had abducted, tortured, beaten to death, or tossed out of helicopters, people whose deaths were never acknowledged, many of whose surviving relatives and friends still don’t know for certain what happened to them, had its little echo just over a week ago when the Vatican press secretary, Frederico Lombardi, rubbished any inquiry into Jorge Bergoglio’s, alias Pope Francis’s, role in the Dirty War as the work of “anticlerical” and “left wing” “elements.” That word “elements” is a favorite among rulers of military dictatorships and those lucky enough to have their delusions serviced by a worldwide network of clergymen, but it does provoke the question, “elements of what?”
As per Ejercicios de Meditacion, a book by Francisco Jalics, a Jesuit priest who was kidnapped and tortured:
“Many people who held political convictions on the extreme right looked unfavorably on our presence in the slums. They interpreted the fact that we would live there as support for the guerrilla and they proposed denouncing us as terrorists. We knew which way the wind was blowing and who was responsible for these calumnies. So I went to speak with the person in question and I explained to him that he was playing with our lives. The man promised me that he would let the military know that we were not terrorists. From later statements by an officer and 30 documents I had access to later, we were able to prove without a doubt that this man had not kept his promise but that, on the contrary, he had given a false denunciation to the military.”
The man in question, named in a private letter to Father Moura, the head of the Jesuits in Argentina, from Orlando Yorio, a Jesuit priest kidnapped along with Jalics, was Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Could this have been the only instance of active collaboration between the current Pope-elect and the dictatorship? Or is this Pope Henry Kissinger in drag?
Given the decades-long, global epidemic of pedophilia the Church has facilitated by spiriting its child molesters from one franchise outlet to another, obstructing justice by offering victims hush money, denying everything as a first line of defense and isolating offenders as “bad apples” as a last one, it’s a safe guess that something larger than “left-wing elements” of civilized humanity finds it impossible to credit any whitewash the Vatican splashes over crimes committed by its employees. Father Jalics, who was always more reluctant than Yorio, his co-abuductee, to identify Bergoglio by name, has very recently spoken out on Bergoglio’s behalf, under what duress from the Vatican we can only imagine, claiming no denunciation ever occurred. This means that his memory has become sharper at age 85 than it was 50 years ago when he was 37, or that he hallucinated the 30 documents and officer statement he reported in his book. Neither idea is very convincing.
The Pope, like his cardinals and bishops and priests and other underlings, as proven by the resignation of his predecessor, is nothing more than an institutional employee, albeit the CEO, of a global company said to control more assets than the United States. A figure comparable in magnitude to Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, who, in a recent Popish moment, announced, “I’m doing God’s work.” Even Mr. Blankfein, however, proved to have a firmer grasp of reality than the Vatican when he added, “I know if I slit my wrists, a lot of people would cheer.” (This is actually too modest. If he took a swan dive off the top of the new World Trade Center, there would be multitudes in transports of ecstasy.)
No one’s suggesting that Bergoglio, alias Pope Francis, alias God—who admittedly has his vehement defenders, the editorial page of Investor's Business Daily among others—should take the Big Sleep. It would be a mortal sin, spelling Eternal Damnation for the so-called Prince of Peace. But now there’s the option of early retirement.
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