On Tuesday, the Defense Ministry announced that controversial Army Chief César Milani had resigned from his position.
Written with military precision, the whole entire statement reads:
“The Argentine Army informs media outlets that; on this day Army Chief Lieutenant General César Gerardo Milani has presented his resignation due to strictly personal reasons.”
The government was quick to replace Milani with 59-year-old Malvinas veteran Ricardo Cundom.
But we all know that “personal reasons” are hardly ever just that, and several news dailys were quick to speculate which reasons would have motivated what most now consider a political decision.
Some argue his decision regards a fight he would have had with Victory Front (FpV) vice presidential hopeful Carlos Zannini over his becoming head of the new intelligence office (AFI); others say it concerns his decision to not promote his secretary to Major Colonel; and others still claim the government would have dropped him due to an upcoming breakthrough in a trial dealing with Milani’s alleged crimes during the military dictatorship.
Voices from the opposition sector, who always questioned the general, celebrated the news.
Radical Union leader and presidential hopeful Ernesto Sanz said:
“What would be even better would be for the justice to investigate Milani’s responsibilities for the allegedly illegal actions he may have committed.”
What’s Milani being investigated for?
The now former Army Chief was appointed in 2013 by President Cristina Kirchner, replacing Luis Alberto Pozzi. His designation was very controversial due to his activity in the last military coup. In fact, there are two ongoing investigations into his involvement in two crimes against humanity. The first regards the “disappearance” (which means “murder” in coup language) of recruit Alberto Ledo in 1976. The case has been tabled in the Federal Chamber of Appeals until a decision is taken on whether to call in Milani for questioning (which would be our aforementioned breakthrough). The second regards the alleged kidnapping and torture of Ramón Olivera and his father in a prison in La Rioja Province in 1977.
To top it all, Milani also has an open investigation into embezzlement charges. He’s got a lot on his plate, to put it mildly.
Despite all of these shady charges, he’s enjoyed a comfortable spot in the center of the Kirchnerite organization and has been repeatedly defended by some of the party’s main actors. In December 2013, Hebe de Bonafini, leader of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo organization (and ultra, ultra Kirchnerite) — an emblem when it comes to denouncing the human rights violations that occurred during the coup — interviewed Milani, who rejected all accusations.
In 2014, Milani was cast in the political spotlight following an increase in the military intelligence budget, which largely exceeded other areas. According to La Nación, the former chief controlled 67 percent of the entire national intelligence budget and became Cristina’s go-to man after she parted ways with the now-famous former Intelligence Secretariat Operations Director Antonio “Jaime” Stiuso.
The reasons behind Milani’s sudden resignation are still unclear, but they are most likely tied to the intricate underground that is Argentine politics. We can only speculate and make our own conspiracy theories, which can sometimes be more fun than reading about actual politics, right?