In case you didn’t remember, Jorge Rafael Videla (the man largely responsible for the monstrocious military dictatorship that killed 30,000 people between 1976 and 1983 in Argentina) is still alive.
Scary, isn’t it?
Scary because when you juxtapose that fact with Argentina’s reality, Videla’s mere existence comes off as incredibly anachronistic. A relic of a distant past. For most people born after 1983, it’s almost as if democracy had always been there, and the “disappeared”, the screams in the night, the kidnappings, the death squads and the systematic violation of human rights are all inconceivable concepts that belong in the Argentine history books along with World War II and the Crusades.
So every time Videla opens his mouth to spew some of his -fortunately now harmless- venom, he reminds us all that he’s still around and that those dark ages are not that distant. Worst of all, he’s not a frail old man lying in his deathbed as he awaits the unavoidable kiss of the Angel of Death. Despite his name being carved forever in a plaque in the tyrant’s hall of fame, he remains a defiant archenemy of Argentina’s present, justifying over and over again that his actions as a de facto president were necessary to crush the “impending anarchy” created by a “power vacuum” during María Estela Martínez de Perón’s government.
And once again, as he did last year, Videla has decided to speak to Spanish magazine Cambio 16 and this time he’s openly and unabashedly advocating for the Armed Forces to rise once more if the Kirchnerites decide to become perpetual rulers.
It’s uncertain why he continues to talk to that magazine. Maybe he’s not aware of the internet and thinks: “Hey. It’s just a random magazine in Spain. Nobody will find out”. Or maybe it’s because the journalist conducting the interview sympathizes with his cause (I’m not saying he does, but the wording of the interview certainly makes it sound like he does. “The disappeared thing“? “Were the Kirchners really heroic combatants?”. Dude. Come on. Come on now.
Casting Videla in non-negative light is a gamble. And I say “non-negative” because it is clearly not positive, but there’s a certain element of humanization that makes the reader feel uncomfortable. So it comes off as terrifying when he casually drops that the Kirchnerites “continue to sink this country into the abyss of Marxism” and that if they ever decided to perpetuate in power “the Armed and Security Forces will rise again with the people” to stop them.
He even calls on all “58 to 68-year-olds who are still physically capable of combat” to “arm themselves once more in defense of the Republic’s basic institutions” and combat “President Cristina and her minions.”
Yeah. Because an army of old geezers still living in the 70s are a force to be reckoned with, right? But his most sincere act of contrition comes when he is asked about what he thinks were the mistakes (if any, of course) committed during the “National Reorganization Process” (euphemism for bloody and fucked up dictatorship):
“In my opinion our biggest mistake was not giving the NRP another reason to exist after completing our primary objective in 1978 of bringing order to the impending anarchy that the power vacuum left by the María Estela Martínez de Perón government threatened to generate after her husband’s death.”
That’s the only mistake he can think of. Not the systematic disappearance of political dissenters. No, his main concern is not giving the dictatorship a raison d’etre. Fortunately History has taken care of that. Speaking of which, his delusions of grandeur come out in full force when he is asked how he would like to be remembered in the history books:
“I’d like to be remembered for the honesty of my public and private conduct, but also for the prudence of my actions, which were not devoid of strength. In my opinion, a Christian has to make use of the word as a messenger of Christ; but must also act as a soldier of Christ through the testimony of his work.”
Good luck with that, general.
In the end, you needn’t worry. Videla is behind bars and he ain’t getting out.
- He was sentenced to life in prison in 1985 after being found guilty of human rights violations.
- He was sentenced to life in prison again in 2010 for his involvement in the UP1 case.
- He was sentenced in 2012 to 50 years in prison for the systematic kidnapping of babies and children.
- He and many others are being accused of taking part in the Operation Condor and *spoiler alert* he will probably be found guilty as well.
You can sleep tight tonight.