The National Army inflicted tortures to its elite forces as part of a training course, after the return to democracy in 1983. Human Rights organizations say they were learning how to torment their victims to obtain information.
“Like the French in Algeria, like the Nazi SS in the II World War, like the American forces in Vietnam, Argentine commandoes were trained to torture their victims”. The announcement was made by Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, the association that joins a big portion of the relatives of the “disappeared” people in Argentina during the so called “dirty war” (1976 – 1983). The denounce was fueled by the Argentine president Nestor Kirchner, after being reported of the existence of pictures probing a new scandal in the infamous Argentina’s Armed Forces.
According to official sources –National Ministry of Defense- pictures were taken in 1986, as the morbid commandoes' training methodology was only interrupted in 1994. It is well known that former French OAS officers trained Argentine military in contra insurgency tactics in the seventies. However, it was supposed that such actions were suppressed after the South American nation returned to the constitutional ruling in 1983. Pictures probe it was false.
In a news conference in Buenos Aires, “Mothers of Plaza de Mayo” leader, Ebe de Bonafini, confirmed the information, as explained that all along during the eighties they did the battle to overturn running training programs, but nobody listened to them. “I politically condemn the military for these activities as, unfortunately, our Justice is not going to do it legally”, said Ebe de Bonafini, making refference to her discredit of local courts to investigate the military. However, Mrs. Bonafini said he was optimistic about the actions from the Government.
Former high ranked officials did not acknowledged the controversial training programs. Former Genelal Martin Balza (Army Chief Commander between 1992 and 1999) said they were suppressed in 1990, two years before he became Army's highest ranked officer. Also, former President Carlos Menem –constitutional head of the Armed Forces between 1989 and 1999- said he was not aware of what was going on at the training camps.
A well known nationalistic former Army officer, Colonel Nanni, was arrested during the weekend after criticizing Kirchner for the investigations.
Tortured commandoes were Army troopers that voluntarily accepted to take part of the course. However, Human Rights organizations believe the military also used young conscripts to perfect criminal contra insurgency methods.
Picture: Argentine commandoes tortured in a military training camp in the province of Cordoba (1986).