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Outrage flares in Argentina as former dictator breaks silence about 'Dirty War'

Jorge Videla admitted last week that the military regime killed thousands during the late 1970s and early 80s, when he was in power. But many see his confession as justification, not remorse.

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In the main square of Parque Patricios, a working class neighborhood in south Buenos Aires, the outlines of 121 human bodies are painted in white on the ground. They represent the people from that area who were killed or “disappeared” – along with some 30,000 others – during Argentina’s Dirty War.

The war was perpetrated by the right-wing military dictatorship which ruled in Argentina from 1976 to 1983 and put the country through a National Reorganization Process that constituted seven years of state terrorism and human rights violations.  And now the de facto president throughout most of the regime has provoked outrage in Argentina by admitting for the first time that the dictatorship killed “7,000 or 8,000 people” and disappeared the bodies “so as not to provoke protests.”

Jorge Videla headed the coup that brought the military to power and ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1981. He was sentenced to life imprisonment during the Trial of the Juntas in 1985 for crimes against humanity, but was pardoned in 1990 by former President Carlos Menem. However, after the government of Néstor Kirchner overturned Mr. Menem’s impunity laws, Mr. Videla was reconvicted in 2010 and sent to the Campo de Mayo prison for life.

An official report released in 1984 called Nunca Más, Never Again in English, says 9,000 left-wing militants and sympathizers were disappeared by three of the four juntas that held power. That figure, however, is popularly deemed an underestimate and, today, it is recognized that around 30,000 people were murdered by the state.

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