29 Dec 1990
Today has been the biggest victory for leader impunity since the days of the junta. Carolas Menem pardoned Videla, Massera, and their entire band of brutes. They murdered my friends, and made me fear for my life everyday for six years. All that grief, all that anguish, to be pardoned as a political maneuver? My heart sinks today for Argentina.
I was immediately brought back to a day four years ago when I got a call from Maria, the wife of my dear friend Roberto in the dead of night. Roberto’s remains had been discovered in a mass grave in Cordoba, she muttered. Her voice did not quiver, or even shake. We were both silent for a long time.
We exchange a phone call every few months. I haven’t seen the boys in quite some time— I think the eldest will be in high school soon. Time moves at a remarkable pace. I wonder how she’s doing today. I think I’ll call tomorrow.
I’m devastated. I can’t believe that this is the travesty that marks the ends of the months and years I’ve dedicated covered the trials of Videla and Massera. After their incarceration, Alfonsin’s presidency has only ushered in one disappointment after the other. The amnesty laws he passed were an act of cowardice. The “Punto Final” and “Obedencia Debida” laws signal signal his resignation to the military officials. He is powerless. These laws were particularly devastating to me because they gave amnesty to the officers and policemen who were responsible for Roberto’s death.
Jacobo, my old faithful, published an op-ed today that I have to redact here, for posterity’s sake. It’s been so long that I forgot to mention that Jacobo is a guest editor at the magazine.He writes the occasional op-ed, but the spark in his eye is slowly diminishing. He’s tired, and so desperately just wants to see a semblance of justice.
” In April 1977, General Carlos Guillermo Suarez Mason ordered my kidnapping in Buenos Aires. A few days ago this man, the cruelest leader of the dirty war, was released from prison, pardoned by President Carlos Saúl Menem. Argentina had obtained his extradition from the US, charged with 43 murders and the kidnapping of 24 people who have since disappeared. During those months of 1977, Colonel Ramon Camps the most brutal torturer of the dirty war, was in charge of the torture I suffered during interrogation. A few days ago he too was set free, pardoned by Mr. Menem. He had been accused of 214 extortionist kidnappings; 120 cases of torture, 32 homicides; two rapes; two abortions resulting from torture; 18 thefts; and the kidnappings of 10 minors who have disappeared.
The thugs directly responsible for his kidnapping and torture—General Suarez Mason and his Batallon de Intellgencia 601 were pardoned today to. I don’t know how to ease his anguish. He has little hope for the future at this point, claiming that totalitarianism is slipping back on the horizon. He told a colleague that he has a recurring nightmare of running into a former torturer at a supermarket. I cannot even begin to fathom his pain. He writes the occasional op-ed, but the spark in his eye is slowly diminishing. He’s tired, and so desperately just wants to see a semblance of justice. I’ll be waiting with him.