Operation Condor-Era Argentine Dictator Gets Life Imprisonment

  • Former Argentine military dictator Reynaldo Bignone.

    Former Argentine military dictator Reynaldo Bignone. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 March 2017 (11 hours 51 minutes ago)
Former military dictator Reynaldo Bignone was convicted for “crimes against humanity” against leftist activists.

An Argentine federal court on Wednesday sentenced former military dictator Reynaldo Bignone to life imprisonment for his role in kidnapping, torturing and murdering anti-government protesters during the 1970s and 80s.

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Bignone, along with six other former military leaders, were convicted for “crimes against humanity.” He was also charged for human rights violations against conscripts of Argentina’s Military College that occurred between 1976 and 1977.

Dubbed “Argentina’s last dictator,” Bignone ruled as president from 1982 to 1983, representing the country’s right-wing military dictatorship that arose during the Dirty War.

The Dirty War was Argentina’s offshoot of Operation Condor, a Cold War-era campaign of violence across Latin America. Through the campaign, which resulted in tens of thousands of activist deaths, the U.S. teamed up with right-wing military dictatorships to extinguish leftist movements.

With help from death squads, Argentina’s military dictatorship ruthlessly murdered thousands of left-wing students, journalists, labor leaders and armed militants. Bignone, who played a leading role in organizing the Dirty War, oversaw the mass disappearance of socialist activists throughout his tenure.

“This ruling, about the coordination of military dictatorships in the Americas to commit atrocities, sets a powerful precedent to ensure that these grave human rights violations do not ever take place again in the region,” Human Rights Watch Americas director told Reuters last year, when Bignone was first found guilty.

Last month, Argentina’s former army chief Cesar Milani was arrested on charges related to the kidnapping and torture of three people during the Dirty War. Milani, a retired general who headed Argentina’s military from 2012 to 2015, was arrested in the northern province of La Rioja.

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His arrest was part of Federal Judge Daniel Herrera’s investigation into the 1977 kidnapping and torture of Pedro Olivera and his son Ramon, as well as the 1976 abduction of then 17-year-old Verónica Matta.

“We are happy because we believe, somehow, that we are on the path to really having justice done,” Ramon Olivera, one of the accusers, told Todo Noticias television. “It is an auspicious thing that Milani was detained.”

Both Bignone and Milani were close allies of the U.S. during their time in office.


‘Race Relations’ A Bigger Deal in US Than Before Bush: Poll

  • Protesters rally in Times Square in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin trial, July 2013. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 March 2017

A new Gallup poll also shows Democrats significantly more concerned about race relations than Republicans and Independents.

More people in the U.S. are worried about race relations now than in the past two decades, according to a Gallup poll released on Thursday.

US Race Relations in Tatters, Says Poll

About 42 percent of respondents said they “personally worry” a “great deal” about race, a significant jump for the third consecutive year. The rate was lowest, at 13 percent, shortly after former president Barack Obama took office.

Respondents were also asked the party they belong to; Republicans, despite being blamed for capitalizing on identity politics under Trump, polled the lowest and were the only to have the same numbers as last year. Democrats polled at 30 points higher, at 59 percent who are concerned, while Independents were for the first time significantly above the Republicans.

“Race relations or racism has emerged as one of the top issues on Gallup’s most important problem list, rising from 1 percent to 3 percent of Americans mentioning the issue throughout much of 2014 to 18 percent doing so in July 2016 after incidents of violence between police and black men, making it the most important problem that month,” wrote Gallup.

Gallup added that Black Lives Matter, Donald Trump and increasingly visible police brutality are likely driving the trend up.

“Whether the overall amount of worry about this issue goes up or down in the coming year will likely depend on how many high-profile (police brutality) incidents occur and how Americans react to Trump’s comments and actions related to race.”


United States Race & ethnicity Polls Racism Politics


by teleSUR / nrc-DB

Israel Is Now Officially an ‘Apartheid State’: UN

  • A Palestinian woman takes belongings from her partially destroyed home across the street from where a building was targeted by Israeli airstrikes, Aug. 26, 2014.

    A Palestinian woman takes belongings from her partially destroyed home across the street from where a building was targeted by Israeli airstrikes, Aug. 26, 2014. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 March 2017
The report has confirmed what Palestinians have been saying for decades.

Through a system of racial segregation and discrimination, Israel has been carrying out an “apartheid regime” against Palestinian populations, according to a new report released by the United Nations.

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The report by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, ESCWA, found that “on the basis of overwhelming evidence … Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid,” which “dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”

The main way that Israel carries out its apartheid system is through “strategic fragmentation” whereby Palestinians are split into four different oppressed groups. “Three of them (citizens of Israel, residents of East Jerusalem and the populace under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza) living under direct Israeli rule and the remainder, refugees and involuntary exiles, living beyond,” the ESCWA said.

Rima Khalaf, ESCWA secretary-general, said the report shows that Israel is a “racist state” as she expressed hope that the report would spur action and end apartheid as opposed to merely highlight the problem.

While states played an important role in condemning Israeli apartheid, civil society, activists, the media and the private sector were all seen as important actors who could help shift public opinion, call on sanctions and boycott commercial activities that eventually “aid and abet the apartheid regime.”

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The report looked at the definition of apartheid through the lens of international law, stemming heavily from the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Apartheid. Others, however, have also condemned the state of Israel for political and economic apartheid.

Israeli authorities are yet to comment on the report, but previously criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians has led to counter claims of anti-Semitism. The authors of the report noted how Israel commonly uses anti-Semitism in a “new guise” by claiming that critics are intent on “destroying Israel’s image and isolating it as a pariah state.”

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