Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fidel Castro, the Argentine Military Junta and the Dirty War

“They say, 'means are, after all, means'. I would say, 'means are, after all, everything'. As the means so the end.” - Mohandas Gandhi

Justice has arrived for General Jorge Videla, the former de facto head of Argentina from 1976 to 1981, was sentenced to life in prison on December 22, 2010 for being "criminally responsible" for the torture and deaths of 31 prisoners in Cordoba. The world is again looking at the events during Argentina's "Dirty War" and the Cuban regime's complicated involvement bears closer examination.

The current Cuban government in power since 1959 has a long history of supporting urban guerrilla movements and training terrorists. The Heritage Foundation in its Backgrounder #289 "The Castro Doctrine Makes Gains" described the regime's efforts in Argentina:
Throughout the 1970s, Cuba provided training and tactical advice to Argentina's two most powerful terrorist groups: the Montoneros and the Peoples' Revolutionary Army (ERP At one time Cuba used its Buenos Aires embassy to maintain direct contact with those groups. When the Argentine government decisively suppressed the two groups in 1978, Cuba permitted Montoneros to establish headquarters (and later, intelligence facilities, labor union organizational apparatus, and top command facilities) on Cuban soil.

From there, Montoneros groups are sent to infiltrate Argentina and to participate in Internationalist brigades," such as those that fought with the Sandinista guerrillas. Argentina is the home base of the Junta de Coordinación Revolucionaria (JCR) founded in February 1974 to coordinate the activities of guerrilla movements in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia. The JCR was disbanded in 1977 but reactivated in the summer of 1979 following the Sandinista victory in Nicaragua.

None of the above should surprise anyone with a basic knowledge of the Cuban revolution and its ideological underpinnings and the 1966 Tricontinental meeting in Havana. However, there is another side to the Cuban government's relationship with Argentina that does offer surprises

On the picture on the right is Fidel Castro with Argentine foreign minister Nicanor Costa Mendez, one of the planners of the Falkland's invasion, of the Argentine military junta that extra-judicially executed and disappeared as many as 30,000 Argentinians between 1976 and 1983 in the Dirty War meeting in Havana at the Non-Aligned Movement gathering. He died of lung cancer on August 3, 1992.

That is not the only member of the junta that Castro commiserated with because he was also photographed here on the left with "President"
Reynaldo Benito Antonio Bignone Ramayón who, like Fidel Castro then and Raul Castro today , was"President" in name only, but in reality a brutal military dictator between 1982 and 1983. On April 20, 2010, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the kidnapping, torture, and murder of 56 people in a concentration camp.

Whereas groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International sought to expose the Dirty War and stop it and to later document the crimes committed and along with the victims demand justice
the Cuban government did everything at the time to block efforts to investigate the disappearances from their perch at the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

This leads to the obvious question: Why? There appear to be two answers and both involve Jimmy Carter. In December of 1979 when the Soviet Union launched a large scale invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter responded with boycotting the 1980 Olympics in Moscow and a grain embargo. Secondly, one of the hallmarks of the Carter Presidency was to focus on human rights as a foreign policy priority. The United States went after gross human rights abusers, including strategic allies, such as Somoza in Nicaragua; Pinochet in Chile; and the Military Junta in Argentina.

This combination of factors led to the Military Junta in Argentina breaking the U.S. grain embargo on the Soviet Union in 1980 and becoming close trade partners with the Soviet Union. At the same time a human rights focus did not play into the interests of the Cuban government because it systematically violates human rights. The condemnation of the military junta in Argentina for gross human rights violations would soon lead to the condemnation of the Cuban communist regime for its own gross human rights violations. This led to Fidel Castro and the Cuban regime backing the military junta in international forums like the United Nations Human Rights Commission and inviting members of the military junta to Havana to drink champagne with Fidel Castro.

The same Cuban regime that trained and placed urban guerrillas in Argentina creating the conditions that led to the existence of the military junta then forged an unusual alliance with it to the detriment of the very people it had trained.


  1. The break with the US and alliance with the Sovietic union was a big mistake that Argentina made. They suffered the consequences. I was there last year, staying in one of those furnished apartments in buenos aires and I realized how much people care about what happened in that period, it was really sad!

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  3. Thanks for the comments and no problems for places to stay in Argentina. A wonderful country and a great people. Hopefully one day the government will live up to it.