BUENOS AIRES – Humanitarian, political and social associations on Tuesday were in the forefront of activities all across Argentina marking the 39th anniversary of the military coup that ushered in seven years of state terrorism blamed for as many as 30,000 deaths.
In Buenos Aires, two separate marches were held that provided evidence of the existing differences among the public on the human rights policy of President Cristina Fernandez, especially her decision to maintain Gen. Cesar Milani as army chief despite questions about his actions under the 1976-1983 regime.
Thousands of people gathered at 4 p.m. in the central Plaza de Mayo.
From the loudspeakers on the stage set up on the plaza could be heard “30,000 disappeared,” to which the crowd responded “Present!”
With photographs of some of the disappeared in their hands and printed on posters, t-shirts and signs posted along the march route, the victims of the military regime became the protagonists of the demonstration.
“It moves me to see that the plaza is completely full, that all of Argentine society is defending the memory,” said Ana Gomez, a teacher attending the demonstration for the first time with her 3-year-old daughter Elenas.
In the column of one activist organization was a large vulture from which hung signs with the names of companies accused of collaborating with the dictatorship, including automakers Fiat and Mercedes Benz and Argentine media conglomerate Clarin.
After them, came a youth organization from Fernandez’s party carrying an effigy of her late husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, who annulled the amnesty laws that protected the junta and its agents, opening the door to the resumption of trials for crimes against humanity.
Leftist opposition forces and humanitarian organizations critical of the government opted to gather in front of Congress, where they demanded the resignation of Milani, who is being investigated for the disappearance of a soldier during the regime.
“We’re not going to the official gatherings that only appeal to memory (and do not) speak about the present,” said the Workers’ Leftist Front candidate for Buenos Aires mayor, Myriam Bregman.
Elsewhere around the country, marches, festivals and memorial gatherings were also held on Tuesday, which is an official holiday.