Jorge Rafael Videla was head of the military junta and rose to power in Argentina on 24th March 1976 after deposing president Isabel Martinez de Perón, the third wife of Juan Domigo Perón. Alongside admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera and Orlando Agosti, Videla ruled Argentina de facto during the National Reorganisation Process or what is commonly referred to by Argentines as ‘El Proceso’.Videla graffiti stencils in Buenos Aires
Stencil graffiti of Videla and the figures behind the military junta can be found all over Buenos Aires. Former dictators Videla and Reynaldo Benito Bignone were convicted and condemned to life imprisonment in July 2012 for overseeing the systematic stealing of babies born in captivity during the military dictatorship in Argentina.
No More – Dictators Emilio Massera, Videla (centre) and Orlando Agosti
Videla and Bignone were each handed 50 year prison sentences for the “theft, imprisonment and hiding” of babies many of whom were born in clandestine maternity wards during the brutal regime known as the Dirty War. The trial lasted 15 months and investigated 35 cases of infant kidnapping (the real figure is estimated to be around 400). Bignone was the last miltary ruler during ‘La dictadura’ assuming power after the Malvinas-Falklands conflict. During the dictatorship (1976 to 1983) an estimated 30,000 people were kidnapped, tortured and murdered’ in one of the most horrific periods in Argentine history. Videla died on 17th May 2012 in the prison of Marcos Paz.
More than 30,000 reasons for popular justice
Stencils can be found all over the city calling for justice for the victims and their families. An unrepentant Videla testified that there was no systematic plan to steal babies and accused the pregnant mothers of “using their embryonic children as human shields.”
Imprisoned – Videla
In 2010, Videla received the maximum sentence as the figure responsible for 20 of the thefts along with Bignone who is already serving a life sentence for other crimes against humanity. Bignone is still behind bars despite an Argentine law that usually permits criminals over 70 to see out sentences at home.
Videla and kidnapping today and yesterday
The Ford Falcon, often blue or green in colour, was one of the symbols of the dictatorship and the car used by the police (Policia Federal Argentina) and military to carry out kidnappings. Victims were then taken to detention centres at ESMA in Nuñez, Campo de Mayo and El Pozo de Banfield were interrogated, beaten up, electrocuted, even raped or murdered. The stencil (above right) photographed in Villa Crespo has the words to “Ayer y hoy” meaning “Yesterday and today”, referring to kidnappings that were common a few years ago in Argentina, and the phrase “Represión, secuestro, tortura, asesinato”, meaning “Repression, kidnapping, torture, murder”.
Kidnap express – the Ford Falcon
A stencil in Almagro showing a kidnapping
Other ‘dissidents’ were murdered or their bodies were dumped out of aircraft into the Rio de la Plata. Many of these crimes took place while Argentina was hosting the 1978 World Cup.
Gauchito Kill and World Cup of Death ’78
During World Cup ’78, the shouts and screams of the excited crowd in River Plate’s Stadium could be heard by prisoners who were tortured in the nearby ESMA detention centre. Meanwhile, the military junta kept the true story away from the TV cameras and eyes of the world as Argentina went on to beat the Netherlands 3-1 in the final. These two stencils (above) that BA Street Art photographed are adaptions of the official World Cup ’78 mascot Gauchito and the tournament logo and paint a different picture.
Filthy World Cup ‘ 78 – stencil in San Nicolás
Another stencil in downtown Buenos Aires near 9 de Julio uses the world “inmundo” meaning “filthy” to mock the ‘Copa del Mundo 78’.
Among the nine others standing trial alongside Videla and Bignone, seven were convicted and two found not guilty. Most of them were ex-military or police personnel during the dictatorship. Antonio Vañek, who was in charge of the ESMA torture centre in Nuñez, was condemned to 40 years in prison, while his counterpart Jorge “Tigre” Acosta received a 30 year sentence. And the doctor of ESMA, Jorge Magnacco was given 10 years in prison, while the ex-captain Victor Gallo and his wife were given 15 and five years behind bars.
All photos © BA Street Art