Lt. Col. Guillermo Bruno Laborda was upset he didn't get the promotion to full colonel that he felt he deserved. So he wrote an angry letter to Argentine army brass last month detailing the "meritorious" acts of his 28 years of military service.
As a young lieutenant in the late 1970s, he wrote, he had personally executed prisoners, and then set their bodies on fire, just as his superiors had ordered. He had shot a young mother a day after she delivered her baby, and then tossed the woman's body into a hole and set it on fire too.
During Argentina's "dirty war" against leftist activists and urban guerrillas, these "were considered true and unavoidable acts of service," he wrote, and all the emotional pain he had endured because of them should be taken into account in the decision on his promotion.
Bruno Laborda's chilling letter -- complete with the final words of many of his victims -- marks the first time the military has made public an acting officer's confession to his role in illegal executions during Argentina's bloody years of dictatorship and repression. Not long after he submitted it, the military had him arrested.
Although reported in the Argentine media with little fanfare, the case demonstrates a shift in the country's military culture. It is widely believed here that officers seeking promotion routinely made arguments similar to those of Bruno Laborda's but that they were kept secret....(complete story)
Monday, June 21, 2004
Don't cry for me, Argentine torturers
Héctor Tobar, a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, found this under-reported story in the Argentine press, about what happens these days to Argentine military who still think that the atrocities of the dirty war should be cause for promotion. It's worth a look:
Posted by David at 7:41 PM