The Human Rights Actions Network rights/actions/


Clinton Visit to Argentina

        To: all HR and solidarity organizations in USA

        From: Peace and Justice Service, Argentina, September 25, 1997

        As you may probably know, President Clinton will visit  Argentina 
        between  october  16 and 18. We are asking you  to  remember  the 
        "disappeared" and the Madres de Plaza de Mayo. Here is our  call. 

        Thanks  to pay attention to it, and to let us know what  you  are 
        able/willing to do,... Juan DW, Serpaj


        By: Serpaj Buenos Aires Team (special thanks to John B. from the  
            American University)    September 1997

            SERPAJ (Peace and Justice Service)
            Piedras, 730, (1070) Buenos Aires, Argentina
            Phone/fax: 54-1-361.5745, email:

        In  its 1995 report on Argentina the United Nations Human  Rights 
        Committee  commented  on several areas of  concern.   First,  the 
        Committee expressed its concern that victims of past human rights 
        violations  were often not receiving a fair or sufficient  remedy 
        for their suffering.  Second, the Committee expressed regret that 
        while  evidence presented against military officers  involved  in 
        forced  disappearances,  extrajudicial executions,  torture,  and 
        other  human rights violations might in some cases prevent  their 
        promotion, it rarely results in their dismissal.  

        One  example  of this is the case of  Lieutenant  Colonel  Carlos 
        Villanueva.  While he was being considered for promotion, in June 
        1997, allegations arose that he had participated in torture in  a 
        clandestine  detention center known as La Perla.  While  evidence 
        against  the officer certainly threatened his  possibilities  for 
        promotion, his dismissal from the military was never at stake.

        The Committee also expressed concern over threats against members 
        of the judiciary system and the press.  It expressed concern that 
        such  threats  and attacks could potentially  endanger  both  the 
        integrity  of the judicial system and the freedom of  expression. 

        The  recent  death  of photo journalist  Jos‚  Luis  Cabezas,  on 
        January  25,  1997, illustrates the continued  urgency  of  these 
        concerns.  The press and the judicial system can not be  expected 
        to operate effectively when their safety is compromised.

        One  of the Committee's suggestions was that all members  of  the 
        security  forces  involved in gross human  rights  violations  be 
        removed  from their posts.  Unfortunately, many former  torturers 
        and  human  rights abusers remain in positions of  power  in  the 
        military,  in  the police and in local, provincial  and  national 
        governments.  One example of this is the case of the (now) former 
        director  of  police  intelligence in the  province  of  Cordoba, 
        Carlos Yanicelli.  While considerable amounts of evidence suggest 
        that he was a torturer during the time (1974-1980) he worked with 
        the D-2 intelligence group, he continued to retain a position  of 
        considerable  power  and  authority until July 2,  1997.  He  was 
        finally  removed  as a result of continued denunciations  by  his 
        former  victims.   Cases  like that of Yanicelli  only  serve  to 
        foster  an atmosphere of impunity.  While people  like  Yanicelli 
        remain in positions of power, it will be difficult for  Argentina 
        to  make  the  transition  from  an  authoritarian  state  to   a 
        democratic one capable of respecting human rights.

        Another case is that of ex-captain Alfredo Astiz.  Even though it 
        appears  that  he is now permanently removed  from  his  military 
        post, he will not be deported to France where he stands convicted 
        of  the  murders  of two French nuns.   Unfortunately,  even  the 
        simple removal of Astiz from the military seems to have been more 
        a  result  of  prodding by the French government  than  from  any 
        initiative from within the Argentine government.

        Sadly,  the  above cases are not unique.   Former  torturers  and 
        repressors  can be found today in positions of  power  throughout 
        Argentina.    The  (elected) Mayor of Escobar (a  small  town  in 
        Buenos Aires Province) is former director of police Luis Patti, a 
        well-known  torturer; the (elected) Governor of Tucuman  Province 
        is  former  General Antonio Domingo Bussi, who  can  walk  freely 
        because  of  the "Final Act" law, one of the  laws  giving  total 
        impunity to repressors. 


        The case of the "desaparecidos", or disappeared, in Argentina has 
        touched  the lives of several U.S. citizens as well.  Aside  from 
        the suffering and sorrow caused by the kidnappings and murders of 
        thousands  of  Argentines,  a  handful  of  U.S.  citizens   were 
        "disappeared" as well.  These sad cases  illustrate this horrific 
        period  of Argentine history  and the unfortunate  connection  of 
        several U.S. citizens to it.

        Billy Lee Hunt was born in 1948 in Lebanon, Tennessee.  Later he, 
        his  mother, and his sister moved to Argentina.  There Billy  Lee 
        attended school through college and played in a band called  "Los 
        Caraveles".   In 1977 Billy Lee disappeared.  At the time he  had 
        been studying journalism and working in a small shop.  It is  now 
        understood  that  he was picked up on April 8, 1977  in  downtown 
        Mendoza  by  several armed men wearing  plain  clothes.   Despite 
        considerable  efforts  on the part of his family,  he  was  never 
        heard from again.  Later, his family came to discover that  Billy 
        Lee  had  been  arrested  by an army  unit,  taken  to  a  secret 
        detention center, and never seen again.

        Toni Motta was born in Brooklyn, New York City in 1948.  In  1980 
        she  accompanied  an Italian friend to Argentina.   That  friend, 
        Salvatore  Privitera,  had been deported from  Argentina  a  year 
        earlier,  after having been detained and tortured for  some  five 
        years for alleged ties to a guerilla organization.  At that  time 
        Ms. Motta was working as a journalist.  She disappeared  together 
        with  her Italian friend, never to be seen again.  Her fate,  and 
        his,  is  still unknown.  However it is unlikely that  either  is 
        still alive.

        Jon  Arozarena  was born to U.S. parents in  Venezuela  in  1951. 
        Later  in  life  he moved to Buenos Aires,  Argentina,  with  his 
        family.   He disappeared from his home in Argentina in 1977.   He 
        was  forced  from his home at gunpoint by several  men  in  plain 
        clothes as were many other unfortunate people living in Argentina 
        during those times. He was never heard from again despite several 
        writs of habeas corpus filed by family members on his behalf.

        Sadly  enough these three cases do not stand alone.  Other  names 
        like Patricia Erb and Patrick Egan join the list of U.S. citizens 
        disappeared in Argentina.  And more names are still waiting to be 
        discovered.   While  Erb survived her ordeal, many did  not.   If 
        justice  is  to be had both in Argentina and the  United  States, 
        these cases must be investigated and pursued.  Those  responsible 
        for these brutal acts should face justice and be held accountable 
        for  their crimes.  Only with justice can the people  touched  by 
        these  horrible crimes begin to find peace and reconciliation  in 
        their lives. 

        In October President Clinton will be making an important trip  to 
        Argentina.  It is essential to take advantage of this opportunity 
        to bring these issues to the forefront for the President, and the 
        American  people as a whole.  Impunity in Argentina is  an  issue 
        relevant  to  everyone and must be handled with the help  of  the 
        international community. 

        We  ask  that people call or write to the White House  and  their 
        Congressional  representatives  and ask that the  following  four 
        issues be adressed during President Clinton's visit.

        1.   We ask for the completion of Resolution 28-92 of the  Inter-
        American  Human  Rights Commission that states that the  laws  of 
        final  act,  due obedience, and the decree of pardon  (laws  that 
        grant  amnesty  to members of the military  and  security  forces 
        involved   in   human  rights   violations)   are   fundamentally 
        incompatible  with  the  right  to  justice  under  the  American 
        Convention  on Human Rights. The resolution also states that  the 
        Argentine government should provide a just compensation to  those 
        people whose rights were violated. The resolution recomends  that 
        the Argentine government adopt the necessary means to clarify and 
        identify  those  individuals guilty of  human  rights  violations 
        during the military dictatorship.

        2.  We  also  ask  that  the  Argentine  government  follow   the 
        Commission's  suggestion  to remove former human  rights  abusers 
        from  current  offices  and  positions  of  power.   It  is  also 
        important that the Argentine government exercise more  discretion 
        when granting pardons and amnesties so as not to foster a general 
        state of impunity.

        3.  We also ask that the Argentine government make public all  of 
        its documents and records dealing with disappeared persons.  

        4. Finally we ask that all kidnapped and disappeared children  be 
        returned to their families of origin.

        The   completion  of  these  goals  will  be  difficult   without 
        solidarity and support from the United States and the rest of the 
        international   community.   Please  contact  the   White   House 
        (  and your  Congresspersons  expressing 
        your interest and concern over these important issues.

        You  can  send  copy  to Clarin  (a  major  Argentine  newspaper) 
        reporter in Washington DC: fax number: 202-737.4853  

The Human Rights Actions Network

Human Rights in Argentina

Derechos | Index | Contact Us | Search

The Human Rights Action Network, a part of Derechos Human Rights, distributes appeals on behalf of victims of human rights violations. You are invited to join the network. Please check the date of the present action and do not write if it's over a month old.