Dark years of civil-military dictatorship have left deep, lasting scars among Argentineans. In addition to 30,000 people being kidnapped, tortured, killed, and made to disappear in the 1970´s and 80´s, around 500 babies were stolen from female political prisoners held in detention centers and then given for adoption to couples “friendly” to the brutal regime.
Justice, however, “has finally been served” human rights activists and victims´ families told Press TV outside Buenos Aires Federal Court as they waived their flags that remembered their loved ones, waiting for a verdict that took 36 years to come.
Former Argentine dictators Jorge Rafael Videla and Reynaldo Bignone have been sentenced to 50 and 15 years in prison respectively and found guilty of masterminding a “systematic baby theft plan”.
Role of world-renowned organization Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo has been vital to the trial, as its members have strongly campaigned to find their stolen grandchildren over the past decades. Victoria Montenegro is one of the 105 young men and women who have been able to recover her identity.
Videla ruled the country from 1976 to 1981, Bignone from 1982 to 1983. Both of them are already serving time for atrocious crimes against humanity. Meanwhile, 6 ex-officers and a doctor who helped deliver many of the babies have also received lengthy jail sentences.
Human rights have become a state policy in Argentina since 2003, when late husband of president Cristina Fernandez Nestor Kirchner took office and amnesty laws protecting former military officials were declared null and void by the National Congress.