Jorge “Tigre” Acosta, a former Navy captain and vicious torturer during Argentina’s 1976-1983 dictatorship, appeared to back the far-right ticket of Javier Milei and Victoria Villarruel in the presidential run-off in a letter written from prison on Tuesday.
Acosta was sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity in 2011 and 2017. He also received sentences of 30 and 24 years for crimes committed at the infamous Navy School of Mechanics, including kidnapping, torture, homicide, rape, and appropriation of children.
“The time is coming when the truth will out, but not that which they call the truth which emerged from the trials orchestrated by the ‘socialist homeland’,” Acosta wrote in the letter.
While he did not mention either candidate, he accused Vice President and former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her late husband, former President Néstor Kirchner, of participating in a guerrilla group in what he called the “Revoultionary Terrorist Trotskyist civil war” in the 1970s.
The former Navy captain said he has “no intention of interfering in the electoral process,” but that he is “convinced that the time for truth is drawing near.”
Massa, the economy minister and presidential candidate of President Alberto Fernández’s administration, was previously part of Néstor’s government. Although he drifted away from Kirchnerism for over a decade, he returned to the fold in 2019.
Acosta is one of the hundreds of repressors who were convicted after the annulment of the Punto Final and Obediencia Debida laws, which since the return of democracy in 1983 had protected repressors from being tried for their crimes. The annulment of those laws was approved by Congress in 2003 and promoted by Néstor Kirchner during his presidency. These are the trials Acosta said were “orchestrated by the ‘socialist homeland.’”
Villarruel, Milei’s running-mate, has long campaigned on denialist arguments that the attacks carried out by guerrilla groups in the 1970s were equivalent to the systematic torture, murder and forced disappearances perpetrated by the dictatorship, claiming the lives of 30,000 people. Villarruel and Milei himself have also disputed the number of disappeared, another staple of denialist discourse in Argentina.
Acosta was the head of the task group that was in charge of the Navy School of Mechanics, the largest clandestine torture and extermination center during the country’s last dictatorship.
His proven victims include writer Rodolfo Walsh, Mothers of Plaza de Mayo co-founders Azucena Villaflor, Mary Bianco and Ester de Careaga, and the French nuns Leonie Duquet and Alice Domon. The women were killed by being thrown out of planes in the death flights.
Acosta dedicated most of the letter to arguing that guerrillas put bombs in kindergartens, as Milei accused former contender — and newfound ally — Patricia Bullrich of doing in her youth. The letter was published in the website Prisionero en Argentina (Prisoner in Argentina), which advocates for the repressors’ impunity.