By turns maudlin and bellicose, Victoria Villarruel, Javier Milei’s vice presidential candidate in the La Libertad Avanza coalition, staged an “homage to the victims of terrorism” on Monday evening at the Buenos Aires City Legislature. The event’s stated purpose was to honor those killed in guerrilla operations led by the Montoneros and the People’s Revolutionary Army (ERP, by its Spanish acronym) during the 1970s.
“After 40 years of an amputated vision of human rights and demonization, we’re not afraid anymore,” Villarruel told a captive audience. The outspoken apologist for the civic-military dictatorship that ruled from 1976 to 1983 added that “for 40 years, the victims of terrorism were swept under the rug and ignored. None of these victims have received justice or known the truth about what they suffered, nor have they been awarded even moral reparations. They suffered at the hands of those who wanted to impose left-wing tyranny.”
As the journalist and author Uki Goñi has pointed out on X, the website formerly known as Twitter, this is not the case. More than 60 guerrillas were put on trial “before, during, and after the dictatorship.” They were also extrajudicially murdered, with the majority either tortured and killed in clandestine detention centers or thrown from planes into the ocean and the Rio de la Plata.
“The state is violating our human rights to provide impunity for a group of violent people who today enjoy freedom and the guarantees that our democracy gives them,” Villarruel said.
The tribute concluded with a rendition of the Argentine national anthem, the audience’s voices rising to a shout with the lyrics “Libertad! Libertad! Libertad!” (“Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!”).
Villarruel has lent credence to a discredited theory known as “La Teoría de los Dos Demonios” (“The Theory of the Two Demons”), which holds that the Argentine military and guerrilla fighters were two opposing forces in a civil war.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets ahead of the event to voice their dissent. At least two people were detained outside of the Buenos Aires City Legislature, located on Calle Peru downtown.
Estela de Carlotto, president of the human rights organization Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, was vociferous in her condemnation of the “homage.”
“At this crucial moment that we’re living, in which we’re choosing our next government for a country that has so many needs, this person (Villarruel) comes out with a story that has already been written and proven,” Carlotto told Radio Con Vos. “She lies and proposes all this in order to create chaos in society so that we fight among ourselves.”
In 2006, Villarruel founded the Civil Association of the Victims of Argentine Terrorism (CELTYV, by its Spanish acronym), which aims to provide financial reparations for the families of those impacted by guerrilla warfare.
Both her father and great uncle were military officers who participated in illegal acts of repression that included “kidnapping, torture, murder, disappearances, and robbery of children,” according to the human rights non-profit Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS, by its Spanish acronym).
–With information from Télam