Dictatorship-era threat: green Ford Falcon parked outside Senate

The car favored by death squads was used as an apparent intimidation strategy this week and the Ministry for Women, Gender, and Diversities received bomb threats

Green Ford Falcons have been sighted outside the Senate and another ministry in an apparent intimidation strategy, according to reports made to the Herald. The vehicle was favored by the civic-military dictatorship and used by its “death squads,” continually cruising around in search of people to kidnap, torture, and murder.

One such Falcon was seen parked outside a Senate annex on both Tuesday and Wednesday with a Federal Police badge sitting on the dashboard behind the steering wheel. Federal Police told the Herald that they “are tracking that driver in order for measures to be taken in this case.” They did not confirm whether they had any prior knowledge or if action was being taken due to the evidence provided by the Herald.

“The symbolism of the green Falcon is extreme because our democracy is turning 40 and they were the emblem of kidnapping people during the darkest years of the Argentine civic-military dictatorship,” Beatriz Busaniche, president of the Vía Libre Foundation, told the Herald. “We’ve been seeing this in the last few days, people have been taking out their Falcons on the street without license plates and photos of [former dictator Jorge Rafael] Videla in the rear window.”

The image of the infamous green cars has made quite the reappearance in 2023, with many making the rounds on social media. Following Javier Milei’s presidential win on Sunday, an officer in Río Negro province was suspended after publishing a video of his green Ford Falcon leaving the garage and saying “thieves should hold onto their hats.” 

There have also been posts by military personnel who support vice-president-elect Victoria Villarruel — a known dictatorship apologist and defender of military officers convicted of crimes against humanity.

“In Argentina, we have a long history of repressing political dissidence and they’re not choosing the symbol of a uniformed police officer arresting people within an institutional framework,” said Ximena Tordini, communications director for the NGO Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS). “They’re choosing the Falcon, a symbol of a specific type of political repression — clandestine repression.”

Sources in the Senate told the Herald that the Ford Falcon was parked outside during the meeting between Villarruel and Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to discuss the government transition. 

You may also be interested in: Victoria Villarruel’s long and gruesome history of denying crimes against humanity

Villarruel — whose uncle was arrested in 2015 and charged with crimes committed in a clandestine center — has founded organizations with ties to the military aiming to seek reparations for those who died in actions carried out by guerrillas before and during the dictatorship. Her position, based on a “dirty war” theory typically referred to as “the two demons,” is that the dictatorship’s state-sponsored terrorism was an issue of “excesses” committed in self-defense against left-wing guerrilla groups. 

“It’s not that Villarruel is behind all of this, but we’re seeing right-wing violence from their base finding a standard bearer to give it meaning,” Tordini told the Herald. “What she did do for many years was create the conditions for a political revindication of the crimes committed by the state in the 1970s — that’s the climate in which the green Falcons are roaming around, it’s not in a vacuum.”

The Herald has also received reports of green Ford Falcons outside the Ministry for Women, Gender, and Diversities but could not verify them at the time of writing. Ministry staff had to be evacuated on Friday following two bomb threats, made specifically to the 144 helpline for those suffering gender-based violence. Federal Police found no bombs on the premises but 144 helpline workers issued a communiqué condemning an uptick in violence since the November 19 presidential run-off. 

“Not only are our jobs and livelihoods in danger but our work accompanying people who need us is being made more difficult,” said the communiqué, alluding to Milei’s plan to shutter the ministry. “Those who work on these issues within the 144 helpline know full well that violence can never be a path to development.

“To everyone who gets in touch with the helpline, we want to tell you that we are here and we will continue to defend its continuity.”

You may also be interested in: Between principle and practice: Argentina’s gender policies

Federal Police and Bomb Squad outside the Ministry for Women, Gender, and Diversities. Photo: Télam


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