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Part V
The Doctrine behind the Repression

Nunca Más (Never Again) - Report of Conadep  - 1984


In his speech to Congress on 10 December 1983, President Dr Raúl Alfonsín condemned the Doctrine of National Security 'used to prevent the free, frank and spontaneous life of our people'. in Decree No. 158/83, which ruled that the members of the Military Junta stand trial, the National Executive stated:

Thousands of people were illegally deprived of their freedom, tortured and killed as a result of the repressive measures inspired by the totalitarian Doctrine of National Security.

The Puebla Document published by the Third Conference of Latin American Bishops in 1979, stated in its 'Thoughts on Political Violence'No. 547:

The last few years have seen the growing importance in our continent of the so-called Doctrine of National Security, which is in fact more ideology than doctrine. It is linked to a certain elitist, hierarchical, political and economic model which denies the vast majority of the population any part in political decision-making. In certain Latin American countries it is even justified in terms of defending Western, Christian civilization. It has developed a repressive apparatus to reinforce its concept of 'permanent warfare'. In some cases its intentions are clearly political.

On 4 January 1981, as part of his series entitled 'The Defeat of Subversion. The Rise and Fall of Guerrilla Groups in Argentina' in the newspaper La Razón, General Camps wrote:

In Argentina we were Influenced first by the French and then by the United States. We used their methods separately at first and then together, until the United States' ideas finally predominated. France and the United States were our main sources of counter-insurgency training. They organized centres for teaching counterinsurgency techniques (especially in the US) and sent out instructors, observers, and an enormous amount of literature.

The Doctrine of National Security places Argentina firmly within the framework of the conflict between the Superpowers in a Third World War. This is perceived as total, definitive war in defence of a subjective view of nationality.

General Onganía had said back in September 1965:

'We are committed to the common cause of the Americas, that is, to defend our Western, Christian way of life against the advances of red totalitarianism' (La Razón, 22 September 1965).

General Camps also said in an interview in the magazine La Semana on 3 February 1983:

We have to look at this globally and strategically, since Argentina is merely one theatre of operations in a global confrontation between Moscow and the United States. What the Soviet Union wants is not to destabilize Argentina but to destabilize the United States, and for this it needs the help of other governments in the region.

In an article in Carta Politica in 1976, Nicolis Costa Méndez wrote:

Being a member of the Group of Non-Aligned Countries is the extreme expression of a position. Argentina is in fact aligned with the United States ...
Belonging to the Non-Aligned Group could separate us from our old friends and allies.

In La Prensa of 3 November 1981, General Galtieri declared:

The First World War was a confrontation between armies, the Second was between nations, and the Third Is between ideologies. The United States and Argentina must stand together because of their common concerns and aspirations.

In a speech to the US Congress in 1963, President Kennedy's then Secretary of Defense, Robert MacNamara, declared:

The best return on our investment in military aid probably comes from the training of selected Army officers and key specialists in our military academies and training centres in the US and abroad. These students are carefully selected by their countries so that they in turn become instructors when they go home. They are the leaders of the future, the men who have the skills and will instruct their own Armed Forces. I don't need to dwell on the value of having people in positions of power who have a first-hand knowledge of how we think and act here in the United States. For us having these people as friends is invaluable ... 

At the time of President Johnson's swearing in, MacNamara told the US Congress:

Our primary objective in Latin America is to aid, wherever necessary, the continual growth of the military and paramilitary forces, so that together with the police and other security forces, they may provide the necessary internal security.

At the Fifth Conference of American Armies held at West Point on 6 August 1964, the Commander-in-Chief of the Argentine Army, General Onganía, made a speech in which he referred to the subordination of,the Armed Forces to civilian government:

It is clear that this duty to obey - referring to the authority of the government - will no longer be absolutely sovereign if, under the influence of exotic ideologies, the government exceeds its powers and presents a threat to the basic principles of a republican political system, or brings about a violent disturbance to the equilibrium of independence of our respective powers ...

Since the people are powerless to exercise this right by themselves, it is the duty of the institutions which the people have armed and given the mission to sustain the effective validity of the Constitution, to act on their behalf. (War Office Bulletin No. 3411, Buenos Aires, 10 September 1964.)

This overthrow of powers is one of the main principles underlying the Doctrine of National Security. It perceives the Armed Forces as the last bulwark of morality against the ethical decline of civilian power and its behaviour in government, as the only body capable of maintaining ideological strength. In so doing it distorts the whole cultural, religious, family, economic, and judicial system.

The Governor of Buenos Aires province, General Manuel Ibérico Saint Jean, stated:

It is not true that the people are always right, that they never make mistakes, The masses as a whole cannot know what individuals do not know and are, therefore, not omniscient. They make mistakes like everyone else.

In a speech at the Admiral Marcos Zar Naval Base, the then Captain Horacio Mayorga stated:

Ours is a healthy institution. It is not contaminated by the ulcer of extremism, nor by a Third World adulteration which does not recognize the true Christ, nor by the tortuous and demagogic attitudes of hypocritical politicians who adopt an attitude one day and forget it the next.

Asked by a journalist about the need for a thorough investigation into the problem of the disappeared, General Viola replied:

I think you are suggesting that we investigate the Security Forces - that is absolutely out of the question. This is a war and we are the winners. You can be certain that in the last war if the armies of the Reich had won, the war crimes trials would have taken place in Virginia, not in Nuremberg. (Clarín, 18 March 1981.)

In his presidential speech on 10 December 1983, Dr Alfonsín stressed that:

Our recent history has been characterized by frequent and lengthy periods of military intervention in the nation's politics. Apart from the negative effects these interventions have had on our institutions, they have also provoked an exceptionally profound and serious crisis. ... What both the military and civilians forget here, to the detriment of both the country and the Armed Forces, is that golden rule which applies in all civilized nations whatever their political system or ideology, which is that the Armed Forces should always be subordinate to the civilian authority established through democratic institutions.




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