Montoneros - Under Jorge Videla's Junta

Under Jorge Videla's Junta

On 24 March 1976 Isabel Perón was ousted and a military junta installed, led by General Jorge Rafael Videla. On 4 April 1976, Montoneros assassinated a naval commander (Jose Guillermo Burgos), a Chrysler executive (Jorge Ricardo Kenny) and ambushed and killed three policemen in a patrol car. On 26 April 1976, Montoneros guerrillas killed Colonel Abel Héctor Elías Cavagnaro outside his home in Tucumán province. During the first few months of the military government, more than 70 policemen were killed in leftist guerrilla attacks. On 11 August 1976, urban guerrillas dressed like policemen intercept and kill army corporal Jorge Antonio Bulacio, with two shots to the head and set fire with Molotov bomb cocktails his military lorry belonging to the 141st Headquarters Communications Battalion.

On 4 January 1977, Montoneros guerrillas shot and killed Private Guillermo Félix Dimitri of the 10th Mechanized Infantry Brigade on a drive-by shooting while he was on roadblock duty outside the Chrysler factory in the San Justo suburb of Buenos Aires. On 15 February 1977, army corporal Osvaldo Ramón Ríos was killed after his patrol came under fire from a group of Montoneros that had barricaded themselves inside a house in the Ezpeleta suburb of Buenos Aires. On 23 May 1977, the leftist guerrillas in Buenos Aires killed two policemen and a retired inspector as he entered his home.

The Junta redoubled the Dirty War anti-guerilla campaign. During 1977, in just Buenos Aires alone, 36 police were reported killed in actions involving urban guerrillas

On 14 August 1977 Susana Leonor Siver and her partner Marcelo Carlos Reinhold, both Montoneros fighters, were kidnapped from Reinold's mother home along with a friend by a fifteen-strong naval intelligence team and taken to the ESMA naval detention camp. After a brutal torture session in front of his wife, Marcelo was supposedly "transferred" to another camp but nothing was heard of him since. In February 1978, Susana was disappeared by the military authorities soon after giving birth to a blonde girl.

Adriana and Gaspar Tasca, both identified as Montoneros, were taken into custody between 7 and 10 December 1977 and remain unaccounted for. On 6 October 1978, José Pérez Rojo and Patricia Roisinblit, both Montoneros members, were made to disappear. According to different sources, 8,000 to 30,000 people, are estimated to have disappeared and died during the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. Some 11,000 Argentines have applied for and received up to US $200,000 as monetary compensation from the state for the loss of loved ones during the military dictatorship.

The commander of the Montoneros, Mario Firmenich, in a radio interview in late 2000 from Spain later stated that "In a country that experienced a civil war, everybody has blood in their hands." The Junta relied on mass illegal arrests, torture, and executions without trial to stifle any political opposition. Some victims were thrown from transport planes into the Atlantic Ocean on what have become famously known as death flights. Others had their corpses left on streets as intimidation of others. The Montoneros admit 5,000 of their guerrillas were killed.

The Montoneros were effectively finished off by 1977, although their "Special Forces" did fight on until 1981. The Montoneros tried to disrupt the World Cup Soccer Tournament being hosted in Argentina in 1978 by launching a number of bomb attacks. In late 1979, the Montoneros launched a "strategic counteroffensive" in Argentina, and the security forces killed more than one hundred of the exiled Montoneros, who had been sent back to Argentina after receiving special forces training in camps in the Middle East.

Among the Montoneros killed in this operation were Luis Francisco Goya and María Lourdes Martínez Aranda who after crossing the Chilean border into Argentina were abducted in the city of Mendoza in 1980 and never seen again, with their son Jorge Guillermo being adopted and raised by an army NCO, Luis Alberto Tejada and his wife Raquel Quinteros. During the 1980s a captured Sandinista commando revealed that Montoneros "Special Forces" were training Sandinista frogmen and conducting gun runs across the Gulf of Fonseca to the Sandinista allies in El Salvador, FMLN guerrillas.

During the Falklands War against Great Britain, the Argentine military conceived the aborted Operation Algeciras, a covert plan to support and convince some Montoneros, by appealing to their patriotism, to sabotage British military facilities in Gibraltar. Argentina's defeat led to the fall of the Junta, and Raúl Alfonsín became president in December 1983, thus initiating the democratic transition.

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