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24/01/2011 | The "Letter to the Editor" the Wall Street Journal would not publish

Martin Edwin Andersen

On January 3, the Wall Street Journal published Mary Anastasia O’Grady’s “Argentina’s Forgotten Terror Victims,” in which distorted historical analysis supported otherwise unsustainable arguments on the nature of the so-called “dirty war” there during the 1970s.

 

To the Editor,

On January 3, the Wall Street Journal published Mary Anastasia O’Grady’s “Argentina’s Forgotten Terror Victims,” in which distorted historical analysis supported otherwise unsustainable arguments on the nature of the so-called “dirty war” there during the 1970s.

In what the military claimed was the opening battle of the Third World War, 20,000-25,000 leftist guerrillas, their sympathizers, and many others—including hundreds of senior citizens, pregnant women and children under the age of 16—were tortured and killed in secret concentration camps.

Ms. O’Grady portrays as authoritative the work of an Argentine researcher who claims that 13,074 people were “victims” of leftist terrorists. However she ignores the fact that during the same period (1969-1979), there were less than 600 murders committed by those on the Left—approximately 60 people per year.

Only if by “victims” Ms. O’Grady’s source meant people injured, extorted, threatened, etc., in non-fatal ways is the number she cites possibly correct. However, if similarly non-fatal “victims” of right-wing death squads and the military dictatorship are tallied, their number would include tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, more.

Accurate portrayal of the lopsided number of deaths—less than 600 rightists versus at least 20,000 leftists—is important, as gross exaggeration of the threat posed by the latter continues to sustain “dirty war” apologists.

Robert W. Scherrer, the FBI legal attaché stationed in Buenos Aires during those years, monitored the violence for the U.S. embassy.

He wrote: “A considerable portion of the murders, kidnappings and extortions attributed to the guerrillas were caused by other elements. … Terrorism in Argentina was serious and deadly but its scope was exaggerated. … [it was] a convenient vehicle for irresponsible elements of the military and their civilian counterparts to seek retaliation against real or imagined wrongs.”

Sincerely,

Martin Edwin Andersen

Andersen is the author of two books on recent Argentine history: Dossier Secreto: Argentina’s Desaparecidos and the Myth of the “Dirty War” (1993) and La Policia; Pasado, Presente y Propuestas para el Futuro (2002), a 455-page account of that country’s police written in Spanish.


[Note to the Editor: I am the sole author of this letter, which is exclusive to the Journal and has not been disseminated to other media.]


Offnews.info (Argentina)

 



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