We reported earlier the breakthrough in the case of the disappearance of Edgar Fernando Garcia, a student and trades union activist who “disappeared” in 1984. A senior and an ex-police officer have been arrested, and warrants issued for the arrest of two former officers of the Special Operations Brigade. This case is a direct result of the discovery in 2005 of an archive of National Police records going back to the late nineteenth century. The records are slowly and carefully being preserved and analysed and it was always hoped that somewhere in the huge piles of fusty paper might be some clues as to what happened to those who “disappeared”.
The analysis of the documents has been assisted by the US National Security Archive, which has this week published some declassified US Embassy documents showing that they knew a great deal about the kidnappings occuring at the time, who was carrying them out and the fact that those picked up were tortured at best, murdered at worst. Edgar Fernando Garcia’s name appears in several of these documents. A background article and the documents can be read here.
As is usual in the rare cases where the perpetrators of human rights violations during the civil war it is the foot soldiers who are arrested and tried: think also of the Rio Negro cases, in 2008 and also in 1999 when civil patrollers were convicted. However, it is obvious that such large scale violations did not occur in a vacuum, someone had to sit down and plan how massacres were to be carried out, and decide who the targets were to be picked up on the streets. This is why the genocide case being brought by the AJR is so vitally important – going after the top brass, the intellectual authors – those who drew up the plans and sent out the foot soldiers to actually carry out the plan.