40 years after the Dirty War, Argentina still struggles

On the night of 24th March 1976, a coup led by the Chiefs of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, and Aviation) deposed Isabel Perón’s Government and started the self-proclaimed “Process of National Reorganization” (PRN), with the official aim of pacifying the country and revitalizing the drained economy.

7 years later, pressed by the demands of the civil society for free and democratic elections, and weakened by the defeat in the Falklands war, the army returned to the barracks; the economy they left behind was still in a dire situation, and the state, far from being pacified, had to deal with the aftermath of the widespread and systemic human rights violation perpetrated by the regime. The PRN became quickly and sadly known as the “Dirty War”.

The country was socially devastated: almost one generation had gone missing.

Between 9,000 (according to the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons (CONADEP) report) and 30,000 (based on the estimations by other human rights organizations) people were killed or forcibly disappeared, and the fate of many of them still remains undisclosed. More than 300 illegal detention centres were instituted, and many mass burials dug under the regime.

As Ernesto Sabato, writer and President of CONADEP, described it: “The Dirty War — the most savage tragedy in the history of Argentina”.

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