Five Top Fives

Top 5 of…

…worst buses!

…Mehs (overrated Argentine foods)

…Argentine children’s tunes

…expressions for “Crazy”

…annoying remarks by 1st World citizens regarding Argentina

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Porteño Language Tips

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Here are some installments of our Spanglish Playground section:

  • How to call your waiter.
  • How to use the word “Boludo”.
  • Expressions with “Joder”
  • Misuse of English words in Porteño Spanish.

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Proceso-”Dirty War” 35th Anniversary Special Cheat Sheet Part4

Proceso-”Dirty War” 35th Anniversary Special Cheat Sheet Part4

(In order of appearance)

Proceso de Reorganización Nacional. March 24, 1976. Unlike previous Coups, they didn’t call themselves a “Revolution”, because their government was going to be as much counter-revolutionary as it could be, on all levels, so the very word “Revolution” was rejected.

A Military Junta ruled the country, headed by the commanders of the three Armed Forces:

  1. General Jorge Rafael Videla (Army)
  2. Admiral Eduardo Massera (Navy)
  3. Brigadier Antonio Agosti (Air Force)

Of the three of them, Videla played the institutional role of President, but actual power lied on the the Junta, that had divided power in three equal parts, to avoid the infighting of past Military regimes, in which one faction resented the other. Practically all state agencies were put under the trusteeship of military officers who reported their superiors, and them to the Junta. The Proceso was a bureaucratric mess, even for Argentine standards.

    Part 4

    • Lucas’s Spanish piece: economic crisis is structural in Argentina. That plus Human Rights groups activism and the Malvinas War defeat are they most relevant factors in the Dictatorship’s demise… The defeat also prevents any kind of  support for the Junta to grow.
    • Dan in a moment refers to a treaty that establishes immediate line-up for countries in the Americas faced with an agression from off the continent. He’s referring to the TIAR, Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance. The US considered Argentina was the agressing country, not the agressed, so the treaty didn’t apply.
    • 1984. Dan mentions this classic book by George Orwell, where the expression “Big Brother” comes from.
    • During the War, the media in Argentina wasn’t authorized to spread messages that would convey the idea that the war was being lost. In fact, quite the contrary.
    • Raúl Alfonsín’s presidency: 1983-1986. He ran on a campaign under a motto that encapsulated the sentiment of most Argentines after the bloodbath of the dictatorship: “With Democracy we live, we educate, we feed, we cure”.
    • Military Uprisings. There were several, through the second half of the 1980s, to put pressure on the Government and stop prosecution for Human Rights abuses. The military considered they had nothing to apologyze for, because “they had fought an enemy and they did what they had to do”. There are many who agree with this idea, to the date. There are others who think “well, it’s terrible what happened, but let’s forget about it and look ahead”. Many who endorse that idea refer to a concept called “Two Demons”, that claimed the Guerrilla (first demon) brought upon them a second and meaner demon (the Military) leaving society as an innocent by-stander and victim. This theory is rejected by Human Rights groups, because it ignores the fact that the Junta exercised total power, and in spite of being the State the guarantor of Human Rights and the Rule of Law, they systematically violated them, making their massacre a Crime against Humanity.

    Thanks to:

    1. Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo for putting us in contact with Ramiro Menna, whom we also thank for his contribution.
    1. Lucas Rentero and Eternautas, Kristie Robinson and the Argentina Independent, Mara Burkart (and Historian Cecilia Belej for putting us in contact).
    2. Candela Farías and Jon Brandt , for dubbing Spanish language speech..

    Related Posts:

    Proceso-”Dirty War” 35th Anniversary Special Cheat Sheet Part3

    Proceso-”Dirty War” 35th Anniversary Special Cheat Sheet

    (In order of appearance)

    Proceso de Reorganización Nacional. March 24, 1976. Unlike previous Coups, they didn’t call themselves a “Revolution”, because their government was going to be as much counter-revolutionary as it could be, on all levels, so the very word “Revolution” was rejected.

    A Military Junta ruled the country, headed by the commanders of the three Armed Forces:

    1. General Jorge Rafael Videla (Army)
    2. Admiral Eduardo Massera (Navy)
    3. Brigadier Antonio Agosti (Air Force)

    Of the three of them, Videla played the institutional role of President, but actual power lied on the the Junta, that had divided power in three equal parts, to avoid the infighting of past Military regimes, in which one faction resented the other. Practically all state agencies were put under the trusteeship of military officers who reported their superiors, and them to the Junta. The Proceso was a bureaucratric mess, even for Argentine standards.

    Part 3

    • Juan Carlos Onganía’s speech.This is from before he became a dictator, when he was head of the Army.
    • Doctrine of National/Domestic Security.: It comes in the context of the Cold War. It meant that Armed Forces had to left behind the concept of external enemies and start thinking of internal enemies, who attack from within the country. Geographic Borders didn’t matter anymore, but Ideological Borders were the ones the Military should defend now.
    • Algerian War of Independence. French military used methods in this conflict that were later applied on a massive scale by Latin American Armed Forces in their Counter-Insurgency campaigns. A great film on the subject is Gillo Pontecorvo’s “The Battle of Algiers”

      • Cold War Film: Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. We used audio from it to illustrate the Anti-Communist paranoia.

        • Independence Operation. In 1975, President Isabel Perón signed a decree authorizing the Army to intervene in Tucumán province, where the ERP guerrilla was operating, and was attempting to establish a stronghold (similar to what the Cubans had done with Sierra Maestra). This is the first time the Abduction-Torture-Disappearance- Murder scheme was used in Argentina as part of a systematic plan, that the following year was simply expanded nationwide.
        • Anti-Semitism. We quote Novaro and Palermo’s book when we explore the definition of subversion of the Junta. People were not targeted just for being Jewish, but once they were captured by the Military, they received anti-semitic treatment. Robert Cox was arrested and before he was released saw a huge swastika painted on the walls of a police facility.
        • Military officers quotes on subversions: First two are by de facto President Jorge Rafael Videla. The third is by General Guillermo Suarez Mason, fourth by Lt Col Juan Carlos Moreno, then General Galtieri and finally, Videla again.
        • In the intercutting with Dr. Strangelove’s General Ripper, is General Díaz Bessone (audio from Robin’s documentary) he says: “Están en todos los lugares…atendiendo un comercio…clases en la Universidad, Colegios…enseñando como profesores…médico, abogado, ingeniero, trabajador, obrero”. “They are everywhere , working at a shop, teaching at a University, it can be a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer, engineer, worker”.
        • The Junta’s economic plan was anti-union, anti-protectionism, anti-State, pro-Financial markets, pro-Farming sector. Subsidized industries were seen as an evil that had to be eliminated, as well as State-ran companies. The plan wasn’t applied in full, because of infighting between the military, who unlike Videla, were not die-hard fans of market-friendly policies. The combination free prices-frozen salaries was applied. repeteadly.There were obviously no Unions protests, out of fear (most  disappeared were grass-and-roots shop stewards)

        Thanks to:

        1. Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo for putting us in contact with Ramiro Menna, whom we also thank for his contribution.
        1. Lucas Rentero and Eternautas, Kristie Robinson and the Argentina Independent, Mara Burkart (and Historian Cecilia Belej for putting us in contact).
        2. Candela Farías and Jon Brandt , for dubbing Spanish language speech..

        Related Posts:

    Proceso-”Dirty War” 35th Anniversary Special Cheat Sheet Part2

    Proceso-”Dirty War” 35th Anniversary Special Cheat Sheet

    (In order of appearance)

    Proceso de Reorganización Nacional. March 24, 1976. Unlike previous Coups, they didn’t call themselves a “Revolution”, because their government was going to be as much counter-revolutionary as it could be, on all levels, so the very word “Revolution” was rejected.

    A Military Junta ruled the country, headed by the commanders of the three Armed Forces:

    1. General Jorge Rafael Videla (Army)
    2. Admiral Eduardo Massera (Navy)
    3. Brigadier Antonio Agosti (Air Force)

    Of the three of them, Videla played the institutional role of President, but actual power lied on the the Junta, that had divided power in three equal parts, to avoid the infighting of past Military regimes, in which one faction resented the other. Practically all state agencies were put under the trusteeship of military officers who reported their superiors, and them to the Junta. The Proceso was a bureaucratric mess, even for Argentine standards.

    Part 2

    • 1955 Revolución Libertadora: The Liberating Revolution is the name adopted by a military and civilian coalition that toppled President Juan Perón.
    • 1956 Pro-peronist uprising: Some generals attempted to overthrow the Libertadora, but the rebellion was easily crushed, and its leaders executed. Civilians who were unrelated to the uprising were also summarily executed in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. One of the classic books of Argentine investigative journalism is about this episode: “Operación Masacre”, by Rodolfo Walsh.
    • Arturo Frondizi: President from 1958 till 1962. On that year, there were elections in Buenos Aires province in 1962, in which a Peronist candidate won. The military annulled the elections and removed Frondizi.
    • José María Guido’s government: Guido was the provisional Head of the Upper Chamber (not the Lower as stated in the documentary). The Armed Forces wanted to preserve a mask of legality, by keeping a civilian as the formal Head of State, even though power really lied on the Military Barracks. Daniel very accurately calls this government a “semi-dictatorship”.
    • “Similar to what happened in 2001”, Lucas says, making a comparison to the 2001 meltdown, when the succession line was respected: President resigns and without a Vice-President (he had resigned a year before), the Deputy Head of the Senate takes over. When the latter resigned, the Head of the Lower chamber took over, until the Parliament appointed a caretaker president (Eduardo Duhalde).
    • Arturo Illia’s presidency: 1963-1966: A man who is widely acknowledged to be a convinced democrat, though his rise to power wasn’t entirely democratic (the biggest political force of the country was banned when he was elected).
    • General Juan Carlos Onganía: A conservative, deeply religious General who headed a Military Dictatorship called “Argentine Revolution”.
    • Noche de los Bastones Largos July 29, 1966. Under Onganía, the Police raided the School of Exact Sciences of the UBA, beating up students and teachers. The reason? Universities were a hotbed for communism, according to the Government. Witnesses recall the Security Forces breaking into the University shouting stuff like “Fucking Communists, Jews Sons of Bitches”.
    • 1973: a key and messy year. Extremely messy and occurrences-filled. A quick chronology:
      • March:First free elections in more than 20 years, Peronist candidate wins
      • May: Inauguration of the latter (Héctor Cámpora), and massive release of political prisoners who had been imprisoned by the outgoing dictatorship.
      • June: Perón returns to the country, and hundreds of thousands of people go to the Airport to wait for him. A battle broke out between the Right and the Left wings of Peronism, leaving scores of dead people.
      • July: Campora resigns, 49 days after taking office.
      • September: Peron is elected president, with 62% of the vote (less than year later he’s dead and the Vice-President -who’s also the First Lady- thakes over) The Montoneros guerrilla killed the head of the CGT union, José Rucci, one of Perón’s protegés. If there was any warm feelings for the left-wing of his movement, they are gone after this.

    • IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION ABOUT THE INTEGRATION OF THE GUERRILLAS. David Rock’s book doesn’t state that many of them were workers.
    • Number of victims of guerrillas: Vicente Palermo and Marcos Palermo wrote a very well documented volume on this period, and they quote tons of sources. The figure stated on the documentary comes from it. The book is part of the prestigious Paidós Argentine History Collection, directed by the renown Historian Tulio Halperín Donghi.
    • Peronism and UCR. The largest political forces in Argentina. UCR stands for Unión Cívica Radical.
    • The Years of Isabel. In addition to the violence, there was a rampant inflation amid an economy in tatters. The Armed Forces let her fall by herself, so they would grab power totally unquestioned by the citizenry (it is to be taken into account that NOBODY expected the kind of massacre they were going to unleash, and also it’s important to remember that Argentines were used to Coups, being this one the sixth in 50 years, and the fourth in 20).


    Thanks to:

    1. Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo for putting us in contact with Ramiro Menna, whom we also thank for his contribution.
    1. Lucas Rentero and Eternautas, Kristie Robinson and the Argentina Independent, Mara Burkart (and Historian Cecilia Belej for putting us in contact).
    2. Candela Farías and Jon Brandt , for dubbing Spanish language speech..

    Related Posts:

    Proceso-”Dirty War” 35th Anniversary Special Cheat Sheet Part1

    Proceso-”Dirty War” 35th Anniversary Special Cheat Sheet

    (In order of appearance)

    Proceso de Reorganización Nacional. March 24, 1976. Unlike previous Coups, they didn’t call themselves a “Revolution”, because their government was going to be as much counter-revolutionary as it could be, on all levels, so the very word “Revolution” was rejected.

    A Military Junta ruled the country, headed by the commanders of the three Armed Forces:

    1. General Jorge Rafael Videla (Army)
    2. Admiral Eduardo Massera (Navy)
    3. Brigadier Antonio Agosti (Air Force)

    Of the three of them, Videla played the institutional role of President, but actual power lied on the Junta, that divided power in three equal parts, to avoid the infighting of past Military regimes, in which one faction resented the other. Practically all state agencies were put under the trusteeship of military officers who reported to their superiors, and them to the Junta. The Proceso was a bureaucratric mess, even for Argentine standards.

    Part 1

    • Leftwing guerrillas: There were several but the two main ones: ERP (Revolutionary Army of the People), marxist, and the Montoneros, left-wing Peronists.
    • Far-rigth death squads: the deadliest was the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance, or the “triple A”
    • ESMA: It stands for Escuela Superior de Mecánica de la Armada (Navy Superior School of Engineering). The largest underground concentration camp of the 370 the Armed Forces set up across the country.
    • Death Flights: this method for getting rid of prisoners’ bodies was first admitted by Navy officer Adolfo Scilingo in the 1990s.
    • “No tiene entidad”: “There’s no status for him/her, we can’t say he is dead nor alive”.
    • Buenos Aires Herald. English-language newspaper founded in the 19th century. Practically the only exception in Argentine media when it came to reporting disappearances and abductions. The other media outlets would simply not talk about it, there was like a tacit pact not to do so. In any case, the military would check everything, and make phone calls to warn about articles they didn’t like (the excuse was that freedom of the press was tantamount to being functional to the enemy)
    • Robert Cox. Condecorated British journalist, who headed the BA Herald during the Junta years. His voice comes from an interview he gave to RAE, the English-language service of Radiodifusión Argentina al Exterior, Argentina’s Public Radio Foreign Service, back in November 2009. We thank RAE’s director Luis María Barassi for allowing BA Cast to use this material. And obviously Cox again, for granting RAE that interview, which I (Fer) considered an honor.
    • “Velvet Revolution”: An expression for a non-violent revolution. Cox is right on the spot when he describes the domestic and foreign perception of the Junta, during their first months in power. Since they weren’t acknowledging what they would doing, they made people believe the violence, the bodies that would be found anywhere on a daily basis, were the result of the fights between far-right and left-wing Armed Groups, and not part of the Junta’s repression plan.
    • “Por algo será/Algo habrán hecho”: the justification many Argentines gave to others and themselves, when they would learn about an abduction and disappearance. The Junta’s message was that good behaving  citizens had nothing to fear, and many people bought that. Iit was up to the Armed Forces’ discretion to determine who were “good behaving citizens”.
    • Facultad de Derecho: UBA’s School of Law. The space behind it was dark and empty, and Military gangs would use it, if they wanted to have privacy.
    • Facultad de Derecho

      Facultad de Derecho

    • Mara Burkart: UBA Sociologist. Her doctorate research is on the disguised, subtle critique of the Junta the Humor Magazine did.
    • James Neilson: BA Herald journalist, apart from writing for other publications. He is still in charge of the paper’s Thursday opinion column.
    • General Genaro Díaz Bessone: Planning Minister under the Junta. His voice comes from a documentary called “Death Squads: the French School” by French journalist Marie Monique Robin.The entire film is available on Youtube:
      • Franco and 1975 executions: Díaz Bessone recalls the decission of the Spanish dictator to have members of the ETA basque separatist group executed by firing squad, something that sparked great condemnation  all over the world.
      • 1973 Amnesty: When peronist president Héctor Cámpora takes power on May 25, that year, there’s a massive amnesty of political prisoners. The Military were outraged by this, and this is one of the reasons they decided to operate outside any legal framework when they returned to power 3 years later.
      • Madres de Plaza de Mayo: main Human Rights Organization in the country. They were founded in 1977, trying to gather information about their abducted children. The group was immediately seen as subversive by the Junta and they infiltrated them, resulting in the abduction of the group’s founder: Azucena Villaflor, who was later dropped from a plane into the Rio de la Plata. Her remains were found and positively IDed not long ago, and buried in Plaza de Mayo. The name of the group comes from the habit of meeting up once a week in the square, to claim for information about the abducted people. Since there was a curfew, outlawing any kind of public demonstration, the Police would ask them to leave, but the Mothers, instead of doing so, would start walking around the square, circumventing the restriction.
      • Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo: An organization engaged with tracking babies appropriated by the Military upon birth, from abducted mothers. The estimate of stolen infants between 1976 and 1983 is 500. So far, the Abuelas have recovered 100 plus.
      • SERPAJ: Servicio de Paz y Justicia. Human Rights group headed by Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, who was granted the Peace Nobel Prize in 1980 for his activism in favor of Human Rights (the reaction of the Junta was similar to that of the Chinese in 2010, when Liu Xiaobo was granted the same prize).
      • John Dinges . He wrote a book called “The Condor Years” in which a Chilean intelligence document is published, quoting an Argentine military source of the time.
      • CONADEP report: Stands for Comisión Nacional sobre la Desaparición de Personas National Commission on the Disappeareance of Persons. It was put together by President Alfonsín in 1984, and its findings were published in a book that became a classic on the subject: “Nunca Más” (“Never Again”).
      • Isabel Perón’s decrees: in 1975, the Constitutional government of Perón’s widow signed decrees authorizing the Army to “Anihilate the acts of the subversive guerrillas”. The military said later they based their repression plan on these decrees, whereas Peronist officials say they meant the annihilation of the power of the guerrillas, not the people who integrate them.
      • Dirty War – A term coined by the Junta, to convey the idea they were fighting a new type of war that required new, “dirty” methods.
      • Estadounidense: Citizen of the United States, in Spanish.
      • PInochet and his repression plan. Augusto Pinochet took power from elected Socialist president Salvador Allende in 1973. He set up a torture center in a soccer stadium, that received a lot of attention from all over the world: another reason for his Argentine counterparts to adopt an underground approach to repression, in which they would deny responsibility constantly.
      • 1985 Trial on the Juntas: After Military Courts acquitted all of the officers involved in repression, President Alfonsín decided they be tried by a civilian tribunal. The trial is known as “The Argentine Nuremberg”.Here’s the prosecution presentation, in Spanish .
      • Ramiro Menna: His parents are both disappeared and he’s looking for a brother or a sister who very was appropriated by military personnel, and raised under a different identity, keeping the truth from him (there are hundreds of 30 somethings in Argentina in this situation).
      • Nacht un Niebel: a repression method used by Nazis in occupied territories during World War II that resembles the Junta’s plan.

      Thanks to:

      • Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo for putting us in contact with Ramiro Menna, whom we also thank for his contribution.
      • Lucas Rentero and Eternautas, Kristie Robinson and the Argentina Independent, Mara Burkart (and Historian Cecilia Belej for putting us in contact).
      • Candela Farías and Jon Brandt , for dubbing Spanish language speech..

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    Proceso-“Dirty War” 35th Anniversary Special, part 4 (final)

    In a fully bilingual piece, we quickly review the fall of the Junta and the aftermath, with guests Kristie Robinson (journalist) and Lucas Rentero (historian).

    The cheat sheet is available

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