- NAME: Jorge Rafaél Videla
- OCCUPATION: Murderer, General, Dictator
- BIRTH DATE: August 02, 1925
- DEATH DATE: May 17, 2013
- Did You Know?: Of the approximately 400 babies who were kidnapped after being born in detention while Videla was in power, more than 100 have been located and reunited with their biological families.
- EDUCATION: National Military College
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Mercedes, Argentina
- PLACE OF DEATH: Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Full Name: Jorge Rafaél Videla
- AKA: Jorge Videla
Best Known For
General Jorge Rafaél Videla's government was responsible for a campaign of suppression and human rights abuses that became known as Argentina's "dirty war."
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Jorge Rafaél Videla was born on August 2, 1925, in Mercedes, Argentina. In 1976, he led a military junta that took control of the country. While Videla was president, from 1976 to 1981, his government conducted a "dirty war," during which thousands of people considered to be subversive threats were abducted, detained and murdered. He was 87 when he died in prison in Buenos Aires on May 17, 2013.
"One becomes a terrorist not only by killing with a weapon or setting a bomb, but also by encouraging others through ideas that go against our Western and Christian civilization."
"War, by nature, is cruel. An internal war, between brothers, is especially cruel."
"I don't talk about a dirty war. I prefer to talk about a fair war."
"The disappeared are just that: disappeared. They are neither alive nor dead. They are disappeared."
"Death has brought an end to his physical existence but not what he did against the people."
"Videla belongs to that class of people who reveal the mediocrity of evil and who prove that the devil can incarnate in just anyone."
Jorge Rafaél Videla Redondo was born on August 2, 1925, in Mercedes, Argentina. His father was an army colonel; Videla would also go on to join the army. At age 16, he entered the National Military College. He became a commissioned officer in 1944 and began a steadily progressing military career.
In 1975, Argentina's leader, Isabel Perón, named Videla as the army's general commander. On March 24, 1976, Videla—assisted by General Orlando Ramón Agosti of the air force and Admiral Emilio Massera of the navy—ousted Perón. At the time, Argentina was besieged by attacks from guerrillas and death squads, so many welcomed Videla's move, hoping the three-man military junta would put an end to the violence. Business interests also felt that the economy, beset by inflation, might improve under Videla's rule.
After the coup, Videla—now president—began a "Process of National Reorganization" to remake the country. Courts were closed, political parties outlawed and labor unions banned. Instead of a legislature, a commission of nine military officers—answering to Videla—was set up. Military officials soon filled all important government positions.
For Videla, another part of the reorganization process was defending the country against leftist groups. In addition to guerrilla fighters, he considered anyone whose thoughts or ideas could undermine the government to be a threat. This meant that union leaders, journalists, left-leaning politicians and intellectuals were among those targeted.
During Argentina's "dirty war," government opponents were brought to secret detention centers, sometimes after being kidnapped in the middle of the night. Once in custody, the prisoners' punishments included beatings, torture, rape and death. Pregnant women were often held until they gave birth, and then killed afterward. Instead of being passed to relatives, the babies were usually handed over to military couples, or couples with military connections, so that they could be raised in non-subversive households.
Videla deliberately chose to cloak these arrests and deaths in secrecy; those the government wanted to be rid of permanently were "disappeared." Some victims were buried in mass graves. Bodies were dropped from planes into the Atlantic Ocean or the River Plate. Although the official toll is lower, human rights organizations estimate that as many as 30,000 people were tortured and killed during the military dictatorship.
Videla left the army in 1978 but remained president until 1981. After his departure, a struggling economy, combined with Argentina's defeat in the Falklands War, weakened the dictatorship.
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