The remains of a Cuban diplomat killed in Argentina’s Dirty War have been identified. The announcement in Telam news agency comes eight months after they were found stuffed into a metal drum behind a garage on a farm in Virreves, Buenos Aires Province.
The remains were identified as Cuban diplomat Jesus Cejas, who, along with his friend, Crescentius Galanena, had been kidnapped in August, 1976 in the Buenos Aires barrio of Belgrano. Galanena’s body had been previously found and identified in 2012.
Kidnapping and American Involvement
According to witnesses, the two men were at the intersection of Pine Street and Arribenos when 40 armed men blocked their Ford Falcon. The young men were then taken to EMSA, where they were then tortured by Argentine and Chilean officials and officers.
The US embassy in Buenos Aires was informed of the kidnapping and interrogation. According to documents that have been declassified and released for the ongoing trial, the American CIA had an agent named Michael Townley present in EMSA and Townley is said to have participated in the torture and subsequent murder.
Townley, months later, would also be implicated in the assassination of Chilean Diplomat Orlando Letelier, who was gunned down by Townley on Massachusetts Avenue, “Embassy Row,” in Washington D.C.
The remains found recently weren’t the only victims during the period called The Dirty War.
The Dirty War
When Argentine President Juan Peron died on July 1, 1974, his widow, Isabel, was sworn in as President. A former stripper in her native Spain, Isabel Peron was totally unequipped to handle the duties and pressure of the Presidential Palace.
On March 24, 1976, Isabel was overthrown by a military dictatorship. To suppress the opposition, priests, journalists, students and activists were kidnapped from their homes and off the streets in Buenos Aires. Taken to EMSA, the former Navy Mechanic Training Center, the victims were tortured before being flown in a helicopter and thrown into Rio de Plata.
The military dictatorship, which ended in 1983 with the end of the Falkland’s War fiasco, was responsible for 30,000 citizens vanishing. “The disappeared,” as they are called in Buenos Aires, are remembered each Thursday in Plaza de Mayo by “the Grandmothers” who march weekly, demanding a full accounting of the whereabouts of their sons, daughters and grandchildren who disappeared during The Dirty War.
Argentina wasn’t alone in it’s brutality. Chile, Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay and other Latin American countries joined forces in what they called Operation Condor.
With the aid, support and training of the American military, the countries’ governments set out on a plan to silence all opposition and take complete control of Latin America.
Other Remains Found
The EAAF (Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team) said that the body of Cejas had been hidden in a 200 liter metal drum and then filled with concrete. The finding, on a farm in Buenos Aires Province, was also the site where other excavations have taken place over the years.
Argentine Maria Rosa Clementi, an employee of the Cuban Embassy in Buenos Aires, also was abducted in August 1976 and her remains were found as well.
Machinery and technical staff belonging to the EAAF can still be seen on the farm, which has become a central arena for the “Condor Trial” going on now in Buenos Aires’ Tribunales. The trial, which got underway in 2013, is expected to last until next year. Maybe more remains from Argentina’s Dirty War will be found and identified before the trial is over.
By Jerry Nelson