Thursday, 4 April 2013
WERE ARGENTINE CONSCRIPTS TORTURED IN THE FALKLANDS WAR?
Under the presidency of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the allegation that Argentine army officers and NCOs abused and killed their own troops in the Falklands War has repeatedly made the headlines of several newspapers. "Our own officers were our greatest enemies" , says Ernesto Alonso, the president of CECIM, a left-wing veterans group founded by Rodolfo Carrizo and other conscripts of the 7th Regiment. "They supplied themselves with whiskey from the pubs, but they weren't prepared for war. "They disappeared when things got serious." (Argentina's Falklands War Veterans. 'Cannon Fodder in a War We Couldn't Win'. By Jens Glüsing, Spiegel.de, 4 March 2007)
But the former officers, including British historian Jon Cooksey, maintain that the conscripts were helped to make themselves as comfortable as possible under the circumstances and that their officers and NCOs fought well and tried hard to bolster morale. Major Carlos Eduardo Carrizo-Salvadores, second-in-command of the 7th Infantry Regiment, would later explain that he did his best to arrange some measure of comfort for his men on Mount Longdon: "We took good care of the personnel. We did what we could do to set an example. Captain Eduardo Lopez [the company commander] was there with the platoons, with news-updates and nougat bars. The soldiers had everything you can imagine in their kitbags, including thermos flasks and transistor radios. Some of the soldiers heard that the British had disembarked at San Carlos and captured Goose Green by tuning radios on to the BBC. In the mornings the soldiers had a mug of the green Guarani herb 'mate' which contains around the same amount of caffein as a cup of coffee; it is stimulating and helps register a feeling of fullness. Meals were served in the open and consumed in mugs. I remember that mutton and pasta figured largely on the menu. There was a strict ration of one ratpack per man per week, eaten slowly to make it last." (Mount Longdon: The Argentinian Story, By David Aldea for britains-smallwars.com) Major Oscar Ramón Jaimet, the Operations Officer of the 6th Infantry Regiment would later say that the platoon commanders in his company shared the same wartime privations of the ordinary conscripts:
"Over there, everyone took the same risks, shared the same privations and tasks, suffered from the cold and shared the same foxholes that would fill with water. There has been a tendency to create differences - or make us believe - in the experiences of the officers, NCOs and privates. My platoon commanders (second lieutenants Aldo Franco, Augusto La Madrid, Guillermo Robredo and Guillermo Corbella) would sleep alongside the privates. I slept among the privates in our position." (Malvinas: Contrahistoria, Héctor Rubén Simeoni, p. 84, Editorial Inédita, 1984) Under the orders of Brigadier-General Mario Benjamin Menéndez, the Argentine military governor at the time, the army engineers (under Colonel Manuel Dorrego) in Port Stanley constructed field showers for the troops that allowed the frontline units before the British landings to send companies into town on a rotating basis to get a hot shower and mend their clothes. (See Malvinas: A Sangre y Fuego, By Nicolás Kasanzew, page 35, Editorial Abril, 1982) Marcelo Alberto Llambías Pravaz, a former platoon commander in the 4th Infantry Regiment in a television interview with Argentina's Channel 23 in December 2011, recalled taking his platoon of conscripts in mid-April 1982 to Port Stanley to allow his men to have a hot shower and shave. On 19 May 1982 a conscript serving with the 12th Infantry Regiment at Goose Green, Secundino Riquelme, reportedly died of starvation. The commanding officer of the 12th Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Italo Angel Piaggi however, maintains in his book about the war that private Riquelme died of a pre-existing heart condition. (Ganso Verde, Italo Angel Piaggi, p. 82, Editorial Sudamericana, 1986)
Second Lieutenant Gustavo Malacalza of the 12th Regiment is accused of having staked three conscripts at Goose Green, for having abandoned their positions to go looking for food and revealing their positions with gunfire. "We said it was going to be us next", said Private Mario Oscar Nuñez recalling the death of conscript Riquelme. Soon after the British landings, he and two other conscripts took the decision to kill a sheep. The three men were skinning the sheep when they were discovered by Second Lieutenant Malacalza, who was accompanied by fellow conscripts of A Company, 12th Regiment and given a beating. "They started kicking and stamping on us. Finally came the staking." (Falklands conscripts recall torture and death at hands of officers." The Times. 18 June 2009) Not all the conscripts of the 12th Regiment experienced field punishments and some even came forward to praise Second Lieutenant Ernesto Orlando Peluffo of the 12th Regiment, who would break and share his loaf of bread with the conscripts. (Diario Momarandu, 25 ANIVERSARIO DE MALVINAS, By Armando Godoy, 02/04/2007) Read More HERE
It sadly wouldn't surprise me if they were tortured, from what I saw of the Argentine conscripts they did not want to be there, some were even told they were just going on an exercise. If these allegations are true then it's not to late to bring these Argentine officers to trial.