Ernesto Avelino Ramas Pereira

12.06.2012 ( Last modified: 07.06.2016 )
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facts

Ernesto Avelino Ramas Pereira was born in 1936. He joined the Army on 1 March 1955 and began to serve in the Infantry. In 1962 he enrolled at the School of the Americas. Then he served in the Infantry Battalion 11 (Mines) until 1963. He was promoted to captain in 1964 and subsequently served in the Materiel and Weapons Service until 1972 when he was moved to Infantry Battalion No. 1. Since 1975 he acted as commander in the Coordinating Agency of Counterinsurgency Operations (OCOA) in the “300 Carlos” and then in “La Tablada” operations. Afterwards he served in the General Command of the Army.

The Guerra Sucia (“Dirty War”) is a term used to describe a period of state-sponsored violence in Argentina between 1976 and 1983. The Argentinean military regime under Jorge Rafael Videla’s dictatorship resolved to eradicate what the junta called “subversive thoughts”, as well as “terrorists”, namely “anyone who disseminated ideas contrary to Western Christian civilization”. Victims of the violence included several thousand left-wing activists, students, journalists, Marxist and Peronist guerrillas and sympathizers. During the years that followed, the military murdered or forcibly “disappeared” from 10’000 to 30’000 people. In addition, some 500’000 opponents of the regime found themselves forced into exile to escape from its repression. State terrorism was carried out primarily as a part of Operation Condor, a network of secret services of the military dictatorships of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil with the purpose of eliminating the political opponents of the different regimes, exiled in their territories.

Ramas Pereira admitted his involvement in the Coordinating Agency of Counterinsurgency Operations (OCOA), but stated that it didn’t operate in Argentina, thus denying his involvement in the clandestine detention center “Orletti Automotive”. Ramas Pereira is linked mainly to the Base Valparaiso, where insurgents were interrogated during the dictatorship.

By his own admission Ramas Pereira traveled to Argentina for “minor matters” during the dictatorship. He denied any involvement in the disappearance of Adalberto Soba and Alberto Mechoso, kidnapped in Buenos Aires on 26 September 1976 and in the kidnapping and disappearance of Maria Claudia García de Gelman. Regarding the matter of money allegedly seized in Argentina by Uruguayan military for People’s Victory Party (PVP), the ex-colonel claimed to have knowledge of the event only after it occurred. Likewise, he denied any involvement and knowledge of a clandestine flight that moved Orletti prisoners to Uruguay.

The former colonel has had more than one heart surgery and his health deteriorated markedly during the 50 days he was detained at the Army Division I in the Prado. For humanitarian reasons, President Tabaré Vázquez decided to allow him to serve preventive detention in his home, instead of in the Central Prison.

On 19 June 2002, with the help of the Center of Legal and Social Studies, the families of Juan Gelman and María Claudia García brought a complaint against Ramas Pereira and six other militaries for the disappearance of Maria Claudia Garcia Iruretagoyena de Gelman.

legal procedure

On 19 June 2002, with the help of the Center of Legal and Social Studies, the families of Juan Gelman and María Claudia García brought a complaint against Ramas Pereira and six other militaries for the disappearance of Maria Claudia Garcia Iruretagoyena de Gelman.

CASE MARÍA CLAUDIA GARCÍA

On 8 May 2006, Judge Aida Vera Barreto ordered the preventive detention of Ernesto Ramas Pereira, along with Jose Gavazzo, José Ricardo Arab Fernández, Jorge Alberto Silveira Quesada, Gilberto Valentin Vázquez Bisio and Ricardo José Medina Blanco, based on an extradition request from Argentinean judge Daniel Rafecas, who is investigating the 1976 disappearance in Buenos Aires of Maria Claudia Garcia Irureta Goyena, daughter-in-law of Uruguayan writer Juan Gelman.

On 24 February 2011, as a result of the campaigning by the victim’s relatives, the Inter American Court of Human Rights ordered the Uruguayan state to shed more light on the case. The Court also found the Uruguayan state responsible for the disappearance of the young woman, and ordered the state to pay almost US$ 513,000 to the claimants in compensation. Moreover, it was held that the Uruguayan Limitation Act was contrary to the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women.

On 27 October 2011, the criminal court in Montevideo decided to indict him for the especially aggravated homicide of María Claudia García and for removal of a minor and revocation of civil status in the case of Macarena. The judge rejected the qualification of « Enforced Disappearance». Gavazzo, Arab and Vázquez Bisio were also indicted in this case.

On 21 March 2012, President José Mujica publicly recognized the responsibility of Uruguay in the enforced disappearance of María Claudia García and the birth in captivity of Macarena. The state also recognized that the “Ley de Caducidad” represents an obstacle to justice.

CASE OF 28 ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES

On 11 September 2006 in Montevideo, Uruguayan criminal court judge Luis Charles indicted Ernesto Ramas Pereira, along with Vázquez Bisio, Silveira Quesada, Gavazzo, Arab Fernández, Luis Alfredo Maurente Mata and Jose Felipe Sande Lima on charges of “deprivation of liberty” and “association to commit crime” for the September 1976 disappearance of leftist activist Adalberto Waldemar Soba, Alberto Mechoso, Gerardo Gatti and Leon Duarte, members of the Uruguayan leftist People’s Victory Party (PVP).

On 26 March 2009, the criminal judge 19 sentenced Silveira to 25 years in prison as an author responsible for 28 crimes of especially aggravated homicide. The judge also sentenced Vázquez Bisio and Ramas Pereira to 25 years and Maurente Mata, Medina Blanco and Sande Lima to 20 years in prison. On 1 July 2010, the Appeal Criminal Court 2 confirmed this sentence.

On 6 May 2011, the Supreme Court of Justice, following a request from Arab and Gavazzo, considered that at the material time, in 1976, the crime of enforced disappearance did not exist. Thus, the Court rejected the use of this notion, claiming that it only appeared in a law of October 2006.

PROCEEDINGS IN ARGENTINA

This case is also being investigated in Argentina, in the case of the Condor Plan, entitled « Videla Jorge Rafael and others for illegal deprivation of liberty ».

On 8 May 2006, an Argentinean judge requests the extradition of Ramas Pereira, as well as Medina Blanco, Vázquez Bisio, Arab Fernandez, Gavazzo and Silveira Quesada. The Uruguayan Supreme Court accepted that request on 7 December 2006, ordering that they be extradited as soon as they will have served their sentence in Uruguay. The Appeal Court confirmed this decision in September 2008 and the Supreme Court of Justice on 3 November 2008. It is the first time that Uruguay authorizes the extradition of militaries for violations of human rights committed during the dictatorship.

context

SUMMARY OF THE FACTS

Upon accession to the presidency, in December 1967, of Jorge Pacheco Areco, Uruguay entered a long period of repression. In order to confront the social movements and trade unions due to the serious economic and social crisis in the country, security measures were voted and maintained durably, especially censorship and detention without charges. To repress the socialists and communists, the Pacheco government supported the death squadrons and the police started to make use of torture.

In November 1971, Juan María Bordaberry, supporter by Pacheco, won the elections and the army took so much importance that they gained significant control over Bordaberry after a coup in 1973. The military dictatorship dissolved the political parties, suspended the Constitution and put one out of 450 inhabitants of Uruguay in jail.

In In the years 1970, the Uruguayan government joined Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Chile and Bolivia, all governed by dictatorial regimes and all controlled by the CIA, to coordinate their efforts in order to eliminate political opponents, regularly subjecting them to torture. In that context of persecutions, violence was used in a systematical way to exterminate the “communist world”.

This plan, called “Operation Condor”, operated in three major ways: the activities of political monitoring of dissident political refugees and people in exile, secret counter-insurrectional actions and joint actions of extermination directed against specific groups or individuals, for which special teams of killers operating in and outside the borders were formed (also in Europe and the United States). The opponents were placed in clandestine detention centers. The military dictatorship only ended with the elections in 1984 and the liberation of political prisoners in 1985.

LAW OF EXPIRY ON PUNITIVE CLAIMS BY THE STATE

In 1986, in order to promote national reconciliation, president Sanguinetti approved the Law of expiry on punitive claims by the State, which grants amnesty de facto for all crimes committed by the military during the dictatorship and until 1985, any prosecution having to be approved by the executive. It is only under the presidency of Tabaré Vazquez (socialist), in 2005, that the executive started to authorize prosecutions against militaries involved in violations of human rights. Finally, on 27 October 2011, the Uruguayan Congress adopted a law that considers the crimes committed during the military rule as crimes against humanity and therefore imprescriptible and that eliminates the effects of the 1986 Amnesty Law.

COMMISSION FOR PEACE

In October 2000, president Jorge Battle created a Commission for Peace, which has no judicial power but can investigate and establish facts in its report, published in 2003. However, the Commission for Peace itself admits that its work was insufficient because it had to face the reluctance of the armed forces and of the police. A survey has shown that 80% of the persons aged 18 to 29 years old in Uruguay are unable to give the name of one dictator.