Gilberto Valentin Vázquez Bisio

27.04.2016 ( Last modified: 07.09.2016 )
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facts

Gilberto Valentin Vázquez Bisio was born on 20 August 1945. He joined the army in March 1963. He was a Colonel of the Uruguyan army under the military dictatorship. He was also a member of the Defence Information Service (SID) led by Colonel Juan Antonio Rodríguez Buratti and of the Anti-Subversive Activities Co-ordination Organization (OCOA), an organisation active in Uruguay and Argentina.

During the years of the military dictatorship in Uruguay (1973-1985), about 200 Uruguayans – mainly leftist activists – were victims of enforced disappearance. The vast majority of these disappearances occurred in Argentina as part of Operation Condor.

The purpose of this operation was to find a regional response to the security of the Southern Cone countries against the subversive alliances in the south of the continent. The operation was to target the regional activities of the Revolutionary Coordinating Junta (JCR), composed of the MLN-Tupamaros (Uruguay), the People’s Revolutionary Army (ERP), Argentina; Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR) of Chile and the National Liberation Army (ELN) of Bolivia.

Some intelligence documents found in 2005 show that “Operation Condor” was conducted by five countries, ranked in alphabetical order: Argentina was “Condor 1,” Bolivia “Condor 2,” Chile “Condor 3”, Paraguay “Condor 4” and Uruguay “Condor 5.” Brazil did not participate formally in the operation, but cooperated with its neighbours in the coordination of the repression.

Vazquez and other Uruguayan militaries, responsible for various crimes, were protected by the Act known as the Law on the Expiration of the Punitive Claims of the State that allowed impunity for police officers and soldiers who committed violations of human rights. This law, passed in 1986, under Sanguinetti’s rule -the first president elected after the restoration of democracy- was confirmed in 1989 and 2009 by two referendums.

However, the administration of President Tabaré Vázquez (2005-2010) gave a new interpretation to the Expiry Law, allowing judging a number of former officers for crimes committed during the military rule.

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

legal procedure

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

On 3 July 2006, Vázquez managed to escape during a transfer to the military hospital where he was supposed to receive medical care. He was eventually captured, and imprisoned again several days later.

PROCEEDINGS IN URUGUAY

On 11 September 2006, Judge Luis Charles indicted Vazquez, along with five other former military officials- Jorge Silveira, Ernesto Avelino Rama Pereira, Jose Nino Gavazzo, Luis Alfredo Maurente Mata, Jose Ricardo Arab Fernandez -and two former police officers – Ricardo Medina and Jose Felipe Lima Sande.

The eight former officers were accused of the disappearances, in Argentina, in September 1976, of Adalberto Waldemar Soba, Alberto Mechoso, Gerardo Gatti and Leon Duarte, all members of the leftist Uruguayan Party for the Victory of the People (PVP). The case also concerns the disappearance, in 1974, of Washington Barrios, a member of the National Liberation Movement-Tupamaros.

On 26 March 2009, Vázquez, along with Gavazzo, Arab, Ramas, Maurente and Silveira, and the police officers Medina and Sande, was found guilty of the death of 28 Uruguayans inmates in Argentina, most of them being members of the Party for the Victory of the People (PVP). In that case, Vazquez, Gavazzo, Ramas, Arab, Silveira were sentenced to 25 years in prison, while Maurente, Medina and Sande received a sentence of 20 years.

In May 2011, the Supreme Court of Uruguay considered by majority decision that the human rights violations committed under the last military dictatorship are a breach of common law and not crimes against humanity. This statement was made in response to the request for clarification made by the prosecution of Uruguay, with respect to the conviction of Vazquez and the other officers found guilty of 28 “very especially aggravated homicide.

The judgment dismissed the complaint that the prosecution had accused Vázquez and the other defendants of crimes of “enforced disappearance” as crimes against humanity. The Court 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.

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 Silveira Quesada were also indicted in this case.

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 ».

In May 2006, an Argentinian judge requests the extradition of Vázquez Bisio, Silveira Quesada, Medina Blanco and Ramas Pereira. The Uruguayan Supreme Court accepted that request in November 2008, ordering that they be extradited as soon as they will have served their sentence in Uruguay. 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.