Jorge Alberto Silveira Quesada

27.04.2016 ( Last modified: 13.06.2016 )
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facts

Jorge Alberto Silveira Quesada was born on 20 September 1945 in Uruguay. He joined the Army in 1965 and began to serve in the Infantry. In 1968, he enrolled at the School of the Americas to study for a Special Cadet Course. In 1971, he joined the Artillery Group No. 1, based at La Paloma, as First Lieutenant. He was promoted to Captain in 1976, acting as Commander in the Coordinating Agency of Counterinsurgency Operations (OCOA) in the “300 Carlos” and “Hell” operations. Despite the many complaints against him, he later became a Parliamentary official and continued his military career until his retirement as a Colonel in 2000.

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, it is believed that the military played a major role in the murder and forced disappearance of between 10,000 and 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. In particular, victims included militants of the Movement of National Liberation, the Party for People’s Victory, and the Communist Party, especially the Communist Youth Union. In 1986, Uruguay returned to a democracy. The same year, an Amnesty Law (Ley de Caducidad) was passed under President Julio Maria Sanguinetti, bringing an end to the prosecution of soldiers and police involved in human rights violations during the dictatorship.

During his time in the Army, Silveira served in all major centres of torture: the “Infierno Grande” (Argentina) of the 13th Infantry Battalion, the “Tablada“ that replaced it from 1977, the Defense Information Service, “Automotive Orletti” in Buenos Aires, and the women’s concentration camp known as “Punta Rails” in Uruguay, officially called Military Detention Establishment No. 2 (EMR2), where he was Chief Warden.

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 Silveira 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 Silveira and six other militaries for the disappearance of Maria Claudia Garcia Iruretagoyena de Gelman.

CASE MARÍA CLAUDIA GARCÍA

At the time she was kidnapped, María Claudia García was 19 years old and pregnant. Following the birth of her daughter, Macarena, on 1 November 1976, it is believed that María Claudia García was murdered. However, the remains of the victim were never found.

From 2003 onwards, the proceeding were suspended and restarted repeatedly for various reasons, mainly linked with the Expiry Law (Ley de Caducidad) voted in 1986 and giving an amnesty to authors of violations of human rights committed during the military dictatorship in Uruguay, between 1973 and 1985. On 27 June 2005, a criminal tribunal of Montevideo restarts the proceedings after a decision of the executive power according to which the facts of the case could not benefit from the Expiry Law. Indeed, that law only covered acts committed for political reasons, while María Claudia García was not a political opponent and had only been sequestered for the purpose of abducting her daughter. Moreover, the facts had been partially committed in Argentina, country not covered by the Expiry Law.

On 8 May 2006, Judge Aida Vera Barreto ordered preventive detention of Jorge Silveira Quesada along with Ernesto Avelino Ramas Pereira, Jose Gavazzo, José Ricardo Arab Fernández, 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 Iruretagoyena de Gelman, 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, Silveira was indicted before the Uruguayan criminal court, along with Vázquez Bisio, Ramas Pereira, Gavazzo, Arab Fernández, Luis Alfredo Maurente Mata, Medina Blanco and Jose Felipe Sande Lima on charges of “deprivation of liberty” and “association to commit crime”. The charges related to the disappearance in September 1976 of Adalberto Soba, Alberto Mechoso, Leon Durarte, Gerardo Gatti and Washington Barrios, members of the People’s Victory Party (PVP), a militant Uruguayan leftist party, who had fled to Argentina prior to the March 1976 coup that brought the military to power in Buenos Aires.

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.

On 27 July 2011, the Supreme Court of Justice confirmed the sentence against Silveira.

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 Silveira, as well as Medina Blanco, Vázquez Bisio, Arab Fernandez, Gavazzo and Ramas Pereira. 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.