BUENOS AIRES – A group of former political prisoners protested on Wednesday to demand pension payments under Argentina’s reparations laws, saying the government has been ignoring their plight.
Arriving in the capital from different parts of the country, the roughly 30 demonstrators gathered outside the Human Rights Secretariat seeking to personally convey their demands to the head of that portfolio, Claudio Avruj.
After he did not receive them, the former political prisoners and relatives of individuals who suffered from state terrorism during Argentina’s 1976-1983 dictatorship and the tumultuous preceding years held a march in downtown Buenos Aires.
One of the demonstrators, Liliana Martin, who was detained in 1977 at the infamous Navy School of Mechanics, or ESMA, the largest clandestine detention center during the dictatorship, noted that survivors’ testimony was responsible for putting perpetrators of genocide behind bars.
The dirty war carried out by the military regime against leftist subversives and political enemies is blamed for anywhere from 18,000 to 30,000 deaths, depending on the source.
“There are more than 28,000 files that are completely on hold, and our comrades are dying. We don’t have any more time,” she said.
The demonstrators said the claims date back to the 1980s, when democracy in Argentina was restored, but the petitions specifically refer to non-compliance with a law enacted in 2013, when President Mauricio Macri’s predecessor, Cristina Fernandez, was in office.
For his part, Avruj told EFE he did not receive the demonstrators on Wednesday because they had not requested a formal appointment, although he said he was working on the issue and on Tuesday met with members of a separate association.
Avruj acknowledged delays in resolving the claims, blaming the previous government for leaving “some 26,000 half-processed, unfinished applications” that had been filed over the previous three years.