Montevideo, Uruguay- March 21, 2012 – On March 21, the president of Uruguay Jose Mujica publicly recognized, in the name of the Uruguayan State, its responsibility for the enforced disappearance of Maria Claudia Garcia Iruretagoyena de Gelman and the birth in captivity of her daughter Macarena Gelman, in 1976, during the Uruguayan military dictatorship. The events took place under Operation Condor, the coordination between repressive regimes of the Southern Cone. The State also recognized that the Ley de Caducidad de la Pretensión Punitiva del Estado (similar to an Amnesty Law) represents an obstacle to justice.
The act of recognition, was held in the grounds of the Uruguayan Parliament’s General Assembly, was attended by Argentine poet Juan Gelman and his granddaughter Macarena, President Jose Mujica, Foreign Affairs Minister Luis Almagro, senior authorities, family members, survivors, members of civil society and other citizens. The event was ordered by a ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on February 24, 2011.
The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the organization that litigated the case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on behalf of Macarena and Juan Gelman, highlights the importance of the State´s public recognition. It must be considered a definite step forward in the path towards truth, justice and redress for the Gelman case and the multiple human rights violations that occurred during the last military dictatorship In Uruguay.
In the words of Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of CEJIL: "The Gelman case is a milestone in the pursuit of truth and justice in Uruguay regarding the serious human rights violations that occurred during the dictatorships in South America. We hope that the State´s recognition of responsibility will serve as an impulse to locate Maria Claudia’s whereabouts and to convict those responsible for this and other Crimes Against Humanity committed during the Uruguayan dictatorship, that remain unpunished. We also hope this political event will inspire the search for justice and truth in other countries in the region that have still not dealt with the atrocities committed in the recent past, such as Brazil and El Salvador”.
On the morning of March 21, a plaque was inaugurated in memory of Maria Claudia and the victims of State terrorism, illegally detained at the Center for National Studies (CALEN), a military institution that served as a clandestine detention center during the dictatorship. These facilities were recently handed over to the National Institution for Human Rights.
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