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  • Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez and General Claudio Feola walks after Feola's designation as new Commanding General of the Uruguayan Army in Montevideo, Uruguay April 8, 2019.

    Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez and General Claudio Feola walks after Feola's designation as new Commanding General of the Uruguayan Army in Montevideo, Uruguay April 8, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 April 2019

"We have 30 years of democracy and yet [army officers] continue to speak as if they were in a dictatorship," said Patiño.

Uruguay’s new army commander-in-chief Claudio Feola said at his inauguration Monday that "he is not in a position" to affirm whether allegations of human rights violations during the civil-military dictatorship (1973-1985) are real.

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"I am not in a position because I do not know if it is real or it is not real. There are very old people here who could even have a psychological test because they had been under so much pressure," Feola said.

The words of Feola arose after a representative of the organization Mothers and Families of Disappeared Detainees asked the new commander to renounce events that occurred during the coup d'état. The commander-in-chief said that he will not repudiate what happened because he does not know if it is confirmed.

Nilo Patiño, a member of the organization, told EFE Tuesday that army officers speak as if the country was still in a dictatorship.

Although Feola said later in a statement that he did not intend to "ignore the existence of missing persons" in the South American country. Patiño said it was a way of "patching" the situation and that the text was not written by the commander.

"(The statements) are horrifying. It is a new confirmation of a thing that we have been supporting for a long time, that one of the most serious problems we have is the training of the new officers," said Patiño.

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For Patiño, not being able to confirm the crimes of the past due to lack of certainty is like taking a step forward and retreating three. That the newly appointed Minister of Defense, Jose Bayardi, could attempt to "cover it up" is something "very serious" he said.

Bayardi told the press that the commander did not want to ignore the disappeared and that he was affected by inexperience with the media.

However, Patiño stressed that the commander is "professionally trained" and therefore the minister's justifications are "unacceptable."

"There is a whole litter of army officers who have lost their minds. We have 30 years of democracy and yet they continue to speak as if they were in a dictatorship," said Patiño.

In recent weeks there has been a wave of dismissals at the top of the Army after the leaking of the confessions of ex-military Jose Gavazzo during the dictatorship that had been omitted by the authorities.

Gavazzo's statements came to light after the local newspaper El Observador published on March 30 the contents of the minutes of the Army Honor Court.

Patiño said the organization is concerned that information has come through the press and not the executive branch which makes them doubt whether the government intended to hide it.

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