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  • Uruguay's 24th March of Silence assembled thousands to call for justice.

    Uruguay's 24th March of Silence assembled thousands to call for justice. | Photo: @UComrades

Published 20 May 2019 (20 hours 20 minutes ago)

This year march is mainly fueled following the confessions of dictatorship-era military published on March 30 in a local newspaper El Observador.

"Let them tell us where they are: against the impunity of yesterday and today" was the call on Monday of this year's March of Silence, an annual act done in remembrance of those disappeared and killed by Uruguay’s 1970-80s dictatorship.

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"This is a special year for everything that has happened. The rulings of the Courts of Honor that tell us what the Armed Forces are thinking today..in short, that is a consecration of maintaining impunity," Ignacio Errandonea, member of the group Mothers and Families of Disappeared Detainees told Montevideo Portal.

People started congregating at 7:00 pm local time at the corner of Rivera and Jackson in the country’s capital Montevideo. The march began heading to Liberty Square where the names of the disappeared were read out loud and the National Anthem was sung by all. Simultaneously 27 locations throughout the country and several cities in Chile, Argentina, and Spain joined the rally as well. 

As Errandonea mentioned, this year's march was mainly fueled following the confessions of dictatorship-era military published on March 30 in a local newspaper El Observador. Former soldier Jose "Nino" Gavazzo admitted to having thrown the body of leftist Tupamaro militant Roberto Gomensoro into the Negro River in 1973 with the intent to make him disappear. 

While Jorge "Pajarito" Silveira accused Gavazzo of murdering Gomensoro, as well as young activist Maria Claudia Garcia de Gelman, who was pregnant at the time of her abduction, and another detainee. Despite the evidence, in September 2018, the military court concluded the acts of both involved did not affect the army's honor according to documents signed by the Minister of Defense and his deputy minister, Daniel Montiel; dismissing the confession altogether.

Uruguayan President Tabare Vasquez announced on April 1 the dismissal of top officials in the Ministry of Defense and the Army Court of Honor over covering up human rights violations during an investigation into a case dating back to the country’s military dictatorship.

Presidential candidate and former Army commander in chief, Manini Rios, declared that there is a "totally false" version in which the Uruguayan Army Honor Court covered up the former military man Gavazzo, heavily criticizing President Vasquez for his decision, and raising alarms once again, as his demeanor has been compared to current Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s. 

While Saturday, on the Day of the Armed Forces, new Commander in Chief Claudio Feola, rejected "excesses and deviations from the past and undertook to clarify cases of human rights violations,” yet clarified that many of the denounced acts were not "confirmed".

"It can not be that the Armed Forces continue being commanded by people who think as they did back in the dictatorship. From Mothers and Family, we think that it is a fact that hurts the sensitivity of any human being," Errandonea added. 

Hundreds were arrested and tortured during the dictatorship and around 192 people were forcibly disappeared. More than 40 members of the military have been investigated over accusations of human rights crimes while some have died in prison.

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