Chiefs of Argentine Army, Air Force and Navy Quit in Wake of Mutiny
The chiefs of Argentina’s army, air force and navy resigned Tuesday, the army high command said in a statement. The moves came amid charges that the army commander made a deal with military rebels to end a four-day revolt earlier this month.
The resignations appeared to be concessions to the mutineers and pose military and political problems for President Raul Alfonsin as he campaigns for May 14 presidential elections.
Alfonsin made no public comment, but he is expected to accept the resignations of Lt. Gen. Jose Dante Caridi of the army, Gen. Miguel Abbate of the navy and Lt. Gen. Enrique Bianchi of the air force.
Caridi met with Alfonsin for 1 1/2 hours before announcing his decision, the state news agency TELAM said in a statement on the resignations. It gave no reasons or details.
Alfonsin is to address the Argentine Congress on Wednesday in a special session focusing on the Dec. 1-4 military insurrection, the third uprising in 20 months.
Rebels led by army Col. Mohamed Ali Seineldin sought the resignation of Caridi, an end to the prosecution of officers for human rights abuses committed during the 1976-83 military regime and an increased military budget, including pay raises.
On Dec. 3, Alfonsin ordered the army to “suffocate” the rebellion. The next day, he announced that the mutineers had surrendered unconditionally.
But political opponents accused Alfonsin or Caridi of cutting a deal with the rebels.
Alfonsin denied making any deal. Nevertheless, a 20% pay increase and a $100 bonus was granted to soldiers.
On Saturday, Defense Minister Jose Horacio Jaunarena said in a speech that the so-called dirty war against leftist subversion in the late 1970s was necessary--effectively endorsing the army’s position and infuriating human rights groups.
The “dirty war” takes its name from the arrests, disappearances and presumed killings of about 9,000 civilians.
Caridi was Alfonsin’s fourth army chief in five years.
Caridi may have paved the way for his departure by saying in an interview last Friday that the insurrection ended when he and Seineldin spoke and “realized that our aspirations coincided.”
“And so the question: Why confront one another to produce bloodshed if what they (rebels) were asking, the army was trying to achieve,” Caridi said.
Argentina’s two main political parties have said they will not allow Congress to pass amnesty legislation to halt the human rights trials, which are about to resume after a year’s lapse.