Argentina’s military dictatorship on trial


This video from the USA says about itself:

Argentine Torture Survivor Tells of Her Struggle to Bring Her Torturers to Justice

12 November 2010

Democracy Now! speak with Patricia Isasa, a torture survivor from Argentina’s military dictatorship. She was a 16-year old student union organizer in 1976 when she was kidnapped by police and soldiers. She was tortured and held prisoner without trial for two-and-a-half years at one of the 585 clandestine detention and torture centers set up during the dictatorship. After a long legal battle to bring her torturers to justice, six of her nine torturers were recently sentenced to prison.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Dictatorship-era soldiers to reveal missing dead

Thursday 11th December 2014

FOUR former soldiers charged with committing crimes against humanity during Argentina‘s 1976-1983 military dictatorship have said they will admit guilt and help to identify victims and burial sites.

Presiding judge Diaz Gavier said on Wednesday that the men had “voluntarily expressed their intention to provide information that will facilitate the location of some human remains.”

The four are on trial for participation in crimes committed at clandestine detention centres in Cordoba province during the US-backed dictatorship that cost the lives of 30,000 people.

Ernesto Barreiro, who is accused by human rights groups of being the chief torturer at the La Perla detention centre, indicated places on Wednesday where 25 missing people might have been buried.

Mr Barreiro led a 1987 military rebellion that forced the elected government of President Raul Alfonsin to pass an amnesty law for accused human rights abusers.

The amnesty law was overturned almost two decades later, allowing prosecutors to reopen hundreds of cases.

Anne Frank statue in Argentina


Anne Frank statue, Merweedeplein, Amsterdam

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Anne Frank statue unveiled in Argentina

Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 21:39

In Argentina, a statue of Anne Frank has been unveiled. The statue is in Buenos Aires on the Plaza Reina de Holanda.

The artwork is a replica of the bronze statue which stands on the Merwedeplein in the Amsterdam Rivierenbuurt neighbourhood, by sculptress Jet Schepp. The 74-year old artist was present at the unveiling in Argentina.

The statue of Anne Frank has been put there on the International Human Rights Day. The monument is a joint initiative including the Argentine Ministry of Education, the Dutch Embassy in Argentina and Centro Ana Frank Argentina.

The statue at the Amsterdam Merwedeplein was unveiled in 2005. Anne Frank lived for almost ten years at the square before the Frank family went into hiding in 1942 at the Prinsengracht.

Classical music world tour, new film


This video is the trailer of Heddy Honigmann‘s new film on the jubilee world tour of the Concertgebouw Orchestra from the Netherlands.

I saw that film on 7 December 2014 in a crowded cinema. The name of the film is Around the world in 50 concerts (Dutch: Om de wereld in 50 concerten).

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 2013 made a tour around the world, as they had been founded 125 years ago. The film is not about all places where the orchestra played then.

It concentrates on four cities: Amsterdam, where the orchestra is usually. Buenos Aires in Argentina. Johannesburg in South Africa. And Saint Petersburg in Russia.

In the opening scene of the film, we see an empty Concertgebouw hall in Amsterdam. Well, not completely empty: there is one musician. A percussionist. He explains that he plays in a symphony by Bruckner, which lasts ninety minutes. During all that time, he says, he just has to do one thing: crash the cymbals once. He has to watch out not to crash the cymbals at the wrong time, as what the other musicians play is quite unchanging for some time before the cymbals’ short, but important role. It would be interesting at this point to mention the difference between the roles of percussionists in classical music versus jazz or rock, where they play during most of the music.

Amsterdam is also in another film scene: an open air concert by the Concertgebouw Orchestra at the inner city canals of Amsterdam; more precisely, the Prinsengracht. There, they play the song ‘Aan de Amsterdamse grachten‘, about these canals.

It is not really classical music, more a music hall waltz, about the beauty of the canals. In the 1970s, there was a political satirical version of the lyrics, wishing that politicians like Dries van Agt and Hans Wiegel (then Prime Minister, respectively Vice Prime Minister) should preferably be ‘in the Amsterdam canals, or, still better, under tramway #10′.

After the first scene in the Concertgebouw, the film continues with transporting the many instruments to the airport for the world tour. The violin cases have to be packed inside plastic ‘winter coats': as it is cold inside aircraft holds, and else the transition to hot concert halls would be a problem for instruments.

The aircraft brings the orchestra to South America. The continent where director Honigmann (originally from Peru) was born.

Memorial Park wall, with names of dictatorship's victimsMs Honigmann interviews a Buenos Aires taxi driver about the role of classical music in his life. She also shows images of a monument to the bloody Argentinian dictatorship: a wall where victims’ names are inscribed. Buenos Aires in 1997 opened the Memorial Park – A Monument to the Victims of State Terrorism.

Heddy Honigmann’s camera pans over the names of the junta’s victims; but without any explanation. It is a pity that as a spectator one is supposed to already know about Argentinean history beforehand.

After South America, the film moves to Johannesburg in South Africa.

There, the orchestra members are not only depicted as playing music, but also as listening to music: the sounds of the Soweto Marimba Youth League.

This video is called Soweto Marimba Youth League performs at Rosebank Market. Johannesburg, South Africa.

The film also has an interview with a Johannesburg violin player. He told that, when he was small, during the apartheid regime, he wanted to learn to play the violin. But his parents did not have money for a violin or for music lessons. His father gave him a violin bow. He then played ‘air violin‘. White music teachers did not want to teach this young black boy, as they were afraid of the apartheid system. Finally, a Jewish music teacher was willing to teach ‘as Jews knew what it is like to be discriminated against’, the now elderly violinist told. Now, he teaches the Soweto Youth Orchestra.

The final scenes of the film are in Saint Petersburg in Russia. There, Ms Honigmann has an interview with elderly Sergey. He tells his ancestors were nobility during the czars’ empire. They used to like Gustav Mahler‘s music. Things went well with the family, until Sergey was twelve years old in 1937. Then, the Stalin regime arrested his father and later executed him. When Sergey was fifteen, he became a prisoner of the German nazi invaders and was put into a concentration camp which he barely survived. He was very happy to hear the Concertgebouw orchestra play Mahler.

Southern right whales get satelitte tags for first time


This video is called Breeding Southern Right Whales – Attenborough – Life of Mammals – BBC.

From Wildlife Extra:

Right Whales tagged for first time to help solve mystery

For the first time satellite tags are being used to remotely track Southern Right Whales from their breeding/calving grounds in the sheltered bays of Península Valdés, Argentina, to unknown feeding grounds somewhere in the western South Atlantic.

It is hoped the results from the study will help solve why more than 400 Southern Right Whale calves have died between 2003-2011.

Different hypotheses put forward for this mortality include disease, certain types of contaminant, and harassment and wounding by kelp gulls, a frequent occurrence in Península Valdés.

Over the past month, a team of top scientists from a range of organisations, including the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Aqualie Institute of Brazil and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have succeeded in affixing satellite transmitters to five Southern Right Whales in Golfo Nuevo.

This area is one of the two protected gulfs of Península Valdés and an important breeding ground for southern right whales. The team selected calving females and solitary juveniles so they can glean insights into habitat use and migratory movements for different sex and age groups.

“Over the last several centuries, and as recent as the 1960s, southern right whales were hunted, at times close to the verge of extinction. But they have now managed to rebound in numbers thanks to protected refuges such as Península Valdés,” said Dr. Martín Mendez, Assistant Director of WCS’s Latin America and the Caribbean Program.

“The recent increase in mortality is being caused by something that remains unsolved. Determining where the whales go to feed may offer clues to solving this complex question.”

So far the data received shows that two of the five whales have remained in the waters of Golfo Nuevo, while the other three have already left the bay. One of the animals is currently in deep waters of the South Atlantic, one has been spending its time over the continental shelf, and another has moved into deep offshore waters, but has returned to the continental shelf break.

“As the tags continue to transmit, we hope our whales lead us to new insights about their lives in the vastness of the South Atlantic and provide possible clues related to the die-off,” said Dr. Howard Rosenbaum of WCS’s Ocean Giants Program.

Bolivia extradites Argentine dictatorship torture suspect


This video from the USA says about itself:

Argentine Torture Survivor Tells of Her Struggle to Bring Her Torturers to Justice

12 November 2010

Democracy Now! speak with Patricia Isasa, a torture survivor from Argentina’s military dictatorship. She was a 16-year old student union organizer in 1976 when she was kidnapped by police and soldiers. She was tortured and held prisoner without trial for two-and-a-half years at one of the 585 clandestine detention and torture centers set up during the dictatorship. After a long legal battle to bring her torturers to justice, six of her nine torturers were recently sentenced to prison.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Bolivia deports former Argentine army captain over role in military junta’s dirty war

Tuesday 12th August 2014

Bolivia has deported an Argentine ex-army officer convicted of serious rights abuses during the “dirty war” carried out by his country’s 1976-83 military regime.

Jorge Horacio Paez Senestrari “was handed over to authorities of his country” on the border with Argentina, Bolivian Interior Minister Jorge Perez said yesterday.

Mr Perez said that Paez Senestrari — an infantry captain posted in the Argentine town of San Juan during the dictatorship — was captured on Friday morning in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz.

Then Interior Ministry said there was an Interpol red notice for his arrest.

An Argentinian court had sentenced Paez Senestrari in absentia to 25 years on charges of “aggravated homicide, violation of domicile and torture.”

An estimated 30,000 people were killed or abducted and presumed killed under Argentina’s military dictatorship.

In 2012, former dictators Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for abuses in office.