Videla, Jorge Rafael (1925–)
Videla, Jorge Rafael (1925–)
Jorge Rafael Videla (b. 2 August 1925), military leader and president of Argentina (1976–1981). Born in Mercedes, province of Buenos Aires, he graduated from the Military Academy (Colegio Militar) in 1944. During his early career he was rewarded with assignments of significant responsibility and educational opportunity. In 1954 he graduated from the Senior War College, and he became the director of the Military Academy in 1971. Two years later Videla was promoted to chief of the General Staff, the number two position in the army. In 1975, General Videla was elevated to commander in chief of the Argentine Army.
These were trying times for Argentina. Juan Perón died on 1 July 1974 and his wife, María Estela Martínez de Perón, a political novice, succeeded him. Urban guerrilla violence increased significantly; kidnappings, assassinations, and car bombings were common. Also, the country was staggering under triple-digit inflation. On 24 March 1976 the Argentine armed forces seized control of the government. General Videla emerged as its leader and was declared president of the republic.
Videla carried out an aggressive war against the guerrillas. He retired in 1981, turning the government over to his handpicked successor, General Roberto Viola. Videla and other members of the military juntas that ruled between 1976 and 1982 were tried for excesses committed during what became known as the Dirty War. The defendants were charged with imprisonment without charge, torture, and executions. On 9 December 1985 Videla was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. In December 1990 he was released under a general amnesty. In 1998 his amnesty was revoked, and he spent thirty-eight days imprisoned in the old Caseros Prison, convicted of kidnapping minors during the Dirty War. His sentence was later changed to house arrest due to his poor health. Ever since the 2003 election of President Néstor Kirchner, the Argentinean government has sought to prove that Videla was not a legal president of the country. In September 2006 a federal judge decided that the pardon which had been granted to him in 1990 was unconstitutional. On 25 April 2007 he was reconvicted of human rights abuses.
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Seoane, María, and Vicente Muleiro. El dictador: La historia secreta y pública de Jorge Rafael Videla. Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 2001.
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