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Former Argentine president arrested in Madrid

Saturday, January 13th 2007 - 20:00 UTC
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Mrs. Maria Estela Martinez de Perón Mrs. Maria Estela Martinez de Perón

Spanish police arrested Friday former Argentine president Maria Estela Martinez de Peron, 75, in her home in Madrid over the disappearance of a leftist activist in 1976.

"The arrest was done following the warrant received a few hours ago from Interpol office in Madrid", said the Spanish police in a release. An Argentine judge from the province of Mendoza on Thursday issued a warrant for her arrest, in connection with a right-wing paramilitary group active during her time in office, 1974/1976. The group was known as Triple A and allegedly conducted targeted killings of left-wing opponents on government orders in the 1970s. The case involves the disappearance of Hector Fagetti Gallego following his arrest on February 26, 1976, just a month before the military coup which ousted former President Isabel Peron. From her home in the outskirts of Madrid Ms Peron was driven to the Prosecutor's Office where she was informed of the reasons of her arrest and extradition request. If she rejects extradition a long legal process begins. Argentine judge Raul Acosta alleges that the disappearance of the activist, Hector Aldo Fagetti Gallego, was in effect authorized by her signature of three decrees allowing Argentina's armed forces to take "annihilation" actions against "subversives". The three October 1975 decrees were also signed by the surviving Antonio Cafiero and Carlos Ruckauf who at the time held the ministerial posts in Economy and Labor. However Cafiero because of age has been exempt and Ruckauf currently a member of Congress enjoys immunity. Mrs Peron is also the third wife of former President Juan Domingo Peron who as acting vice president took over from him on his death July 1974. Her twenty months in office were wracked by violence and killings until she was ousted by a military coup in 1976. After spending several years in house arrest she left for Spain where she has been living since 1981. A dancer by profession, in 1955 "Isabelita" met her future husband, --who had recently fled Argentina following a successful military uprising--, while in a cabaret in Panama where she was performing. From Panama the couple moved to Venezuela, Dominican Republic and finally Spain where they married in 1961. Isabelita rapidly became involved in her husband's politics and attempts to return to Argentina, acting as his personal envoy. Finally in 1973 when the triumphant return of Peron to Argentina putting an end to 17 years of exile, she's in full stage and in October following a landslide electoral victory her husband becomes president and she is sworn in as vice president. On the death of the ageing leader on July 1974, Isabelita becomes president but left wing radical guerrillas together with Trotskyite groupings launch a spiral of violence and killings which quickly found its counter weight, the notorious Argentine Anticommunist Alliance, Triple A, parallel police death squads organized by Mrs. Peron most trusted advisor and Social Welfare minister Jose Lopez Rega. A former police officer, turned Peron's bodyguard and valet in Madrid, plus amateur sorcerer, Lopez Rega was the man behind the throne and the fragile Isabelita, until the military acting on Argentines' fatigue with violence, disorder, instability and hyperinflation ousted the crumbling and increasingly isolated administration. It must be added that Isabelita's legacy was followed by one of the most brutal and bloodthirsty military regimes (1976/1983) Argentina has ever experienced including overseas armed adventures such as the 1982 war with the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands and a last minute cancelled attack against Chile in 1978.

Categories: Politics, Argentina.

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