Hours before undergoing surgery Argentine President Cristina Fernandez purged 36 members of the military brass in the wake of the recent dismissal of the Navy commander amid a domestic-spying scandal.
On Monday the Argentine government announced in the official gazette that the Chief of Staff Operations commanders Jorge Tellado, was retiring and would be replaced by Brig. Gen. Humberto Claudio Trisano.
On Tuesday it was announced that 12 army generals, 10 air force brigadiers and 13 rear admirals and vice admirals had also been ordered into early retirement.
News of the purge came a few days after Cristina Fernandez presided over the promotion ceremony for officers named to senior posts and a day before she went to hospital for thyroid cancer surgery and treatment.
The head of Argentina’s Navy, Admiral Jorge Godoy, was dismissed last month after being criminally charged in connection with the service’s espionage operation targeting politicians, civic activists and human rights organizations.
The investigation into domestic spying by the Navy date back to 2006 and was spurred by a criminal complaint presented by the Centre for Legal and Social Studies think-tank and a young seaman who had refused to take part in the illegal espionage.
An intelligence unit at Almirante Marcos Zar naval base in south Argentine was found to have a file on then-President Nestor Kirchner detailing his political activities as far back as the 1970s.
The revelations about the spying coincided with a push – backed by then president Kirchner – to bring to justice at least some of the perpetrators of kidnapping, torture and murder during the 1976-1983 military regime and allegedly responsible for the killings and disappearances of thousands.
The new Navy commander Rear admiral Carlos Alberto Paz is an expert in communications, solicitor with two graduate specializations and with a PhD in Philosophy. Paz is a Malvinas war veteran although he never set foot in the Islands since he was head of communications for the Navy’s air wing from the continent.
Admiral Godoy was eight years in the post and became famous for publicly admitting and apologizing in March 2004 for the Argentine Navy’s role and responsibility in killings, disappearances and torture during the military regime. He also accepted that the notorious Navy’s Mechanical School and one of the major torture centres be converted into a Memory Museum and Space.
Cristina Fernandez however confirmed in their posts Armed Forces Chief of Staff Brigadier General Jorge Chevalier; Army commander Lt General Luis Alberto Pozzi and Air Force chief Brigadier General Normando Costantino.