Argentine Dictator Videla Dies in Prison

Ran one of the bloodiest military governments in South America

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted May 17, 2013 4:13 PM CDT

(Newser) – Former dictator Jorge Rafael Videla, who took power over Argentina in a 1976 coup and led a military junta that killed thousands of his fellow citizens in a dirty war to eliminate so-called "subversives," died quietly in his sleep today while serving life in prison for crimes against humanity. He was 87. Videla ran one of the bloodiest military governments during South America's era of dictatorships, and later sought to take full responsibility for kidnappings, tortures, deaths and disappearances when he was tried again and again for these crimes in recent years. He said he knew about everything that happened under his rule because "I was above everyone."

Adolfo Perez Esquivel, who spent 28 months in prison during the dictatorship and won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work documenting Videla's crimes, said his death is no cause for celebration, and urged Argentina's justice system to keep investigating the dirty war era. "The death of Videla should not bring joy to anyone. We need to keep working for a better society, more just, more humane, so that all this horror doesn't ever happen, never again," Esquivel said.

In this June 1978 file photo, Gen. Jorge Rafael Videla talks to journalists at the Buenos Aires Government Palace, in Argentina.
In this June 1978 file photo, Gen. Jorge Rafael Videla talks to journalists at the Buenos Aires Government Palace, in Argentina.   (EDUARDO DI BAIA)
FILE - In this March 24, 1977 file photo, Gen. Jorge Rafael Videla is seen commemorating the first anniversary of the military coup in Asuncion, Argentina. The former Argentine dictator died of natural causes Friday, May 17, 2013, while serving life sentences at the  Marcos Paz prison for crimes against...
FILE - In this March 24, 1977 file photo, Gen. Jorge Rafael Videla is seen commemorating the first anniversary of the military coup in Asuncion, Argentina. The former Argentine dictator died of natural...   (EDUARDO DI BAIA)
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