What is the Trelew massacre? – Know the causes and consequences of the Trelew massacre
The Trelew Massacre it was a tragic event occurred in the prison of the city of Trelew, Argentina, where a group of political inmates tried to escape and were brutally repressed by the security forces of the military government.
In this article we will talk about the Trelew Massacre and we will answer questions such as: What is its history? How it happened? What were its causes? and many more questions, stay with us!
What did the Trelew massacre consist of?
The fact took place in the Trelew city jail, where a circle of prisoners belonging to the guerrilla organization Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP) were detained, in addition to the Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores (PTR) and the faction of the Montoneros. On August 15, 1972, a group of 25 political inmates escaped from the Rawson prison, in the same province of Chubut, but they were captured three days later in a house on the outskirts of the city.
The detainees were taken to the Trelew military base, where they were subjected to summary judgment and they were sentenced to death. However, instead of being executed, they were transferred to the Trelew prison for their subsequent trip to another prison.
On August 22, 1972, a group of soldiers entered the Trelew correctional facility and opened fire on the prisoners, killing 16 of them and wounding several more. The military claimed that the detainees tried to take over the jail and that they had responded with fire to defend themselves. However, subsequent investigations showed that it was a premeditated and planned massacre.
This was one of the bloodiest episodes of the political repression carried out by the military government of Argentina in the 1970s and 1980s, led for the most part by Alejandro Agustín Lanusse. It became a symbol of state violence and terrorism at the time. In addition, it has been remembered in the nation’s history as a tragic event that must never be repeated.
How did the Trelew massacre happen?
It happened because a group of political prisoners, mostly members of the guerrilla organization Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP), They were arrested after escaping from Rawson jail, in the same province.
The detainees arrived at the Trelew military base, where they underwent a trial and they were sentenced to death. However, instead of being executed, they were transferred back to the Trelew prison for later transfer to another prison.
In the early morning of August 22, 1972, a group of soldiers began shooting at political prisoners that they were there. In total, 16 detainees died, while another 10 managed to survive the attack.
According to testimonies from survivors, the military They opened fire indiscriminately. This regardless of whether the prisoners were unarmed or did not represent an immediate threat. After the event, the survivors had a trial and were sent to different prisons in the country.
What is the story of the Trelew massacre?
It was a tragic event that occurred in the early morning of August 22, 1972 in the city of Trelew, in the province of Chubut, Argentina. At that time, a circle of political prisoners, mostly members of the Guerrilla organization of the People’s Revolutionary Army (PTR-ERP), were arrested after escaping from the Rawson prison, in the same province of Chubut.
These inmates arrived at the Trelew military base, where they were subjected to a summary trial and sentenced to death.
However, instead of being executed, they were assigned to the Trelew prison for later transfer to another prison. It was there that the massacre occurred. At dawn, a group of soldiers entered and opened fire on the prisoners. Total, 16 prisoners died while another 10 managed to survive the attack.
The military claimed that the prisoners tried to take over the jail and that they had responded with fire to defend themselves. However, investigations showed that this was not true.
the massacre generated commotion in the social field of Argentina, It was considered an event of violence and political repression, carried out by the military government. This event became a symbol of state aggression and terrorism that characterized the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina between 1976 and 1983.
What are the causes of the Trelew massacre?
It originated in the context of the repression carried out by the dictatorship that ruled Argentina at the time. This government had reached power in 1976 through a coup and sought to eliminate armed groups and left-wing political militants that it considered a threat to national security.
In the case of the Trelew Massacre, occurred after the escape of a group of political prisoners. But they were captured again and transferred to the Trelew military base to be tried and sentenced.
The summary judgment that took place it was considered illegal and arbitrary by the international community, as the detainees were denied the right to a fair trial and sentenced to death without any concrete evidence. After the conviction, the prisoners arrived at the Trelew correctional facility.
It was in the Trelew prison where the massacre took place. A group of soldiers opened fire on the inmates, killing 16 and injuring several. The military claimed that the prisoners had tried to take over the jail, for which they had responded with fire to defend themselves. However, the testimonies of the survivors and the investigations showed that it was a planned act.
What consequences did the Trelew massacre leave?
It had a number of repercussions. significant in the Argentine society of the time and in the history of the country in general. Some of the most important consequences are the following:
- Greatest international repudiation: The massacre generated great indignation and repudiation in the international community. Since they saw this fact as an example of the violation of human rights and State terrorism that characterized the Argentine military dictatorship. This increased international pressure on the military government and contributed to the regime’s negative image abroad.
- Increased resistance and the fight against the dictatorship: It also had an important effect on the dispute against the military regime in Argentina. Many sectors of society in cities like Buenos Aires, mobilized against political repression and they joined the fight against the dictatorship, which led to an increase in resistance and opposition to the regime.
- Strengthening the political identity of the left: The Trelew Massacre had an impact on the ideology of the left in Argentina. Many leftist militants felt identified with the political prisoners who died in the massacre. This strengthened their commitment to the fight against the dictatorship and their political identity as leftist militants.
- Changes in the fighting strategy of the armed groups: The Trelew Massacre also had an effect on the fighting method of the armed groups in Argentina. Many of them abandoned the dispute and they opted for political struggle and peaceful resistance, since they realized that fighting in this way was difficult to maintain and did not have a positive impact on Argentine society.
Survivors of the Trelew massacre
The survivors of the event were the political prisoners who managed to survive the act that occurred in jail. There were ten in all Their story and testimonies became essential to learn the truth about what happened in the correctional facility that night.
After the act, they were taken to different prisons and they were subjected to strong repression and torture by the government. However, despite the difficulties, they continued to fight and denounce the human rights violations that were being committed. Some of the survivors were:
- Rubén Bonifacio Haidar: He was one of the survivors and He managed to escape from prison. Haidar was recaptured and subjected to torture and inhuman treatment in different prisons in the country. He was released in 1979 thanks to international pressure.
- María Antonia Berger: She also survived the massacre and She was transferred to different prisons in the country. She was released in 1973 thanks to the amnesty granted by the de facto government.
- Alejandro Héctor Ulla: He survived the massacre and was taken to different prisons in the country. He was released in 1979 thanks to international pressure.
These survivors they are considered heroes and symbols of resistance against the dictatorship in Argentina. His testimony and his fight have been essential to discover the truth about the crimes committed during the dictatorship and to achieve justice and reparation for the victims and their families. In addition, then Isabel Perón opened the case so that the massacre will be criminally investigated.
Names and most important characters in the Trelew massacre
Being a tragic and unfortunate event in Argentine history, It had a great impact on the country’s society and politics. Among the most important names and characters related to the massacre, we can mention the following:
- Political prisoners: The detainees who died in the Trelew Massacre were six in total: Carlos Astudillo, Rubén Pedro Bonnet, Alberto Carlos Del Rey, Eduardo Alberto Duhalde, Clarisa Rosa Lea Place and Ana María Villarreal. There were also ten survivors, who were taken to other prisons and subjected to repression and torture.
- Security forces: Those responsible for the Trelew Massacre they were effective of the protection control of the military government, who entered the jail and opened fire on the political prisoners. Among them were Navy and Army officers, such as Luis Emilio Sosa, Roberto Guillermo Bravo, Carlos Marandino, Carlos Alberto González and Jorge Enrique Bautista.
- Jorge Ricardo Masetti: This Argentine journalist, founder of the Latin American News Agency Prensa Latina, was one of the political prisoners who were in the Trelew correctional facility at the time of the massacre. Masetti managed to escape from jail along with other survivors and his testimony was essential to learn the details of what happened that night.
- María Angélica Sabelli: This lawyer and human rights defender was one of the first to arrive at the Trelew prison after the massacre. Sabelli worked to denounce the violation of human rights during the dictatorship and achieve the release of political prisoners.
- Isabel Perón: The then president of Argentina, ordered the creation of an investigative commission to clarify the facts of the Trelew massacre. However, his government fell due to a military coup in March 1976 and the investigation was cut short until democracy was restored in 1983.