May 25, 2019
Latest News

Stark, cryptic tombstone marks late Argentine dictator's final resting place

 The tombstone under which the body of late Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla lies in a cemetery on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Feb. 27, 2019. EFE/AITOR DE ITURRIA

The tombstone under which the body of late Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla lies in a cemetery on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Feb. 27, 2019. EFE/AITOR DE ITURRIA

Buenos Aires, Mar 14 (efe-epa).- Underneath a stark, flowerless tombstone that bears only the cryptic words "Ababo Yalan" at a cemetery on the outskirts of the Argentine capital lie the mortal remains of a former dictator.

The final resting place of Jorge Rafael Videla, ruler of Argentina from 1976-81, who came to power on the back of a military uprising, is underneath a grave stone that is unremarkable to anyone passing through the Pilar Memorial Cemetery, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of Buenos Aires.

Videla, who had been a Lieutenant General in Argentina's army, was found dead in the bathtub of his jail cell at Marcos Paz prison on May 17, 2013.

His family had wanted to bury him in a private pantheon in the city of Mercedes, where he was born, some 100 km west of the capital, but protests by residents and activists saw to it that he was never buried there.

"They opposed it (Videla's burial) in Mercedes and didn't allow him to come to the cemetery," Taty Almeida, a member of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo association of mothers of disappeared children during the military dictatorship.

"The family had to take him away," she recalled.

A former lawyer for the family, Adolfo Casabal, said that faced with not being able to bury him in Mercedes, it was decided that his body would be taken to Pilar in secret.

"They managed to get a tomb in the Memorial (Cemetery), it was an intimate family burial," Casabal said. "It was very complicated because there's a question of revenge against the military."

Videla was prosecuted for human rights abuses and crimes against humanity that took place under his dictatorship, including kidnappings, forced disappearances, as well as the widespread torture and extrajudicial murder of opponents and their families in illegal detention centers.

He was also convicted of the theft of many babies born during the captivity of their mothers at the detention camps and passing them on for unlawful adoption by associates of the regime.

Back in 2015, a journalist for Argentine daily Clarín, Enrique de la Hoz, revealed in an article the exact location of Videla's mortal remains: plot T1.15.68, under a tombstone inscribed with the words "Familia Olmos" ("Olmos Family").

According to De la Hoz, the plot belonged to Florencio Olmos, a friend of the dictator who had close links to Videla's family.

On the day of Videla's death, Olmos and his wife had published an obituary in daily La Nación.

Sources from the cemetery confirmed to EFE that the remains of both Videla and his son, Alejandro Eugenio, lie at the location revealed by De la Hoz, although since Apr. 2016 the plot has belonged to his widow, Alicia Raquel Hartridge.

The Memorial Cemetery itself is a large park that is well-maintained. All the tombstones are rectangular and made out of granite, lying flat on the ground.

Most of them bear a cross on the left-hand side, the Spanish acronym "QEPD" for rest in peace (RIP) at the top and the name of the deceased person in the middle.

The edges of the tombstone marking Videla's remains are obscured by grass, and the stone no longer bears the words "Familia Olmos," but rather "Abayo Yalan," all in capital letters.

Videla's widow, Alicia Raquel Hartridge, 91, told EFE she no longer visited her late husband's grave and did not know the exact location of where he is buried.

"I know he's at Pilar, but I don't know where," she told EFE, her voice trembling at the other end of the telephone. "There was a problem with a newspaper and my children changed the tomb."

They're of the opinion that people don't visit cemeteries anymore. I go to mass, I pray for him every night."

She said she did not mind not knowing the exact location of her late husband's final resting place. "It doesn't matter to me, because if you go there all you'll be able to see is a bit of grass. I don't see anything. We had a vault and we couldn't put (him) there. I was used to that, I'm not used to this."

Hartridge said she did not know what the inscription on the tombstone meant and that she thought only her children knew its significance.

She said they had changed their father's tomb and agreed not to give away the exact location.

However, the cemetery's database contradicts that any move took place, its records show the dictator has remained in plot T1.15.68 since his burial on May 23, 2013.

By Alberto Ortiz y Aitor de Iturria

News history
Kenya's High Court upholds law criminalizing same-sex relations

Nairobi, May 24 (efe-epa).- Kenya's High Court on Friday declined to decriminalize same-sex relations, which can carry a prison sentence of up to 14 years,...

Global climate change school strikes hit record number

Stockholm, May 24 (efe-epa).- Thousands of schoolchildren around the world walked out of their classrooms on Friday in what organizers say were the biggest...

Senior cleric among three killed in Kabul mosque explosion

Kabul, May 24 (efe-epa).- A bomb blast inside a mosque in the Afghan capital on Friday killed three people, including a prominent religious scholar who was...

Ethnic minorities represented for 1st time in Thai parliament with Hmong MP

By Carlos Sardiña Galache

Filipino natives forced out of their ancestral lands by Chinese capital

By Sara Gómez Armas

Taiwan holds Asia's first same-sex marriages

Taipei, May 24 (efe-epa).- Around 20 same-sex couples on Friday registered their marriage officially at the Household Registration Office in Taipei, the...

US hospital ship to assist 11 countries in response to Venezuelan crisis

Miami, USA, May 23 (efe-epa).- A United States Navy hospital ship will provide medical assistance to 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries in response...

Voice of female Mesaharati calls out in Cairo each dawn of Ramadan

By Carles Grau Sivera

Botswana lifts elephant hunting ban

Johannesburg, May 23 (efe-epa).- Botswana, the country with the largest population of elephants in the world, has lifted a ban on hunting these animals...

Thousands of Jews celebrate Lag BaOmer festival with music, bonfires

Mount Meron, Israel, May 22 (efe-epa).- With songs, dances and bonfires nearly half a million Jews on Wednesday marked the celebration of Lag BaOmer on...

Massive seaweed influx in Cancun's hotel zone

Cancun, Mexico, May 22 (efe-epa).- The hotel zone along the beaches in the Mexican resort city of Cancun on Wednesday experienced a massive influx of...

Geneva, May 22 (efe-epa).- Venezuela's health minister said here Wednesday that economic sanctions imposed by Washington are to blame for shortages of...

Remains of Jewish Holocaust victims reburied in Belarus

Brest (Belarus), May 22 (efe-epa).- Human remains believed to have belonged to 1,214 Jewish victims of the Holocaust were reburied in a cemetery in...

WHO to reduce snakebite mortality rate, health crisis, by half with new plan

By Clea House

Afghan amputee boy dreams a better future by becoming a doctor

Baber Khan Sahel

Lack of diverse global diet takes toll on biodiversity

By Belén Delgado

Internal review reveals sexual assault cases in New Zealand parliament

Sydney, Australia, May 22 (efe-epa).- The New Zealand parliament on Wednesday admitted that at least three cases of serious sexual assault had taken place...

Hundreds protest against anti-abortion laws at US Supreme Court

Washington, May 21 (efe-epa).- Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday in front of the US Supreme Court to protest against the laws passed this year banning...

Plastic waste being made into ecologically friendly houses in western Mexico

By Mariana Gonzalez

Mexican scientist works to find mysterious fish using DNA

By Zoilo Carrillo

Brazil's Candomble religion battles rising intolerance

By Maria Angalica Troncoso

Dr. AI comes to aid of China’s ailing healthcare

By Paula Escalada Medrano

Abortion remains a stigma for South Korean women despite decriminalization

By Andres Sanchez Braun

Australian voters turned their backs on the threat of climate change

By Rocío Otoya

I agree Welcome to We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.