The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 65/209 declares August 30th the International Day of the Disappeared.
Yet for the past century, Latin America has been no foreigner to forced disappearances on any day.
Forced disappearances are typically used as a mechanism to instill terror into citizens during crisis eras.
The resulting sensations of insecurity generated by this practice are not limited to close relatives of the disappeared, but also the community and country.
Latin America’s forced disappearances – which were once largely a product of dictatorships – are today observed in complex situations of internal conflict, particularly when repressing economic and political opponents.
Several prominent cases of forced disappearances – past and present – in Latin America include:
History: Operation Condor
Operation Condor – or Plan Condor – were large scale tactics executed by the dictatorships of southern South America – Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia – and engineered by the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency and allies.
Conducted between the late 1950s and early 1990s, this coordination resulted in the mass monitoring, surveillance, false flag terrorism, puppet statery, detention, interrogation with psycho-physical constraints, murder and disappearance of persons considered “subversive” to the established order, contrary to political or ideological opposite thought, or otherwise not compatible with the installed authories’ interests.
Latin America has undergone several Operation Condor-era dictatorships which heavily practiced forced disappearances, including:
With Dictators Jorge Rafael Videla and later Jorge Bignone in power, Argentina plunged into what is locally termed the “Dirty War”.
Official figures estimate 8,961 dead or missing, however the more widely accepted figure is 30,000, confirms the United Nations and independent human rights organizations.
20th century Argentina has been a recently popular forced disappearance case study, becoming known for its famous missing children cases and violent disposal tactics.
Dictator Hugo Banzer (1971-1978), returned to government as President by the far right-wing Nationalist Democratic Alliance from 1997 to 2001. He died in 2002.
200 disappearances have been recorded, but the total number of victims remains unknown. The majority were protesters and indigenous laborers.
Dictator Ernesto Geisel oversaw 351 forced disappearances and thousands of torture cases, especially that of protesters, academics and guerillas (including currently suspended President Dilma Rousseff).
Under Dictator Augusto Pinochet, Chile became the nerve center of Operation Condor, with approximately 3,197 known missing victims.
There were 40,000 imprisoned, jailed and/or murdered for allegations of governmental non-compliance.
– Ecuador and Peru:
Ecuador and Peru joined Operation Condor in 1978, when ultraconservative sectors of the Armed Forces shifted to progressive military factions.
The number of victims remains unknown.
Alfredo Stroessner’s 35-year long dictatorship engineered 3 million disappeared, imprisoned or/and dead, according to recently uncovered classified material.
50% of the population expatriated during this era.
With President Juan Maria Bordaberry and his military junta oversight in power during the 1970s, 288 missing or dead cases have been recorded.
Central American Civil Wars aka Banana Republic Conflicts II
In a Central American contribution to the Cold War, the tactics to stop ideological rivals via forced disappearances was only until recently admitted by its executors.
The practice was consolidated in 1966 in Guatemala as an experiment by the US doctrine of national security.
Executed by local military, paramilitary, vigilantes and multinational businesses, Central American destabilization semi-successfully repressed leftist guerillas and governments supported by Cuba and the then Soviet Union, thus guarding US and US-ally interests.
Forced disappearances as a technique spread through the rest of Central America and the Caribbean and was refined between the 1960s and 1990s in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and social conflicts in Mexico, according to Amnesty International.
From the 70,000 estimated disappearances between 1966 and 1981 in the region, the figure rose to 90,000 before the Cold War officially ended.
Guatemala is the modern Latin American country with the largest number of forced disappearances victims.
According to the Historical Clarification Commission of Guatemala, over 45,000 people disappeared during the internal armed conflict. Due to the Drug War and other related conflicts, the number keeps rising.
Investigations conducted by the United Nations assess that such forced disappearances of people in Guatemala was historically a systematic practice.
Victims include peasants, farmers, community heads, students, academics, political leaders, religious figures and minors.
The murder of 6 students and the disappearance of 43 in Ayozinapa, Mexico, shook a populous numbed by daily violence.
Over 40,000 deaths and thousands of disappearances have been recorded since the war against the drug cartels resumed in 2006.
Forced disappearances also continue to grow as a global problem.