Tuesday, May 30, 2023

The Two Faces of Julio Sirino: Television Columnist and Secret Agent of Battalion 601

The two men were drinking coffee in a sweet shop in Palermo. One of them attracted the attention of customers. It was Horacio García Belsons, a journalist on cable channels, but better known as the brother of the ill-fated María Marta. Secondly, while not enjoying such popularity, he had a certain prestige in small circles of local authority due to his status as an expert on defense and security matters. His name: Julio Alberto Sirino.

That same night – it was October 30, 2008 – the two participated in the program “De Frente”, hosted by a certain Malu Kikuchi on the Telmax signal. There he talked about the elections to be held in the United States next Tuesday. In this regard, Cirino was eloquent:

North Americans know that if they vote for black, it will be the beginning of a historic tragedy.

“Black” was Barack Obama.

The host-mother of Carlos Kikuchi, who years later would be one of Javier Mili’s “inventors” as a liberal, assimilated the phrase with an accepted rictus.

Now, having ordered another round of coffee, Sirino remained engrossed in the same subject and García Belsanse was delighted with his praise. Then, when they said goodbye, they arranged to see each other the following week.

However, unforeseen circumstances prevented this: on the evening of November 6, a man with a chubby face and serious expression was coming out of a gym at 1700 Peyredon Avenue in shorts and a sweatshirt, when they crossed his path. Went. With federal police credentials.

That Thursday he went to Marcos Paz prison.

Nuts and bolts

Nearly three decades ago, on the afternoon of August 7, 1979, William Hallman, political advisor to the US embassy in Buenos Aires, and James Blystone, the regional security officer, had a secret meeting with an agent of that embassy’s liaison to the military. Intelligence Battalion 601. His coverage nickname: “Jorge Contreras.” The topic discussed on that occasion was the situation leading to the so-called “anti-subversive struggle”. Chinese and Russian.

He then recognized that the repressive apparatus of military rule was “a very complex structure, made up of secretive and overlapping institutions.” He calculated that 80 percent of the secret centers had stopped functioning in those days. And he predicted that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) – which will visit the country in a month to verify the complaints – “would find no more than blank walls, as they had been remodeled so that they could not be identified”. Can’t go.” He assured that “the number of disappearances declined sharply since 1978”, although he did not hesitate to admit “operations without permission or better knowledge”.

At this point, he made an explanation: “If the wanted person has been kidnapped, it is publicized; But if they bring a housewife or someone’s aunt, she refuses. And he confirmed: “Those who proved that they had nothing to do with the sabotage were also executed, because releasing them meant that they could identify the interrogators.”

He justified that conduct with an impromptu argument: “Process is more important than the individual, and even the innocent must be sacrificed to prevent the system from being jeopardized.” And his auction was: “Some prisoners are hanged even after cooperating. But others are bleached.”

– How long can the process last? Holman wanted to know.

The repressor’s response was:

“It sounds like you’re asking me how long a piece of thread is.”

Based on their statements, Hollman and Blystone sent a report to Washington titled “Nuts and Bolts of State Repression of Terrorism”.

The document was declassified by the State Department in the late 90s. In June 2008, it was analyzed by a research team from the National Memory Archive (ANM), which is part of the National Human Rights Secretariat. Its members then compared the file of the agent who called himself “Contreras”, thus discovering that it was Sirino.

The day after his arrest, the Secretary of Human Rights, Eduardo Luis Duhalde, gave some information about him. “Cirino was involved in the disappearances. He was no stranger to the Condor Plan or the repressive missions of the Argentine military in Central America.

The henchmen were arrested by order of federal judge Ariel Lijo in the framework of case 6,589, known as the “counteroffensive”, referring to the kidnapping and execution of Montoneros militants from exile.

The originality of his capture was that Sirino was not mentioned in any criminal case or previous complaint. In contrast, its character as a cadre of state terrorism was a secret kept under lock and key. So, of course, he was not a fugitive and was happily using his true identity. The boy’s secret history seemed well preserved.

double play

Born on July 4, 1950, he was a student of Colegio La Salle. Around that time he began frequenting Catholic groups associated with the far-right priest Julio Meanville. He then studied at the Universidad del Salvador, where he obtained a degree in history.

It was 1974, and his personal relationship with Alberto Otalgano, the famous auditor of the University of Buenos Aires – who posed for photographers giving the fascist salute – opened the doors to the Faculty of Law for him as an assistant to a chair. , In 1976 he published the book “Argentina Against the Marxist War”, where he exposed some subtleties such as “fighting the destroyers with executions in situ”.

In early 1977, with a recommendation signed by a lieutenant colonel named Menchaca, he was able to join Battalion 601 as a PCI (Civilian Intelligence Personnel). There his rise was meteoric.

It was General Carlos Alberto Martínez, head of Intelligence Headquarters II, who signed off on his appointment. This, apparently, did not prevent him from starting his career from the bottom. In fact – according to his file – he had a “Category 14” and belonged to “Cuadro Si Subcuadro C-2”, something like the last big apricot in the jar.

However, it did not take long for the 27-year-old’s fiery and brash nature to astonish his superiors; Particularly fearful was Lieutenant Colonel Jorge Arias Duval, who was in command of the so-called Central de Réunion. This structure was something like the nervous system of Battalion 601 and its men constituted the elite of military intelligence.
Prior to being put in charge of GT7, Sirino was integrated there as a university advisor, operating on student, activist and religious sectors – as stated in his file.

In parallel with his repressive works, he continued to teach at UBA, the University of Mar del Plata and the University of Belgrano. But in addition to teaching, he spied on the students—it is already known that this was one of GT7’s functions—and, if one of his students was kidnapped, he participated in the interrogation. In this sense, a document contributed to the case indicates his role in the disappearance of at least six students.

Unlike most of his peers, the return to democracy did not deprive him of having a very high profile. Conferences, master classes and visits to TV programs were the fuel of his daily schedule.

In 1989 he was hired at SIDE by his new boss, Juan Bautista Yoffre. And in 1993 he had the pleasure of reaching a diplomatic rank: First Secretary of the Argentine Embassy in Washington at the express request of Ambassador Raúl Granillo Ocampo. He lived in that city till 1998.

After the attacks on the Twin Towers, he toured the world as an expert on security and terrorism. He later wrote a book on “revolutionary populism” in Latin America and lectured on various topics, holding the titles of journalist, historian, president of the “Alexis de Tocqueville” Center for Hemispheric Studies, and director of the Notaire press agency. set up with his friend Yofre.

In 2003, he participated in a symposium on regional security organized by the Southern Command and the Inter-American Defense Board. At that time he became an advisor to the General Staff of the Navy. At the same time, his column could be heard on the aforementioned Kikuchi’s radio program, called “La Caja de Pandora”. This could be the title of his biography.

On that distant Thursday night, Thursday, November 6, 2008, when a policeman handcuffed him, he simply muttered:

-There must be a mistake.

But he didn’t get any answer. Then a guard took him to find his story.

In 2013 he was sentenced to six years in prison. Now he is free again.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com/
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