President Jorge Videla of Argentina met foreign journalists in Buenos Aires the day after Argentina's victory in the World Cup.
President Jorge Videla of Argentina met foreign journalists in Buenos Aires the day after Argentina's victory in the World Cup. Most of the 5,000 journalists who have been in Argentina covering the football have also been looking at the social and political life of the country. President Videla has in the past been uncompromising in his refusal to reply to allegations from outside Argentina that human rights were being violated by the military government. He said he saw the staging of the World Cup in Argentina as an opportunity to tell the world about progress made in the two-and-a-half years since the junta took power.
SYNOPSIS: As head of Argentina's military junta, President Videla spoke in an informal atmosphere to foreign newsmen who had spent three weeks covering the World Cup matches. To some degree they were also exposed to the changes that have occurred since Argentina's military leaders seized power from Maria Peron. At that time the junta pledged to end the nations' economic chaos, Congress was dissolved and political parties and trade unions suspended. In March 1976, army commander General Videla and his Navy and Air Force counterparts installed themselves as the governing junta. At the end of July this year the general is intending to retire as the Commander in Chief of the army and become civilian President for a further three years.
During his news conference President Videla said "When we took over the functions of Government, we set two fundamental targets, to bring order to a country in disarray and to pacify a country under aggression". There had been, he said, a situation where an absolute vacuum of power had brought about social indiscipline, and a collapse in the management of the Argentine economy which put the country into bankruptcy. He added that there had been "aggressive groups" who through terrorism and intimidation had aimed to totally change traditional lifestyles and had helped create and take advantage of this vacuum. "And today", he said, "after two and a half years, Argentina could look the world in the eye as a country that got back on its feet through the efforts of all Argentines. Having got on its feet" he concluded, it was now moving towards the completion of its final objectives. General Videla thanked the journalists for what they have done to make what he called this "Argentine reality known to the world."
Outside, football enthusiasts continued to celebrate Argentina's Sunday (25 June) victory over Holland in the World Cup final.
President Videla answered journalists' questions before leaving the news conference. He said that the aim of the Argentine government was "to move towards a genuine representative democracy, but after only two-and-a-half years it is too early yet". A small crowd in the street below chanted "Argentina"..... and thank you, thank you."