Journalist threatened by military officers


Roger Rodríguez, a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting on human rights abuses perpetrated during Uruguay’s dictatorship, was virtually threatened by military officers who posted his private information on the Internet.


Just days before, Rodríguez, a Sirel contributor, had published an article on the Uruguayan weekly magazine Caras y Caretas in which he investigated the emergence of a Facebook group formed by supporters of Foro Libertad y Concordia (Liberty and Concord Forum), an association that claims to represent hundreds of retired military officers who could be summoned to appear in court on criminal charges of torture, kidnapping, enforced disappearance, and murder committed during the seventies and eighties.


In his article, entitled “La ofensiva de los indagables” (roughly Suspects on the Offensive), Rodríguez reported on the makeup of this support group and its national and international political connections.

The military officers responded by posting all of Rodríguez’ personal information on the Internet, including his identity card number, his home telephone number, the names of his parents, and a detailed route to his house.


The military officers responded by posting on the Internet all of Rodríguez’ personal information, including his identity card number, his home telephone number, the names of his parents and his home address. There was even an online exchange between members of the group regarding the exact location of Rodríguez’ house and detailed directions on how to find it and a map.  


“We did exactly the same thing he does when he talks about military officers and discloses our addresses and names. We wanted to inform our comrades in arms; we’re simply sharing information about a public figure. In no way was this a threat; there was no intimidating tone,” Colonel (R) Héctor Marcos Varela González, one of the officers who participated in the Facebook exchange said. “Somebody may want to go to his house and ask him something, since he’s such an inquisitive man…”, he said sarcastically.


Varela González, a former cavalry officer, had an active involvement in the dictatorship and is currently a member of the Maldonado Chapter of the Retired Armed Force Officers Center, which also includes such former repressive officers as José Baudean and Eduardo Ferro, both implicated in kidnappings and torture in Uruguay and abroad.  


All of the human rights organizations expressed their solidarity with Rodríguez, as did the Uruguayan Press Association, which reported the threats to the Interior Ministry.



From Montevideo, Daniel Gatti
February 10, 2011



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