Paraguay: two years after the murder of Argentine girls

Lilian Mariana and Maria Carmen Villalba

Everything had been perfectly planned for the dossier, but they had missed one important detail: the women killed were not young, not even teenagers, neither guerrillas nor members of a “criminal group”: they were two 11-year-old girls called Lilian Mariana and Maria Carmen Villalbalived in Puerto Rico (Missiones), where they studied, had good grades and played with their little brothers, sisters and cousins, in a country life that, although sometimes difficult, they traveled with joy.

Everything was normal, but the girls insisted on meeting their Paraguayan parents, members of the Paraguayan People’s Army (PPA). This militant group is an offshoot of the peasant-based Partido Patria Libre (PPL) of northern Paraguay.

Their mothers had their doubts, but decided to carry out the girls’ wishes, believing that the right thing was the right of their roots. They never imagined the cruelty to which the soldiers of the Joint Task Force (FTC) would subject those two girls who were stranded in Paraguay due to the restrictions caused by the Covid pandemic.

From Argentina, the relatives assure that the girls were not killed “in battle”, as the official version states. It is fictional to think that 11-year-old developing girls can carry a heavy battle rifle and shoot soldiers. But as the truth always insists on coming out, two young women from the same contingent survived the operation and denied the military version in their statement to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Beyond the voice of the witnesses, the fact itself overflows with carelessness. FTC troopers say they didn’t film the process because their cameras “were malfunctioning.” It’s hard to believe that today everyone can shoot with a cell phone, and we’re talking about an army with a millionaire budget.

But that excuse is familiar to those who followed the Curuguaty case in 2012, which involved the extermination of police and villagers in an irregular operation that was used to quickly oust Fernando Lugo, the first “non-Colorado” president since Stroessner’s fall.

But even more serious is the destruction of the girls’ clothes and all evidence of the alleged confrontation based on a supposed “Covid protocol” that never existed. The girls posed in clean, pressed, camouflage uniforms; without a proper autopsy, they were quickly buried.

There was an investigator who “miscalculated” the ages of the bodies, claiming they were youths over 17, a version denied through documentation released hours later. Another expert then had to come forward to correct the “mistake”, but the only progress in this second autopsy was to confirm the data that was already publicly known: they were girls.

A third is missing

November 30 was the last time Carmen Elizabeth Oviedo Villalba, better known as Licita, was heard from. She was then 14 years old and was part of the contingent that was visiting Concepción (Paraguay) at that time. Lichita was wounded during the operation that killed her cousins ​​Lilian Mariana and Maria Carmen Villalba.

Although he managed to survive and escape with his twin sister, his teenage cousin, and his aunt Laura, he had great difficulty moving due to the gunshot wounds he sustained. Trying to get water and food, the group split up and then lost Lichita, who remains missing to this day, raising a cloak of suspicion that once again points to the army.

It is clear that the military will not seek to preserve the young woman’s life, given her knowledge of the events of September 2, but also her background: she is the daughter of Carmen Villalba, the most demonized woman in Paraguay, a guerrilla from EPP, which She has been imprisoned for almost two decades, although her sentence has been more than served.

Finally, Laura Villalba, mother of the girl María Carmen Villalba (murdered), aunt of Lichita (missing) and Mariana Villalba (murdered), was arrested on December 23, 2020, while desperately searching for her niece. Laura is the only one accused and imprisoned. For several months, she was alone, locked up and imprisoned in a men’s military barracks, subjected to psychological torture. Due to pressure from social organizations, mainly Argentine, last year she was transferred to a regular women’s prison in Encarnación.

The alleged judicial investigation accuses Laura Villalba of “lack of duty of care”, “domestic violence” and “criminal association”, a version reinforced by the Paraguayan media, which called her “the nurse of the EPP”. Laura is a two-time nurse, having studied in Paraguay and Argentina.

She has lived in Misiones for ten years and the only thing she has done all her life is care and work. But now she faces a trial where she could be sentenced to between thirty and forty years. If Laura is released, the Paraguayan state will have to account, in an updated official version, who killed the girls, who disappeared Licita, who fired, who ordered and who destroyed the evidence.

The Argentine government

This fact is the main responsibility of Mario Abdo Benitez’s government, which from the beginning, together with low-profile judicial officials such as Attorney General Sandra Quiñones, promised to fight against “organized crime”. This means, in other words, suppressing any form of struggle or social organization that rebels against the unjust system that subjects the majority of the country to want and poverty.

However, to build legitimacy to their actions, a show machine is needed. This explains the photo in camouflage uniform that Abdo takes on the scene, marking the double infanticide with the unfortunate phrase “successful operation”.

The Argentine government of Alberto Fernández quickly called for an investigation into the events, repeated the request several times and offered political asylum to the family, which includes the elderly, adults, teenagers and mainly children. For their part, dozens of social organizations that support the claim are categorical in a letter from early 2021: “You cannot do business with a child-killing state.”

Ignoring this noise and going against the grain of what his own government had done before, in May of this year Fernandez engaged with Mario Abdo in a proselytizing act of handing over houses. The two were filmed and photographed hugging. Nobody talked about the beaten girls and Lichita. Silence and impunity shook hands again.

The family’s request is fair and specific: an impartial investigation and punishment of those responsible for the girls’ deaths. For this purpose, the entry of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF), recognized in Latin America and the world for its trajectory in the reconstruction of evidence of crimes against humanity, is requested.

But no one is surprised by the answers: the Paraguayan state does not allow it and denies the Villalba family the status of victims.

*Published in Zoom Magazine

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.