Author Archives: Hillary Houston

Uki Goñi- An Inspiration to All Journalists

   by, Hillary Houston   

     Reporting the truth can mean life or death, but for a journalist, not reporting the truth means no life at all. Uki Goñi, world renowned journalist and author knows of this struggle all too well.  

     Recently, Goñi took the time to some shed light on what the real world of journalism is all about.

     Six journalism students, including myself, were able to interview Goñi over lunch in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Meeting with Goñi is a rare occasion for anyone, but for six journalism students from the University of Mississippi it was inspiration.

     Lunch began like any other, over gnocchi and coffee Goñi spoke of his work, his past battles and future endeavors. No one at the table could have ever predicted the magnitude of his testimony.

     He told of how he was born in Washington, D.C., but moved to Buenos Aires at the young age of 21. From there he worked for the Buenos Aires Herald. Most of his time at the Herald was occupied by trying to help report the mass amounts of information from the people affected by the Dirty War, a military dictatorship in Argentina from 1976-1983.

     The Dirty War was a military campaign carried out by the Argentine government that maintained its power by kidnapping out anybody who challenged their authority. He explained that during these troubling times, his life was at stake.  Those who opposed the government’s military campaign just “disappeared”.

     Goñi worked with the mothers of “disappeared” trying to help in any way possible without causing more harm to himself and others.

     Goñi had experiences with undercover government officers following, tapped phone calls and even death threats.

     Going through such chaos during the first few years of his career, was quite the test. He recalled being a young journalist, terrified for his life and his fellow colleagues.

      Luckily he survived to tell his story, but he still wonders what may have happened. Many of his friends, coworkers and informants were seen one day and then gone the next.

      “I regret not getting more involved with the disappeared,” Goñi said. “But if I had, I probably wouldn’t be here today.”

     Spending years writing for newspapers such as the Buenos Aires Herald and the New York Times, Goñi had quite the resume.

     After jeopardizing his life for several years work, Goñi traded one evil for another. His observations of what went on during the Dirty War fascinated him. He questioned how humans could do such things to each other and how something so terrible could be kept quiet for so long.

     With his knowledge of vile militant tactics and Argentine government, Goñi began to research the Argentine government’s aid in the escape of Nazi war criminals after WWII.

     “Can it be a coincidence of what happened in my country’s past that allowed so many war criminals to come here?” Goñi asked. He wanted to understand how something like the Dirty War and hiding of Nazis could have ever happened.

     Goñi’s worked for years trying to find the buried information both in Argentina and across the world. Many of sleepless nights and thousands of documents later he published his controversial book “The Real Odessa: Smuggling the Nazis to Perón’s Argentina.”

     His book gives details such as dates, names, sources and government documents of the escape of Nazi war criminals in to Argentina. Outing multiple illegal governmental operations, historical lies and even the Catholic Church is an adventure to say the least.

     “Considering the past and our struggles with the government, the Argentine people have slowly adapted the habitation of evil,” Goñi said. “Years ago, speaking out against the government meant life or death, so most people chose to not say anything.”

     Goñi was one of the first to break the silence. Through it all he damaged his health, broke a few rules, ruined a couple of relationships and fought many of lawsuits after all was said and done.

     To this day, Goñi is still criticized and attacked for his work. Rumors and speculations surround the truth behind the Dirty War and the Nazi hiding in Argentina.

     Goñi defends is work with facts. He explained that there will always be people who will disagree with what he has said, but the facts don’t and cannot lie.

     Goñi jokes about how a journalist’s life style is not easy an easy one. He advises to keep a sane mind by pursuing other leisure interests. For him, it is music.  

     Today, he plays with his band in local cult pubs around Buenos Aires, does freelance work for various medias, maintains his website and travels to speak to whoever is willing to listen and learn.



Los Madres de Plaza de Mayo

 by, Hillary Houston 

     The sun is shining as the icy breeze cuts to the heart, reminding the protesters of Plaza de Mayo of a much colder time in Buenos Aires.

Protestors paint white head scarves, or paῆuelos, with names and dates of the disappeared in an attempt to bring attention to their cause.

     Protestors march, wrapped in blankets clutching each other as they bear the burden of a haunting history. The voices of opposition come from the disturbing stories of mothers and grandmothers who long to see their missing family members.
     Argentine mothers whose children “disappeared” during the military dictatorship called the Dirty War, from 1976-1983, cry for answers and object to being forgotten.

     The Dirty War was a seven-year military campaign carried out by the Argentine government. The military government maintained its power for so long by wiping out anybody who challenged their authority.

     Both opponents of the government as wells as innocent people “disappeared” or were kidnapped in the middle of the night. These people were taken to secret government “detention centers” where they were tortured and killed. These people are known as the “los desaparecidos” or “the disappeared’.

     “I regret not getting more involved with the disappeared,” Uki Goñi, an Argentine journalist reporting the mothers’ testimonie, said. “But if I had, I probably wouldn’t be here today.”
     Family, friends and community members gather every Thursday at 3:30 p.m. to protest the disappearance of their loved ones.
     The Madres de Plaza de Mayo is an organization of Argentine women who fight for human rights in order to achieve a common goal. Their name comes from the Plaza de Mayo at which grandmothers and mothers of the lost first gathered in 1976.  For over three decades, the Mothers have struggled together in search of closure and truth.
     Generations of mothers have supported each other in their pursuit to find their missing sons and daughters. The mothers argue that under the military dictator, Juan Domingo Perón, as many as 30,000 people were kidnapped, tortured and killed. Three of the founding mothers of the Plaza de Mayo have also disappeared.
     Without consequences or explanations, the protestors insist on bringing their cases to justice.

     “Considering the past and our struggles with the government, the Argentine people have slowly adapted the habitation of evil,” Goῆi said. “Years ago, speaking out against the government meant life or death, so most people chose to not say anything.”

     Currently the Argentine government has admitted to 11,000 disappeared cases. Still, no apologies or memorial efforts have been made.
     Today, masses of white head scarves, or paῆuelos, banners, and pictures of the missing bring attention to this true human tragedy. In front of the Casa Rosada presidential palace, hundreds of lost names are blessed by gatherers as they walk and chant.   
     The exact number of those missing is impossible to determine due to the secrecy surrounding the abductions but the Mothers’ association seeks to keep the memory of their disappeared children alive through their courage, persistence and independence.


Uprisings Continue in Bariloche, Argentina after Police Kill Three Residents

by Hillary Houston

A Bariloche police officer killed a 15-year-old boy running from an alleged robbery June 21 in Bariloche, Argentina.

The Civic Center in Bariloche, Argentina where two protestors were killed by local law enforcement.”][/caption]

According to the Buenos Aires Herald, the boy was accused of taking a women’s purse while she was shopping in the neighborhood of Boris Furman, a suburb of Bariloche.

Bariloche Police Chief Jorge Carrizo told the local media that the officer followed a group of young people who were seen running from the scene of the robbery into a local park.

Minutes later a gun-shot went off and 15-year-old Diego Alexandre Bonefoi was dead.

A local judge, Judge Martin Lozada, ordered the arrest of the police officer involved.

Despite police reports of the detainment of the officer for further investigation, Bariloche residents and associates of the victim argue that it is not enough and protests and violence continue.

“We want change. We protest for encouraging education and outreach to our children, not violence,” Donni Pariggi, Bariloche resident and school teacher said. “We believe that violence will only bring more violence.”

After autopsy results revealed that Bonefoi was shot from a distance of two or three meters, matters only got worse.

“This tells us that the police officer was close enough to arrest the young boy, not kill him,” Donni said. “This is murder, not justice.”

Lozada said that. “It is unnecessary to shoot against the boy, because if the goal was to detain the child suspected of having committed a robbery, the policeman had in his power ‘to use other methods and resources to achieve that aim.”

In San Carlos de Bariloche, social organizations continue their march in the Civic Center of the city, after two more residents were killed by police.

During a protest march summoned by the father of young Bonefoi, supporters Matías Carrasco, 17, and Sergio Cárdenas, 29, were killed after police involvement.

Protesters say they will continue until those responsible for all three killings are charged accordingly.

“We want solutions and governmental intervention,” Donni said. “In my country, we strike and protest to bring attention to what we believe.”

The Bariloche Police Department with burn damage due to past protests.

Members of the Central of Argentine Workers called for a strike in Bariloche on Tuesday, June 27 with the aim of preventing further police brutality. Until these conditions are met, Police Station 28 in Bariloche is enduring serious riots and oppression from all over Argentina.

Argentine Humans Rights Secretary Gladys Cofre will travel to Bariloche to speak with social authorities and the victims’ families.


PalermoRadio- Where Radio is Transformed

by, Hillary Houston

     Music, opinions, news and people of all genres come together for Palermo’s radio station in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

     From Blondie to Italian opera, and reggae to talk radio, the Palermo barrrio and  surrounding areas enjoy new musical madness every day.

     Local and foreign contributors record and share their inspirations to whoever is tuned in to 94.7 and 93.9 FM. Programs, jingles, publicity, promos, you name it, these guys do it.

     The folks behind the station’s innovations work to entertain teach and inform locals with music and knowledge.

     “They work as hard as they play,” said Uki Gaῆa, journalist and musician. “What they are doing is the first of its kind that I ever seen.”

     In a world where all journalists fight for the “dying field,” RadioPalermo gives new hope to all radio broadcast stations.

     RadioPalermo’s station is specially designed to offer services to all creative minds willing to walk through the front door. “Independent producers” are able to develop their programs in comfortable environments, promoting the optimum place to work.

     RadioPalermo is a more than just a radio station; it is a center of learning. One can take workshops and participate in training seminars in expression, conduction, technical operation and production.

     Students, producers, advertisers, listeners and artists are given the chance to participate in their own unique radio programs. Together, they work to transform radio and broadcast journalism.

     The station offers many levels at which one can experience this magic. 

     “Self study” opportunities allow anyone to put on their own show and actually operate the technical aspects of the show. Self studying programs are equipped with top-of-the-line sound processing systems and technology. Students and artists are given the chance to learn, perform and create live radio.

     Studio audience rooms at the station allow radio hosts to share space with up to 15 people in their broadcast studios.

     The station also offer studies in the production of sound, where one can record and edit creative ideas and music in a live production.

     And of course, the station has its own bar, Radiobar-Reduced. The Radiobar and restaurant are open to the public, offering a view of the studios and the rooms of technical control.

    Whether it is the musical talents, the in house bar, freedom of speech or production studies, PalermoRadio gives all radio stations a run for their money.


U.S. Embassy Efforts in Argentina


Hillary Houston

The United States Embassy works to teach the people of Buenos Aires, Argentina, the truth behind the American red, white and blue.

From Internet social networks, hosting art and music events, to educational scholarships, the U.S. Embassy reaches out to more of the Argentine population every day.

“We use our press and cultural programs to enhance foreign affairs and knowledge by offering events in sports, art, music and the local youth,” U.S. Public Affairs Officer, Robert Howes, said.

Government employees are using new social media skills to inform and assist residents on programs offered by the Embassy. Today, the U.S. Embassy boasts over 17,000 online “friends” on Facebook and can also be found on websites, Twitter and YouTube.

The U.S. Public Affairs office offers Argentines new opportunities that include study abroad programs, work exchange visas, English classes and even employment opportunities.

The Buenos Aires Public Affairs Office is comprised of multiple departments, each specializing in furthering U.S. public relations.

The Press Office works through local and foreign media groups by informing them of accurate U.S. news, policies and society.

The Cultural Office organizes local events, lectures, performances and exhibits by leading American academics, musicians and artists.

“It’s a good bet that we are either helping to pay for it or push it through customs,” Howes said.

The Cultural Office also arranges educational and cultural exchange programs for Argentines interested in learning first-hand what American life is like.

The Embassy’s Information Resource Center (IRC) serves to provide Argentines with convenient information on U.S. government and policies, both foreign and domestic. The IRC interacts with residents by constantly updating online data, and responding to personal information requests.

Contrary to Argentine belief, the United States Embassy is working to mold a new perspective on how all the Americas view their Northern neighbor.