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One Mutiny Ends, Other Rebels Hold Out near Capital

April 18, 1987

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ About 130 soldiers who rebelled at a provincial garrison to demand amnesty for officers accused of human rights abuses surrendered, but a smaller group of mutineers held out early Saturday at an army base outside this capital.

Government forces surrounded about 30 rebels inside the infantry school at Campo de Mayo army base in suburban Buenos Aires. Streets in the area were cleared and the school’s water and electricity were cut off.

Defense Minister Horacio Jaunarena, upon leaving Government House early Saturday after a meeting with President Raul Alfonsin, told reporters the government is trying to avoid bloodshed in resolving the Campo de Mayo mutiny. He said the rebels’ situation ″cannot persist much longer.″

″We are making every effort to avoid the shedding of blood, but in any case, the necessary troop movements are being carried out,″ he said.

Witnesses at the suburban Buenos Aires army camp said heavily armed soldiers had arrived on trucks and had taken up positions about 200 yards from the complex of buildings occupied by the rebels.

An army lieutenant colonel at the school was dismissed Friday for inciting cadets to rebel, and eight of his subordinates were arrested in northern Argentina.

About 500 people shouting ″Long Live Democracy 3/8″ cheered the loyal troops as they entered the Campo de Mayo at dusk.

Gen. Ernesto Alais, commander of the Second Army Corps, said he had orders to take the school and added, ″I intend to take it.″

Loyal troops from corps headquarters in Rosario, 195 miles north, were in place and more were en route from other bases, he said.

Unconfirmed reports said Ernesto Barreiro, the rebel major who led the mutineers at the provincial garrison, took refuge at a ″foreign consulate″ in Cordoba, six miles from the camp.

No one was injured in either the Cordoba or Campo de Mayo rebellion, the government said.

″The situation in Cordoba is absolutely normal,″ Jaunarena said Friday after the officers and men who had supported Barreiro surrendered.

Alfonsin met for two hours with the army’s five corps commanders.

About 150,000 people went into the streets of Buenos Aires to show support for Alfonsin and his civilian government. Jaunarena said this demonstrated ″one more time that the people in a clear call want to live under democracy and a state of rights.″

The outpouring of support from all quarters, including the military chiefs and the political opposition, appeared to strengthen the Alfonsin administration.

Inauguration of the Alfonsin government in December 1983 ended nearly eight years of military rule during which the ″dirty war″ against leftists was waged and Argentina fought a real one with Britain over the Falkland Islands, with disastrous results.

Barreiro, 40, was ordered to testify about the military campaign against alleged leftist subversion but took refuge Thursday in the camp outside Cordoba.

The army alert was declared to prevent the revolt from spreading beyond the Regiment 14 paratrooper camp at the Third Army Corps headquarters 440 miles northwest of Buenos Aires.

Gen. Hector Rios Erenu, army chief of staff, fired the colonel in charge of the rebel camp in Cordoba and Lt. Col. Aldo Rico, accused of urging cadets at the Campo de Mayo infantry school to join the rebellion.

A government announcement said eight officers under Rico’s command were arrested while traveling in five cars in northern Entre Rios province. No further details were available.

Barreiro fled to the camp rather than testify in Cordoba federal court about atrocities committed at the La Perla detention camp under military juntas that ruled Argentina after a coup in 1976. It is one of several regimental camps on the large army base six miles from the city.

Human rights groups say Barreiro was an officer at the camp and participated in abductions, torture and murder of suspected leftists during campaign against alleged leftist subversion. It had been considered likely that charges would be filed against him.

After Barreiro failed to appear in court, he was declared ″in rebellion″ Thursday and stripped of his rank.

A rebel statement issued from the camp Thursday demanded amnesty for the approximately 250 military officers accused of human rights abuses and the resignation of Gen. Rios Erenu, the army chief of staff.

Alfonsin said in a broadcast address Thursday night: ″The democracy of the Argentines is not negotiable.″

The government says at least 9,000 people disappeared, presumably killed, in the ″dirty war.″ Human rights organizations put the total at up to four times that.

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