NEW YORK (Aug. 26)
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs today confirmed reports that the son and daughter of Juan Gelman, a leading Jewish Argentine poet and journalist, were abducted Tuesday from their apartments in Buenos Aires, along with the son’s pregnant young wife, Maria. The six armed men who staged the kidnappings were believed to be members of a right-wing death squad.
Laurence R. Birns, director of the COHA, said Gelman had left his daughter, Nora Eva, 19, and his son, Marcelo Ariel, 20, behind in Argentina when he was forced to flee Argentina last year after receiving a death threat from an extreme right-wing organization, called the A A A.
At the time of the abduction, the kidnappers told the poet journalist’s wife that the kidnapping was an act of reprisal against her husband who is now in exile in Europe. He has been denouncing the excesses of the new Argentine military regime and its chronic violations of the human rights of its population, Birns said.
Gelman, 46, is considered one of Argentina’s most highly-regarded modernist poets who characteristically writes stanzas emphasizing political motifs. He had been editor of L’Opinion, an independent liberal daily. Among his published works of poetry are “Relaciones” (1973) and “Violin y otras Cuestrines” (1956).
CONCERTED ACTION MOUNTED
Birns said that, since the abduction, COHA has been making every effort to communicate the “extreme gravity” of the abduction to the Argentine government and the necessity for its authorities to immediately seek the release of the latest victims of the collapse of law and order in Argentina.
Birns said COHA has made efforts to be in touch with the State Department, the Organization of American States, the Argentine Embassy in Washington and major Jewish agencies in efforts to free the three members of the Gelman family before it is too late.
“We are absolutely certain that the three young Germans are entirely apolitical.” Birns said, adding that the abductions had taken place against a backdrop of rising acts of neo-Nazism and acts against prominent Jewish families in Argentina.
He said Morton-Rosenthal, director of the Late in American Affairs Department of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and a board member of COHA, had acted to express the ADL’s extreme concern over the situation in Argentina in general and the Gelman case in particular.
Birns described COHA as an American organization comprising leading citizens from different sectors of the nation’s life who have joined to increase the attention directed to United States Latin American relation and to increase the breadth of those who influence and make regional policy.