Victoria Villarruel, the vice-president-elect of Argentina, has garnered attention for her campaign advocating for a revision of the memory structure surrounding the disappeared individuals during the country’s last dictatorship from 1976 to 1983.
As of December 10th, she will assume responsibility for the Defense and Security sectors, making her the successor to Cristina Fernández as the leader of the Argentine Senate and the designated replacement for the president in case of any unforeseen circumstances.
However, Villarruel’s controversial views and connections have sparked intense debates and concerns among various sectors of society.
Early Life and Background
Victoria Villarruel was born on April 13th, 1975, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is the daughter of the late Lieutenant Colonel Eduardo Marcelo Villarruel, a veteran of the Falklands War, and the niece of Ernesto Guillermo Villarruel, who was detained in 2015 for crimes committed during the dictatorship.
These familial ties have shaped Villarruel’s perspective on historical events and influenced her controversial stance on the number of disappeared individuals during that time.
Controversial Stance on the Number of Disappeared
Villarruel has been a vocal advocate for the belief that the number of disappeared during the “Proceso de Reorganización Nacional” is significantly lower than the commonly accepted figure of 30,000. She contends that the actual number is 8,751, challenging the narrative put forth by human rights organizations like the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo.
This denialist stance has sparked widespread criticism and led to accusations of downplaying the atrocities committed during the dictatorship.
Defense and Security Policies
As the incoming overseer of the Defense and Security sectors, Villarruel has outlined her proposals for combating insecurity, one of the most pressing concerns among Argentinians.
Her approach involves enhancing the collaboration among federal forces to combat organized crime, particularly focusing on the pervasive issue of drug trafficking throughout the country, with specific attention to areas such as Rosario, where the problem is particularly acute.
Villarruel intends to allocate an additional 2% of the country’s GDP to the Defense and Security areas. This increase in funding aims to bolster resources, modernize equipment, and improve training for security forces, thus enhancing their ability to combat criminal activities effectively.
Revisiting the Historical Narrative
One of Villarruel’s key campaign promises was to “reconstruct the erased part of history” that she believes was neglected by previous governments, including the administrations of the late Néstor Kirchner, Cristina Fernández, and Alberto Fernández.
As an attorney, she established the Center for Legal Studies on Terrorism and its Victims in 2006, emphasizing the need to examine the violence perpetrated by guerrilla groups during the 1970s. According to Villarruel’s organization, these “terrorists” attacked 17,380 “innocent citizens,” resulting in the deaths of 1,094 individuals.
International Connections and Controversies
Villarruel’s international connections have raised eyebrows and generated controversy. She has acted as a conduit for the president-elect to engage with far-right factions in other countries, including Vox in Spain, Trumpist Republicans in the United States, and Bolsonaristas in Brazil.
While these relationships have been criticized by some, they highlight Villarruel’s efforts to foster alliances beyond Argentina’s borders.
Position on Abortion and Traditional Values
As a prominent figure within the conservative movement, Villarruel is a staunch opponent of abortion rights. Alongside President-elect Javier Milei, she is expected to seek the revision or repeal of the law that allows abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy in cases of rape or life-threatening circumstances.
Her affiliation with the traditionalist Catholic order, Fraternidad Sacerdotal San Pío X, further underscores her conservative values and opposition to certain doctrines of the Vatican II Council.
Victoria Villarruel’s ascendancy to the role of vice-president-elect in Argentina has been met with both fervent support and vehement opposition. Her campaign to revise the historical narrative surrounding the disappeared individuals during the dictatorship, along with her controversial stance on the number of victims, has sparked intense debates.
As she assumes control of the Defense and Security sectors, her proposals to combat insecurity and increase funding for these areas will be closely scrutinized. Villarruel’s international connections and conservative values further contribute to the complex landscape she will navigate as she takes on this crucial role in Argentina’s government.
The future will reveal the impact she will have on the nation’s policies and the ongoing discussions surrounding its recent history.