The 1970s: "Where is Argentina Now?"

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As the 1960s came to a close, Marshall remarked that Argentina was in for a “prolonged period of struggling, unrest, and enormous instability.” He had no idea what an understatement this was.

A country once recognized as one of the richest in the world and distinguished by its cosmopolitan sophistication and large middle-class, had descended into urban guerilla warfare. A fascist paramilitary group called the Alianza Anticomunista Argentina or AAA was responsible for the disappearances and presumed murders of thousands of left-wing political opponents and labor leaders. Heavily armed right-wing militants killed heavily armed left-wing militants, who retaliated in kind. Newspapers decried the bombings of banks, assassinations of business executives, and general economic chaos.

It was under these conditions in the mid 1970s that people of all faiths began to approach Meyer in his capacity as a spiritual leader, not knowing where else to turn for help in finding their loved ones who had abruptly disappeared. Meyer was moved to advocate for them not from political sympathies, but rather from a sense of “supreme duty” to help another suffering human being.

So it was perhaps understandable that many Argentines welcomed the news that the armed forces had overthrown the government in a coup d’état on March 24, 1976. There was a widespread sense of hope that the quotidian violence would finally come to an end.

Marshall was also hopeful that the situation would improve, but he was not entirely convinced by the promises of the generals. Incidents of anti-Semitism were becoming more rampant throughout the country, and the armed forces fostered these prejudices.