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Thousands of Argentines on Sunday took part in an annual commemoration of the 1976 military coup that led to eight years of repression and thousands of deaths, while protesting President Javier Milei’s downplaying of the damage caused by the dictatorship, Reuters reported.

The “Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice” occurs on the anniversary date of the army’s coup against President Isabel Perón on March 24, 1976. Every year, people take to the streets to remember those lost to the junta’s “dirty war” on political opponents. Around 30,000 people were killed, tortured, or disappeared between 1976 and 1983, according to human rights organizations’ figures.

Protesters on Sunday carried photos of missing persons. They were opposition politicians, trade union members, students, and infants. Under the military dictatorship, babies were kidnapped and illegally adopted by other families.

March 24 is usually commemorated in a festive and family-friendly atmosphere. However, this year’s demonstrations, the first to happen under Milei’s presidency, had a more aggressive tone, Agence France-Presse noted. Trade unions joined the protests amid unpopular austerity measures implemented by Milei.

The president, a libertarian and self-described “anarcho-capitalist,” and conservative Vice-President Victoria Villaruel have faced criticism for downplaying the impact of the dictatorship by rejecting human rights organizations’ numbers, instead saying the number of victims was about 9,000.

On Sunday, the government published a 12-minute video focusing on victims of communist guerilla attacks prior to the coup.

“We are facing a denialist government,” activist Taty Almedia told Agence France Presse. Estela de Carlotto, head of a group fighting to find the junta’s stolen children, told Reuters she demanded a law punishing deniers of the dictatorship’s crimes.

Since 2006, 1,176 people have been convicted for crimes related to the military’s rule, including crimes against humanity. But they have received support from Villaruel.

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