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Marie-Monique Robin


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Marie-Monique Robin (born 1960) is an award-winning French journalist. She received the Albert Londres prize in 1995 for Voleurs d'yeux, an expose about organ theft. She also wrote a book and made a film documentary titled Escadrons de la mort, l'école française (The Death Squads: The French School) which investigated ties between the French secret services and Argentine and Chilean counterparts. In this documentary she showed that counter-insurgency tactics used during the Algerian War (1954-62), including extensive use of torture, had been taught to Argentine security forces. The security forces later used them during the Dirty War in the 1970-80s and for Operation Condor. She received an award for "best political documentary of the year" by the French Senate in recognition of this investigation.

After studying journalism in Strasbourg, she went to Nicaragua and worked in South America as a freelance reporter. She traveled to South America more than 80 times including 30 times to Cuba. She reported on the Colombian guerrillas and later worked for CAPA.

Voleurs d'yeux

Voleurs d'yeux (Eye Thieves) was both a book and a film about her investigations on organ theft. After being shown at the United Nations, a decision was made to begin a UN-sanctioned investigation. However, she alleges that an employee of the United States Information Agency tried to convince NGOs to cut their relationships with her. She attempted to interview him in Washington DC, wondering why each affair denounced in the Latin American press was officially denied by the US embassy 48 hours later. This man unsuccessfully tried to convince in Paris the secretary of the Fédération des affaires des droits de l'homme that "Mrs. Robin is a KGB member."[2] The USIA accused her film of being a lie, however after a period of hardship during which she was subjected to various pressures and personal attacks, she retained the Albert Londres prize. Marie-Monique Robin subsequently quit CAPA to work again as freelance, doing a report on Cuba for Thalassa, a French television program, and on false allegations of pedophilia made on teachers.

Escadrons de la mort, l'école française

In her 2004 book on death squads, Robin showed how French military officials had taught Argentine counterparts counter-insurgency tactics including the systemic use of torture as practiced in Algeria.

A 1959 agreement between Paris and Buenos Aires created a "permanent French military mission", formed of French army personnel who had fought in the Algerian War (1954-62). The mission was located in the offices of the chief of staff of the Argentine Army. Robin declared in L'Humanité: "[the] French have systematized a military technique in urban environment which would be copied and pasted to Latin American dictatorships".

Roger Trinquier was a French theorist of counter-insurgency who legitimized the use of torture. His famous book on counter-insurgency, Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency, had a strong influence in South America and elsewhere, including in the School of the Americas. Trinquier was a member of the Cité catholique fundamentalist group which gathered many former members of the OAS pro-"French Algeria" terrorist group and opened a subsidiary in Argentina near the end of the 1950s. It had an important role in teaching ESMA Navy officers counter-insurgency doctrines including the systemic use of torture and ideological support.

The head of DINA Manuel Contreras told Robin that the Direction de surveillance du territoire (DST) French intelligence agency communicated to the Chilean secret police the names of refugees who had returned to Chile (Operation Retorno). All of these Chileans were killed. "Of course, this puts in cause the French government, and Giscard d'Estaing, then President of the Republic. I was very shocked by the duplicity of the French diplomatic position which, on one hand, received with open arms the political refugees, and, on the other hand, collaborated with the dictatorships."

General Paul Aussaresses also taught US Army these tactics, used during the Vietnam War. She showed how Valéry Giscard d'Estaing's government secretly collaborated with the Videla's junta in Argentine and with Augusto Pinochet's regime in Chile, while openly receiving at the same time many political refugees who were granted the right of asylum.

Citing Roger Faligot, a French journalist and expert on Ireland, Marie-Monique Robin also noted that General Frank Kitson's book Low Intensity Operations: Subversion, Insurgency and Peacekeeping, had become the "Bible" used by the British Army during the Troubles in Ireland and that it quoted heavily from Roger Trinquier.

Algerian Civil War

At the conclusion of her book, she cites the 2003 report by Algeria-Watch titled Algérie, la machine de mort, which stated:

"To conserve their power and their fortunes nurtured by corruption, those who have been called the généraux janviéristes (Generals of January) — Generals Larbi Belkheir, Khaled Nezzar, Mohamed Lamari, Mohamed Mediène, Smaïl Lamari, Kamal Abderrahmane and several others — did not hesitate in triggering against their people a salvage repression, using, at a unpreceded scale in the history of civil wars of the second half of the XXth century, the "secret war" technics theorized by certain French officers during the Algerian War for Independence, from 1954 to 1962: death squads, systemic torture, kidnapping and disappearances, manipulation of the violence of opponents, desinformation and "psychological action", etc".

Citing Lounis Aggoun and Jean-Baptiste Rivoire, Françalgérie. Crimes et mensonges d'État (2004), Marie-Monique Robin refers to false flag attacks committed by Algerian death squads formed by secret agents disguised as Islamist terrorists, including the OJAL created by the DSR security services and the OSSRA (Organisation secrète de sauvegarde de la République algérienne, Secret Organisation of Safeguard of the Algerian Republic), which recalled "the French Main rouge", a terrorist group during the 1960s which may have been constituted by French secret services, "or the Argentine Triple A.":

After having liquidated tens of opponents, passing as anti-Islamist civils, these pseudo-organisations disappeared in mid-1994. Because at the same moment, the leaders of the DRS preferred to generalise the unfolding and action of death squads also composed of their men, but passing by as Islamist terrorists.

The Battle of Algiers

Thirty-five years after the Algerian War, Robin interviewed two Argentine navy cadets from the infamous ESMA after a screening of The Battle of Algiers, a 1966 film by Gillo Pontecorvo which had been at the time censored in France. The screening was presented by Antonio Caggiano, archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1959 to 1975 who inaugurated the first course on counter-revolutionary warfare at the Higher Military College with President Arturo Frondizi. Caggiano, the military chaplain at the time, introduced the film approvingly and added a religiously oriented commentary. Anibal Acosta, one of the cadets interviewed, described the session:

They showed us that film to prepare us for a kind of war very different from the regular war we had entered the Navy School for. They were preparing us for police missions against the civilian population, who became our new enemy.

She also noted that Pentagon officials also viewed Pontecorvo's film on August 27, 2003.

Official responses to Robin's film

On September 10, 2003 French Green Party deputies Noël Mamère, Martine Billard and Yves Cochet made a formal request for the constitution of a parliamentary commission on the "role of France in the support of military regimes in Latin America from 1973 to 1984" before the Foreign Affairs Commission of the National Assembly. Apart from Le Monde, newspapers in France remained silent about this request.However, Deputy Roland Blum in charge of the Commission refused to hear Robin and published in December 2003 a 12-page report qualified by Robin as "the summum of bad faith". The paper claimed that no agreement had been signed, despite the agreement found by Robin at the Quai d'Orsay

When Minister of Foreign Affairs Dominique de Villepin traveled to Chile in February 2004, he claimed that no cooperation between France and the military regimes had occurred.

Le monde selon Monsanto (The World According to Monsanto)

In March 2008, her documentary about the Monsanto Company (English title, The World According to Monsanto) was aired on the Arte network in France and Germany. It was a co-production between Arte and the National Film Board of Canada. The movie tells the story of the Saint Louis firm: located in 46 countries, Monsanto has become the world leader in GMO (more than 90% of the market share), the firm also produces PCBs (pyralene), herbicides (such as the Agent Orange during the Vietnam war), and the bovine artificial growth hormones, used for milk production, prohibited in Europe. The documentary explains that since its creation in 1901 the firm accumulated law suits for poisoning and polluting, while presenting itself today as a company of "life sciences", converted to the virtues of sustainable development. In her investigation the journalist discovers that to impose its GMOs on the world, Monsanto first infiltrated the sciences and regulatory spheres . Translated into 15 languages, the movie and book are a huge hit internationally. In France the documentary was released when the debate about GMOs divided the political class and the researchers while the majority of the population was opposed to their use.

Torture Made in USA

Torture Made in USA is a documentary of Marie-Monique Robin released in 2009.

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