Tatchell slams image for new Argentinian banknote

June 1, 2020

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has condemned Argentina’s decision to honour a former health minister “who sympathised with Nazi ideas of eugenics and who sheltered and aided a Nazi war criminal”.

The image of Ramon Carrillo, who was health minister in the late 1940s during the rule of Juan Peron, is to appear on the new 5,000 peso banknote, which comes into circulation this month.

The Tatchell Foundation said Carrillo signed a five-year contract in 1947  “to employ SS Dr Carl Vaernet, who was known to have fled Europe to escape prosecution at a war crimes tribunal”.

It continued in a press release: “Vaernet was wanted for the medical experiments he conducted on gay prisoners in Nazi concentration camps. He was acting under the direction of the head of the Gestapo, Heinrich Himmler, to find ways to eliminate homosexuality.

“Argentina’s current health minister, GinĂ©s GonzĂĄlez GarcĂ­a, has praised Carrillo and defended his inclusion on the new banknote.

“In the late 1990s, human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, waged a long battle to expose Vaernet’s war crimes and his escape from justice.” 

Peter Tatchell said: “Argentina is supposed to be a democracy. Why is it honouring a man who sympathised with Nazi ideas of eugenics and who sheltered and aided a Nazi war criminal?

“Vaernet conducted experiments on gay prisoners in Buchenwald concentration camp, in a bid to develop medical procedures to erase homosexuality. He acted with the personal approval of the head of the Gestapo, Heinrich Himmler, who was committed to the total elimination of what he denounced as ‘abnormal existence’.

“Carrillo personally employed Vaernet, according to the contract they signed in 1947 to fund his ‘scientific specialism’, which was treatments and cures to stamp out homosexuality.

“Carrillo must have been aware of the war crime evidence against Vaernet because it was reported in the media at the time and there were calls for him to be extradited to Europe to face prosecution.”

The Buenos Aires Times said the local Jewish community in Argentina had reacted with outrage with Israel’s ambassador in Argentina, Galit Ronen, criticising the decision on Twitter: “When we say ‘Nunca mĂĄs’ (“Never again”) in reference to the Holocaust, there is no point in commemorating someone who at least sympathises with this ideology.”

The news site added that Carrillo’s relatives hit back at the criticism on Twitter, saying their father was never a Nazi and had good relations with Israel.

The Latin American chapter of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre also  criticised the choice of Carrillo for the new banknote, saying: “Carrillo, in addition to being an admirer of Hitler, created the concept of the ‘ideal soldier’ who would reject conscripts who he considered as racial and gender ‘oddities’. We emphatically reject the choice of such a character, that will sully Argentina with his image on its highest denomination banknote.”