I wanted to testify about the horrors experienced so that the guilty may be condemned, so that all of those who have been repressed – the disappeared, the assassinated, the kidnapped, the detained, the incarcerated, the exiled, the family members, friends and companions – may be remembered and honored for their intimate struggle. So that justice may be established/had. So that this catastrophe, of which I am a direct victim, shall NEVER be repeated.
On the day of July 30, 1976, I was only 16 years old.
At 12:30 p.m., joined forces of the Argentine army, the Argentine federal police, the Santa Fe Provincial Police and civil personnel of the State Intelligence Services (S.I.D.E.) burst into my house, located at Moreno Street 27141, Apartment 3, in the city of Santa Fe.
Without a search warrant, and in a threatening manner, they arrested me and seized the home I shared with my parents. They searched the entire house. They stole personal belongings – such as my father’s tools, my mother’s clothes and private books (among other things), commonly known as “booty.” And they completed their search with a “Negative” result. I was thrown brutally into the army van, my hands cuffed behind my back.
The street looked like a war scene in a the North American movie “Case B.” Army trucks had driven in on the wrong side of street. Police sirens were howling. Civilian cars blocked the street entrance and exit, their doors still open. I thought maybe they were looking for someone else, given the magnitude of the armed deployment.
Military officials were on the sidewalk, dressed in fatigues with long sleeves. They warned the onlookers to not leave their home, to close their shutters and balcony doors, to not spy through the windows because “there could be a confrontation.”
It was only a staging to justify the troops, to justify (to the neighbors) the kidnapping of an adolescent who had participated in the Centro de Estudiantes (“Student Center”), and who was a activist for the Unión de Estudiantes Secundarios (“High School Student Union”).
Immediately I was taken to the First Station, at Junta 2454 in the city of Santa Fe.
I was received by the security official of the day (I don’t remember his name), whom I told I was sick and had rubella. He consulted with the Senior Commissioner, Lisandro Mario KAUFMANN.
The decided to move me to the “Police Waiting Room.”
It was in the basement of the former Piloto Hospital, on Avenue Gdor. Freyre 2150 (now José María Cúllen Hospital). I was carried there in handcuffs, and received by the resident doctor. He ordered that they remove the handcuffs at once. He examined me, confirmed my illness and informed me that I needed medication and rest.
At about 4 p.m. they moved me back to the First Station. The Senior Commissioner Lisandro Mario KAUFMANN decided to place me in solitary confinement. I was locked/trapped inside an empty room, in the corner of the first floor.
They covered my head with a “hood,” cuffed my hands and my feet, and with some strips of cloth /bands they hooked my hands and feet together, keeping me totally immobile in a squat position for more than 160 hours, with the sole exception of one bathroom visit per day.
I never received the medication, which provoked a very high fever, along with vomiting, cold sweats and some convulsions.
The highest ranking officer of/officer responsible for the First Station was the Senior Commissioner Lisandro Mario KAUFMANN (class 1933-M.I.6.331.447). A few months after sponsoring and concealing these crimes (or being an accomplice to?), as well as their instigators/perpetrators, he was promoted to Inspector Commissioner by “Decree 4447” of Law 28/12/76 of the Provincial Governor, which I have included in the annex.
I was abandoned there like an object, and the hours passed.
At night two officers in uniform, from the Provincial Police (alias “Gerardo” and “Jorge”), appear in order to “soften me” (speak to me between threats and false suggestions).
I denounced to them my illegal detention and violation of all rights, and I receive a response similar to all responses that, “this is the beginning... the worst is yet to come” clearly alluding to torture and other indignities, which I would later suffer.
"Gerardo" simulated being wicked, tyrranical and ruthless; and “Jorge” simulated being kind, understanding and pious.
The “bad guy” tried to demoralize me and break my solidarity ties saying, “The peers that you defend so much, they will rat you out...” The “good guy” advised me to, “collaborate with us and you will walk free … if not, “Gerardo” (the bad guy) will become very upset... I am telling you for your own good... sing about your companions at school, sing about what you guys did at the Student Center... I am telling you for your own good.”
The reality is that they were two sides of the same repressive coin and one could not exist without the other. Without knowing it, I was facing the game of “good guy — bad guy,” which would repeat itself in a systematic and planned manner in each “interrogation” I lived.
The ones that “ratted me out” were not my companions, rather military officers and their assistants.
They decided each and every one of the horrors to which I was involuntarily subjected: “hold me captive” (illegally kidnap me); “give me the machine” (torture me repeatedly); keep me as a “detained—disappeared” for more than three months in a concentration camp; “make me appear” and subject me to the National Executive Power (P.E.N.) for more than two years in the same concentration camp, “free me”; once again “hold me captive” (illegally kidnap me) a total of three times for various days between 1979 and 1981.
Yet it remains clear that the offenders (the military and their henchmen), never assumed responsibility for their criminal decisions, instead transferring that responsibility to their victims.
“Sing about your companions at school, sing about what you guys did at the Student Center... I am telling you for your own good.”
What this clearly demonstrates is an inability to do “intelligence” without a hood and without a cattle prod. They were not able to ascertain through their own means (the entire intelligence apparatus) what activities were carried out in a Student Center of a provincial high school, where the average age was 16.
Among many things, they could: tap telephone lines or access the material published, printed and signed by the Student Center and/or the different political groups. They weren’t able to go to the Center and demand/request the material that no one had ever denied them; and if they had denied them, they could search the place. Nor did it occur to them to use informers or credible infiltrators.
I say this because in my class (4th Constructions) they put a “pathetic infiltrator.” He tripled us in age (46), arrived after the class year had commenced and entered directly into the fourth year — in a school that had a “single entrance” policy in the first year. His name was MIRANDA, and he lived in Santo Tomé.
What demonstrates the almost grotesque incompetence/obtuseness of the D-2 was that he couldn’t even deceive simple adolescents. If they were so useless that they did not know how to “spy” on a Student Center, one can understand why, in the Falklands War, they didn’t know which weapons NATO had.
“Collaborate with us... and you will walk free.” Tempt me to receive “the master’s reward.” What a hoax.
Hundreds of the “collaborators” that fell for this, to this day remain “disappeared.” This obeys a double logic: first they let them live (the reward) in order to “use them”; then they “disappear” (the punishment) because they “knew too much” and put the repressive structure and its authors at risk. Many of the “tempted collaborators” paid for their “sins” with their lives.
Because for these clerical assasins, “temptation has its reward and its subsequent punishment.”
The ¨collaborators¨ were kept alive and used by the military in its various plans, general or specific. They received their miserable rewards and were used for the worst ends. To create the hope that ¨only those who collaborate¨ would be saved from death.
To demoralize, with their complicity, the ¨detained—disappeared¨ that they knew, and all of those who resisted.
To break our solidarity ties, infiltrate us and make us distrust our fellows/peers. To show us that ¨it could be better¨ if ¨ we would only collaborate. ¨
They tried to confuse us and make us believe that ¨improving the quality of our lives¨ depended on us, not on them, our executioners. It was their (the military, its ¨gang¨and its accomplices) exclusive responsibility, design and decision-making that we were in nearly indescribable survival conditions. Only their decision or caprice could improve or worsen our living conditions.
They were also instruments of simple particular issues, like ¨slave labor,¨ used to perform any type of assignment, from torture to sex.
I believe the cynical concern, ¨I am telling you for your own good...,¨ relieved me of all commentary.
Is it possible that my torturer desires my own good? If he desires me own good, he could simply not torture me.
¨If not, ¨Gerardo¨ (the bad guy) will become very upset.¨
Once again trying to avoid taking charge of their crimes.
Trying to transfer their inescapable responsibility to me, their victim. Trying to pin the responsibility for their dramatic/salient destiny to their victims, not the offenders.
If “Gerardo” (the king of the show) “became very upset” it was because someone allowed him to do so.
Initially, it was the Senior Commissioner Lisándro Mario KAUFMANN of the First Station.
It served someone that he “become very upset” because he was a “henchman.”
He was a “servant” to the Department of Intelligence, run by Inspector General Felix PALLAVIDINI, (class 1922-M.I.3.162.960), employee of the Police Headquarters, run by Coronel Carlos Alberto RAMIREZ (class 1927-M.I.4.038.625) and Deputy Chief of Police, Inspector General Nino NOVELLI.
All were supervised and backed by “Defense Area 212,” which was run by Coronel José María GONZALEZ , who was later replaced by Coronel Juan Orlando ROLÓN.
They were not “public servants.”
On the contrary, they generated “chaos through their criminal acts of immense failure,” serving the same Security Forces that had subverted their sense of “defending public order.” They were, in the end, another cog in the oily “repressive machine.”
They used brute and servile outcasts, with a known and repugnant criminal record. For “a little power” and some extra cash, these outcasts kidnapped, tortured, assassintated and buried or dumped in the river, dozens of teenagers/young people.
The “bad guy” was Provincial Police Officer, Eduardo Alberto " Gerardo" RAMOS (class 1955-D.N.I. 11.555.259- impinging on? the "D-2" Intelligence group).
This delinquent used different aliases: "Gerardo" or "The Kind" or "The Show" . He would be best descibed as “Gerardo, the king of the show.”
In the annex I have attached official documents, such as his judicial records, the Payroll of the provincial police, court cases and claims filed against him with the National Commission on Disappeared Persons.
The “good guy,” Luis Alberto "Jorge" OLIVERA, (class 1955- D.N.I. 11.658.3-Prontuario 274.642), was also a Provincial Police Officer. He had a criminal record that included manslaughter and disciplinary sanctions, among other crimes.
In the annex I have attached his judicial records.
They were just a brick in the social firing squad.
On or about August 4th or 5th, in the hours of dawn, a police officer wakes me and asks if I know “first aid.” I tell him, “a little,” but he says “come, because at least you went to high school, I didn´t.”
He un-cuffed my hands and feet and takes me to the clerk´s room.
I am aghast. I see Ms. María Rosa Almirón (42) in a semi-conscious state, lying naked on the floor, wrapped in a dirty blanket, with clear signs that she has been savagely tortured.
Her eyelids, mouth, armpits and lower abdomen were burned. Her body emitted a nauseating stench, she had thrown up and urinated, she had hemorrhaged, and I think remnants of semen were on her, as well.
She had incontinence and they had almost torn off her left nipple. Her legs were swollen and formless, such that they had an almost continuous thickness, and they were a strange color.
Horrified and scared, I asked who had done this to her. She stammered two phrases that I remember to this day: “Two were companions” (years later I learned that she was referring to Eduardo Alberto RAMOS and another infiltrate, both members of the Intelligence Service D2). The second was: “The Octopus told them everything.”
Quickly I explained to the security guard that María Rosa was gravely ill and would die any moment if she did not receive medical attention immediately. I said to him: “surely they will hold you responsible.”
I waited for him to give the order to send her to a doctor (out of a sense of humanity or simply the fear of being sanctioned by his superiors).
I knew she was moved to the Police Room where she remained for three months, and that years passed before she recovered. That wickedly cold night, in an attempt to protect her by covering her brutally ravaged skin, I gave her my only coat, a blanket, and wrapped her with mercy.
Meanwhile, in a desperate search against time, my parents had an interview with Mr. Fránklin WILLIAMS (among other “influential” people). My father worked with him for various years in the same office, the legal department of the National Argentine Bank.
On March 24, 1976, Mr. WILLIAMS switched from the Bank to a governmental office. He was a “Private Secretary” of the Military Auditor of the Santa Fe Province, Colonel José María GONZALEZ, who in those days, was responsible for the Artillery Command 121 of “Area 212.” In the annex I have included official documents signed by the Military Auditor himself.
In the interview, WILLIAMS seems to know about the motives and details of my kidnapping and forced “disappearance.” He says to my dad : “she is like “NN” in the First Station. She will never come back.”
They heard this ruling many more times. Yet, they always returned, they always insisted, and they never abandoned their claims, complaints or petitions.
Many more times came to get me. They were always denied my whereabouts; I was always in units of the Military or Police Forces. I want to pay a small homage to my parents, who struggled so much.
At dawn on August 7, they brought me to the central hall of the Station. My knees hurt so badly that I could not walk down the stairs.
There I found my companion from school, Viviana Cazoll (16), as well as a few men that are been moved with us, but in a police van.
The police official María Eva AEVI puts her gun to my waist in order to move me into the back of the police car. She used so much pressure with her gun that she leaves my skin red. They push us out and we arrive at our final destination.
The Reinforced Infantry Guard greeted us with all of its brutality that dawn. The man responsible for that “Concentration Camp” was Senior Commissioner Jorge Alberto Patricio VILLALBA, (clase 1934-M.I. 6.220.154). In the annex I have attached official documents.
I am placed in a room that is 36 me2 (6 x 6) with 10 bunkbeds (20 beds) and about 40 women. There were two more rooms: one was 20 m2 (2.5 x 8) with 20 women, the other 8 m2 (2 x 4) with 4 women. 64 women in total.
At dawn on the 10 or 11th of August, when Graciela ’Choca’ OCHOA and Graciela ARRIETA were on duty as security guards (both members of the Provincial Police and both onsite jailors), they move me to the Fourth Station on Tucuman Street 3595 in the city of Santa Fe. At the entrance on Zavalla Boulevard 2478, it today serves as the “Police Information Division.”
They remove me from the Reinforced Infantry Guard in a civil car, an olive green Ford Falcon, crouched in the back seat so that I couldn’t see where we were going.
I suspected my tragic and immediate destination, which made me insistently ask the driver: “where are they taking me and what is going to happen to me?”
I received a punch as the only response.
The driver of the car was Provincial Police Agent Eduardo José "the skinny guy" CORDOBA, (clase 1948-M.I. 6.308.170).
In the annex I have attached various official documents, certifying his function as a driver responsible for moving the “detained and/or disappeared, signed by him and designated by Decree 0609 of May 3, 1976.
We enter through the garage, they take me out of the car with punches, I walk about 20 meters, and they throw me into a disgusting cell, 6 m2 with a bench for a bed and seat.
A heavy green armored door, with tiny peephole. The walls are a yellowish color, and have creepy engravings. I remember one, that days later I understood in its totality: “my god, please don’t let them torture me more.”
Even without knowing where I was I already knew why I was there.
The next night, the door to the cell opens. A uniformed officer, hood in hand, tells me in demands “Let’s go.”
After putting the hood on me, he takes me to a room in the same Station where they torture me.
Though I could not see them, I remember their voices, their words, their vices. They order me to take off my clothes, they attach my feet and my hands to a metal bed frame.
Naked, hooded, only 16 years old, alone with an unknown Commissioner and in the hands of a pathetic abuser, some of the worst hours of my life passed.
They suffocated me various times (what they call the “dry submarine”) , throwing in insults and a few questions about my participation in the Student Center.
The pair and horror grew and grew, and they decided to shock me. The prods hurt, they burn deep inside the skin, they shocked me, they bent and stretched me, and they began to beat me.
I wished they would stop quickly, I think I couldn’t take any more and me fainting was my escape from that witches’ sabbath.
Slowly I wake up when two or three people enter the room, they take me in two to the cell, open the heavy door and throw me in, beaten and torn.
I think I slept.
When I awoke the next day, I knew I was no longer the same teenager, I knew my life had changed forever.
I promised myself that this atrocity must be made known and must be condemned, so that it may never be repeated.
Life in the 4th was incredibly hard. I was isolated all day, given one meal per day, very little water and, if I begged, one or two bathroom visits per day.
We were never bathed and the stench-ridden cells were never cleaned.
I was clearly in an awful state of health: I had difficulty walking, going pee, and I was always lying down on hard bench, because there wasn’t even one pillow. My entire body ached from the punches, the burns, but above all, the humiliation they subjected me to. A doctor never saw me, and at the end of the second day, they suddenly moved me from the 4th.
Over time I learned that the one responsible for the 4th Station was Deputy Commissioner Mario José FACINO (class 1935-M.I. 6.223.472-Police Records 316.504), promoted to Commissioner by Decree 4447 del 28/12/76’ signed by the Provinvial Governor, attached in the annex.
At present, he was elected President of the Municipality of San José del Rincón, in the Santa Fe Province, by the Justicialist Party. I have attached official documents in the annex.
Víctor Hugo CABRERA (class 1953-M.I 10.874.541 Police Record 265.273), Provincial Police Agent, had prior convictions for robbery, aggravated theft and the unlawful deprivation of liberty, among others.
At trial, CABRERA testified in relation to claims of duress: “it occurred at the 4th Station, CHARTIER, who is my boss, interrogated him, REBECHI from the Province, an Officer GUTIERREZ, and (Eduardo Alberto) RAMOS. After a while I left the division.
He was referring to the Deputy Commissioner Germán Raúl CHARTIER (class 1932-M.I. 6.211.880), promoted to Commissioner by Decree 4910 del 28/12/78 signed by the Governor of the Santa Fe Province.
Carlos Osmar REBECHI (class 1942 - M.I. 6.246.861 - Record 331.864) would be the Senior Officer of the Provincial Police Headquarters, promoted to Deputy Commissioner by Decree 4851 del 21/12/77 signed by the Provincial Governor.
Juan Eduardo “Pink Panther” GONZALEZ (class 1951-M.I. 8.584.939, Record 283.243), Provincial Police Agent, had prior convictions for infliction of serious injury, contempt, aggravated theft, attacks against authority and misuse of weapons, among others.
A few of the torturers were:
Juan Eduardo “Pink Panther” GONZALEZ (class 1951-M.I. 8.584.939, Record 283.243), Provincial Police Agent, had prior convictions for infliction of serious injury, contempt, aggravated theft, attacks against authority and misuse of weapons, among others.
Eduardo Alberto “Gigs” RAMOS, (class 1955-M.I. 11.555.259, Police Record 279.683) Provincial Police Officer. He had prior convictions for corruption, drug abuse, aggravated theft and the unlawful deprivation of liberty, among others.
He also had prior convictions for violating Article 52 of the Police Offenses Code.
In the annex, I have attached official documents regarding each of the officers and their convictions – e.g. judicial complaints, police records, testimony before the court (admissions), rulings, etc.
The aforementioned criminal convictions appear in their service records (I have attached photocopies), and were violations of Law 6769 of Police Personnel Code.
It was impossible to ignore them, as Colonel Carlos Alberto RAMIREZ (class 1927-M.I.4.038.625; appointed by Decree 0608 of May 3, 1976 signed by the Governor of the Santa Fe Province).
In addition, Inspector General Nino NOVELLI (of the Provincial Police) and Inspector General Felix PALLAVIDINI (of the Intelligence Department; class 1922-M.I.3.162.960) had these criminals and delinquents under their command. There must be something going on here.
In the annex, I have attached official documents (decree 3104 of the Governor of the Santa Fe Province), certifying that the above-mentioned individuals held these positions.
At the end of the second day, they moved me suddenly. At dawn on August 13 or 14, 1976, as was their custom, they burst into my cell at the Fourth Station and carried me to the garage.
Due to the painful state I was in, I could not climb into the backseat of the green Falcon, and Crio. Ppal. VILLALBA, decided to seat me in front. The destination was the Reinforced Infantry Guard. When we arrived, I could see an unmarked ambulence carrying a body covered by a white sheet.
My companions welcomed me and told me about that if I hadn’t come back that day they would have begun a hunger strike.
Miss Berta “Nata” Ritvo de Streiger was a warm 62 year old woman who had experience in “curing” torture victims.
Her prescription was water, rest and great affection.
I put myself back together.
At times, I believe I owe my life to my companions.
Life in the Reinforced Infantry Guard in August of 1976 consisted of a group of 60 women waiting. We knew that “something” would happen to each of us, but that “something” was not anything good. Time proved us right.
At or about the end of August, or beginning of September, they took away our only daily recess (a one hour recess on the patio) – we didn’t see the patio again for over 6 months. We were locked inside a room all day.
There was a small light bulb that emitted an intense light, which irritated our eyes as it was on all day. We were prohibited from moving from the bunks, and we were allowed to walk only when we went to the bathroom.
Our bodies grew numb from being immobile for such long stretches of time. Our living conditions were worse each day. The rooms were packed with women, an average of two new detained women per night.
The overcrowding generated irritability and phobias.
On Wednesday August 18, 1976, I slowly recovered from the torture using kerchiefs moistened with cold water, tea and some rest in the flea-infested bunks.
At another scene, on Pedro Centeno 2875 in the City of Santa Fe, two blocks from the his house on Pedro Ferré 3313 (which he shares with his parents), the officer from the Intelligence Group D-2, Eduardo Alberto “Kingpin” RAMOS (one of my torturers), found his fix/pleasure in drugs and orgies:
“smoking marijuana” in the company of young adults of both sexes… completely naked and performing sexual acts. (taken from his court testimony, attached in the annex).
He was later charged for corruption committed against a minor, Carlos A. Fernández.
On December 3, 1976, Eduardo Alberto “Kingpin” RAMOS was accused of dubious behavior in relation to Fernández (the minor mentioned above), according to the decision of Instructing Judge Raúl Luis Betemps.
In the annex, I have attached copies of the signed and sealed complaint and ruling.
Due to the consumption of marijuana, the complaint was removed to Federal Court, where Doctor MANTARAS, Secretary to Dr. Víctor Hermes BRUSA, presided. In a little over one week (nine working days), Eduardo “Gerardo, the King of the Show” RAMOS was declared: “Free without charge.”
In the annex I have attached a copy of the quick and absolute ruling, signed by Federal Judge Dr. Víctor Hermes BRUSA.
The luck that ran through the Reinforced Infantry Guard (Concentration Camp) was a far cry from the judicial complacence that my kidnappers, abusers and torturers enjoyed.
Disappeared: without cause, without due process and without the right to a trial. Not even a minimal right to a defense. No one to hear me, no one able to explain such brutality. These same judges denied petitions for habeas corpus that our family members filed on behalf of the Detained-Disappeared
One of these “Habeas Corpus” petitions is particularly illustrative: he was deprived of his liberty on May 9, 1976, at approximately 4 pm, by a group of police officers dressed in civilian attire. This clearly constituted a “illegal deprivation of liberty” on the part of an “Illicit Association.”
The judge responded: “informed the Regional Headquarters…
El Juzgado responde : "...requerido informe a la Jefatura de la Unidad Regional 1...resultando del mismo Agustín María VANETTI fue detenido por personal de dicha Unidad , se encontraba bajo el control operacional de Fuerzas del Ejército, cumpliendo órdenes del Jefe de la misma Coronel Juan Orlando ROLÓN, encontrándose actualmente detenido a disposición de las autoridades militares del Area de Defensa 212..." "
I resolve to deny the present petition.” Signed: Instructing Judge Dr. Aldo Augusto CODERMATZ.
They knew we were “at the disposal of the Military Authority of Defense Area 212” as evidenced by the 14 copies of Habeas Corpus petitions denied by various Instructing Judges, attached in the annex.
They decided not to investigate.
They did not investigate the criminals of Defense Area 212 (in order to protect them); nor did they investigate what happened to the victims for two principal motives: impunity and concealment.
Between August and October, the minors received different visitors. First we were interviewed on an individual basis by the Chaplain of the Provincial Police, Gentile Carmelo GUADAGNOLI (class 1934- M.I. 6.220.258), deemed “Official Assistant” by the Province (according to official documents, attached in the annex) and ordained by the Catholic Church.
He tricked me and in the first meeting, I denounced the illegal detention, the abuse, the torture and the deplorable living conditions. Astonished, I hear Father GUADAGNOLI justifying all each of these atrocities, and further threatened me.
Using Nazi theories to support his argument, he verbally abused Jewish people and, in particular, my friend Viviana Cazoll.
In the visits that followed (more than six), he impudently argues that I should “confess the truth.” He then began to interrogate me in a threatening tone regarding my activities in the Student Center, the activists that I knew, etc.
The same questions I refused to answer to the gang of torturers.
Three or four months later, he was promoted to “Principal Officer” by the Provincial Governor, Jorge A. Desimoni, by Decree 109 of January 2, 1977, despite having been denounced to the authorities by the victims, our parents and institutions, such as the International Red Cross.
One night, it was unbearably hot. At times, the heat of the Santa Fe summer can reach 48C.
It should be pointed out that we were completely shut inside and cramped together, without any ventilation. We were about 65 women in total (two elderly women, 6 minors, 7 pregnant women, and 50 adolescents), surviving inside a space of 65m2. That is about 1m2 per person.
One of the pregnant women, Cintia Visiglio, fainted because of the heat and lack of air. The climate became tense and the security guards decided to take us out to the patio. Using their weapons, they order us to walk in a circle and number ourselves.
When we walk out to the patio, I felt the immensity of the night as I had never felt it before. Away from the cracked and yellowed ceiling, I open myself to the sky/heaven?
The night went on, the circle went on and the security guards … We saw them form a type of firing squad. Hot and vulnerable, after 15 minutes of fresh air and fear, we return to the rooms.
That October, we (i.e. the minors) had one other significant and relevant visitor. They brought be to the office of VILLALBA on the ground floor – the nerve center where decisions were made.
There, someone presented himself to me as a psychiatrist. I immediately denounce my illegal kidnapping and detention (at that time I was a “disappeared”), the sadist treatment, the painful and inhumane living conditions, and the humiliating and ferocious torture to which I was subjected.
The supposed psychologist began to laugh, in the style of a joker, and he said, “I want to hear about other things.”
He began to ask me about my activities in school and at the Student Center. At no point in the meeting did this fraud try to reassure me, listen to me or address my anguish for all that I had experienced.
I later I learned that he had come to evaluate “the case of the minors” and in accordance with his fraudulent character, he decided to move the “case” to the National Executive Power (“P.E.N.”).
The physical, emotional and functional description of the fake “psychologist” coincides with the description of Federal Judge Dr. Víctor Hermes BRUSA.
The third Sunday in October, 1976, which happened to be Mother’s Day, I had my first visitor after having been illegally deemed “detained—disappeared” for nearly three months. The visit was in the office of Crio. Ppal. VILLALBA, and we were given 10 measly but wonderful minutes. We were not allowed to kiss, hug or touch each other.
Though a desk separated us and security guards were present, they saw me and said: “Luckily, you are now under the control of the National Executive Power” – or rather, VIDELA, MASSERA and AGOSTI. One can realize my previous situation
On December 8, 1976, the day of the Virgen, we had our first Mass in the patio, which was performed by Monseñor Zaspe. They made us form three single file lines: one for the minors, another for the pregnant women and another for the young adults.
I remember that our legs hurt, given that we had been practically immobile for almost 4 months – in handcuffs and prohibited even from standing except to use the bathroom.
It was obvious that we were malnourished and that our general health was awful. It was also obvious that there were pregnant girls and that we were minors because we didn’t have the face or the body of an adult.
On the terrace of the first floor a group of uniformed men held their weapons pointed at us, and did not flinch until the ceremony had ended. Mass for “disappeared”: no communion, no confession, and in the custody of armed officials pointing their weapons at us.
I remember that Monseñor Zaspe interviewed the Crio. Ppal. VILLALBA, and attempted to intercede in order to improve our general situation.
Each time he could, he graciously interceded – before the Armed Forces, the Federal Court and the Provincial Police – in an attempt to defend our rights. In the annex I have attached an official letter from the Archbishop.
The second and long-awaited visit with my parents occurred on Christmas Eve, 1976. It was held on the patio and lasted 30 minutes. This time we were allowed to touch and speak to each other. It was the first time someone told me about something from the outside, and then I realized the brutal isolation we were in.
We didn’t have access to a radio, a newspaper, a clock, a window – nothing connected us to the outside world except for our memory. They told me they had left Christmas foods but by the time the guards had revised and handed me the package, the foods had been stolen. Though common practice among the guards, this was especially outrageous in light of that particular “Christmas celebration.”
That night, Crio. Ppal. VILLALBA paid us a surprise visit in order to “greet us and wish us a Merry Christmas.”
How pathetic. In my right hand I had a “bolo” – in order to salute the men in solidarity – and with fear and conviction, I clenched my fist and crushed the “bolo” between my fingers, just loud enough that the cynical salutador did not notice.
It was my first Christmas in that hellhole and I naively thought that we would be able to stay awake until midnight. Though they ordered us to sleep at 9 pm, our rebellion was to stay awake and salute each other at midnight, no matter what.
I had my third visit with my parents on December 31, 1976. It, too, was on the patio and the same as the previous. They brought me food, which the guards stole, we went to bed early but didn’t fall asleep, we saluted each other at midnight. But this time we got out of bed when the New Year’s bells rang. We gathered in the room leading to the “patio of weapons.”
We were saluting each other when suddenly machine gun fire embedded the wall of leading to the patio. We instantaneously threw ourselves to the ground until the guards stopped shooting. Luckily there were no injuries.
The combination of alcohol and power in the hands of repressors is always dangerous.
So began 1977...
New year, new authorities.
Out went VILLALBA and in came Deputy Commissioner of the Provincial Police Headquarters, Juan Calixto PERIZZOTTI, (class 1936-M.I. 6.229.811, Record 314.340), along with a new style – more austere, almost minimal and terribly privative.
He denied us the few daily indoor activities we had. He imposed “hours of silence” during which we were prohibited from speaking for hours on end, making us even more irritable inside our cage.
They moved the five minors (myself included) into a room (2m x 4m) that had two bunks and a bench, one door that was permanently closed, and a welded-shut, dark balancin.
The entire cell was painted an oppressive blue. One of the walls smelled awful and was so damp that we could not lean against it without getting wet. We had only 4m2 to move around, and of the five adolescents we were, one (Cecilia Mazzetti) was more than 6 months pregnant.
Between the 24 and 25th of February 1977, “operation make-up” began. A few days later we found out what it’s cynical objective was.
Reduced to servitude, they forced us to clean until we could clean no more. We washed walls, floors, bathroom fixtures, bunks, and much more, until they sparkled. The food changed, and for the first time in eight months we were given milk and tea, day-old bread (for breakfast and in the early evening), and pureed potatoes with milanesas made from cow stomach (for lunch and dinner).
Though today I would reject without a moment’s hesitation, that food was like a delicacy in those conditions.
It was clear that they were childishly attmepting to mask the obvious: the awful and inhumane living conditions of the “concentration camps” under the dictatorship.
On February 27, 1977, the International Red Cross came to the Reinforced Infantry Guard.
Although I knew I was risking my life, as I was in a “concentration camp” during a military dictatorship, I volunteered to interview with a Swiss delegate as the representative of my companions.
This critical interview took place in the office of the Senior Guard. I denounced, “kidnappings, illegal detentions without cause or due process, torture, and harassment and abuse in all cases.”
I remarked that despite being at the disposal of the National Executive Power, we were living in inhumane conditions: we were not given a recess, and we had not visited the patio or seen the sun for nearly 8 months.
We had no contact with the outside world (no radio, newspaper, magazine, book, or paper and pencil; we were not allowed to receive or send letters; etc.).
Nor were we given regular visits with our family members. Nor was their adequate medical attention and services. The hygienic conditions were paltry (we lacked food, sunlight, physical space, ventilation, hot water, etc.). We didn’t have anything to do – nothing to read, nothing to work on, no games to play, etc.
The delegates promised to attempt to provide for our needs, to intervene so that our living conditions would improve. They also assured me they would safeguard me from “reprisal” for having spoken up and denounced our daily suffering.
It was only my first complaint. Sadly, it was not my last, as I would have liked. This first interview was certified by the High Commissioner of the International Red Cross, and is attached in the annex.
Over the next two months, approximately, our living conditions changed for the better: we were given a daily recess of one hour on the patio; we were allowed a one hour weekly visit with our family members; we were permitted to read only the Bible (the Jews, Protestants, Evangelicals and atheists were not taken into account); we were allowed to work on ceramic projects; and they cracked opened up the skylight.
What didn’t change, however, was the policy of isolation and alienation: we were not given access to a newspaper or the radio; we were not allowed to write letters to our families; and we did not receive medical attention.
Nor did the treatment we received from the guards change – they continued to take the few things our parents so desperately wanted us to have, the cookies, chocolates, and cigarettes, the mundane worldly pleasures that would have been the best sustenance we could have had.
I remember that months later, a group of female companions (Anatilde BUGNA; Patricia TRABA; Silvia ABDOLATIF; Ana María CAMARA, and more) came to the “concentration camp” to be “interrogated” by the Secretary of the Federal Court, Dr. Víctor Hermes BRUSA, (and Federal Judge in Santa Fe), who treated them in a mocking and threatening manner.
While he “interrogated” them, he kicked them as one would in Karate. He was accompanied by “personnel from Area 212,” a euphemism for that notorious “gang.” He had in his control the “declarations” taken by torture in another concentration camp called “The little house” ( which has not yet been found).
These companions had been kidnapped for more than one week and submitted to torture, harassment and abuse of all shades (including sexual) in that small house somewhere in Santo Tomé.
All of this is certified in the complaints my companions later filed in September 1984 before the National Commission for Disappeared Persons, attached in the annex.
Frightened, we are forced to attend a complex and repugnant conspiracy. The collusion was between the Federal Court, managed by Dr. MANTARAS and his sidekick Secretary BRUSA, our kidnappers, torturers, abusers and assassins (who called themselves the “Gang”), and their masters from “Area 212.”
The same Dr. MANTARAS and Dr. BRUSA were going to take “declarations” or “evaluate cases” or “squeeze” the illegal places (i.e. Fourth Station and the Reinforced Infantry Guard), “detained-disappeared” people, and those who were illegally imprisoned.
The “squeezed” those who had been detained so that they would incriminate themselves for crimes they did not commit, or simply never occurred.
We (the victims) were ignored, quieted and threatened if we attempted to incriminate the criminals who actually committed crimes. They reached an extreme of witnessing torture.
In order to administer “justice,” those who had participated in “illegal declarations,” taken in “illegal locations” using “illegal methods” were deemed accomplices, thereby inhibiting them from ever receiving justice.
Of course, without the help and active participation of the Federal Court, many of these crimes would never have been committed. As a result, the detained victims and our family members were demoralized.
We could not file a complaint with a court of justice regarding the illegal detentions, kidnappings, torture, harassment, and subhuman conditions we were subjected to.
One day there was some movement (“Personnel from Area 212” were going in and out). I went to throw the garbage away, accompanied by Maria Eva AEBI, one of the women who had been interrogated by the sidekick BRUSA, and I was able to see him very clearly. I immediately remembered the supposed “psychologist.”
The deception or disappointment was a double blow...
One summer day, they brought in a kidnapped woman and her child. She was about 40 years old, with robust features and swarthy complexion, straight dark hair and she wore a black dress.
Her son was 6 years old. They lived in the suburbs, i.e. the rural area. The next day they left, and the guards told us there were set free.
Ten or twelve days later, they brought the child back, without his mother. We nicknamed him “Franki.” He refused to bathe but after playing with him for a while, I finally convinced him.
I bathed him, and when I cleaned his behind I saw that he had been injured. He began to cry uncontrollably and told me that he had been molested/raped many, many times by the police officers and men at the Fourth Station.
That’s why he didn’t want anyone to touch him. That was perhaps the most inconsolable cry I have ever experienced. All I could do was kiss him.
He lived with us for ten or fifteen days before he was taken away.
His mother later informed me that he was “moved to the Fourth Station.”
I think he remains “disappeared.”
I had been detained (in the RIG) for just over one year when they came to take my “declaration” for the first time. I was taken to the “office” of PERIZZOTTI, which meant I was in the heart of the camp/field.
Various civilians without identification badges presented themselves as “Personnel from Area 212” (i.e. the “Gang,” or rather, band of unscrupulous torturers and paid assassins).
By their voices (that even today I would recognize without hesitation), the language they used, and the arrogant, rowdy way they asked questions, I dare to recognize them as my torturers.
They tried uselessly to incriminate me for events beyond my knowledge, and I resisted. The climate grew tense, they screamed insult after insult and banged the desk with their fists. I thought they would abuse me again. No one hit me.
The torture chosen for the occasion was psychological.
Also present was María Eva AEVIS, from the Provincial Police. Each time she could, she chimed in: “You have political amnesia, you will see,” she said in a clear and threatening tone.
Especially for those who know to what lengths these dangerous criminals will go to and just how cruel they can be.
Finally, after hours of psychological pressure, more insults and threats, I signed my sole declaration, after a total of: three months of disappearance, and 2 years and 2 months of being under the control of the National Executive Power.
In other words, 29 months of the unlawful deprivation of liberty, as stated in the official document of the Argentine state, attached in the annex.
That declaration has no more than six lines: my personal information (name, address, parents, etc.); and a statement I made “that I do not know the reasons for my detention or why I am placed in those quarters,” something they completely exhausted.
I remember that when I had to sign, I asked to read the document. I traced a continuous line at the end of the last point and signed with a running line, so as to prevent them from adding anything beyond what I had declared.
Meanwhile, they confirmed that the purpose of this investigation was to determine who would be set free and who would stay, thereby proving the decisive and proactive role that “the Gang” played in our repression, as well as the coordination with the “Commander of Area 212.” This was how Grisel D. (17) and Víctor A. (16) were set free in mid-October 1977.
On September 8, 1977, my father, Miguel Angel ISASA, wrote a letter to Admiral Emilio Eduardo MASERA, Commander-in-Chief of the Argentine Navy and member of the “Junta,” alongside VIDELA and AGOSTI.
Putting his own life at risk, he denounced my situation as a violation of all legal and human rights. On September 28, 1977, the Assistant Secretary to the Major General of the Argentine Navy, Frigate Captain, Hector Horacio GONZALEZ, replied to my father’s letter, “the navy has no records of this case, however it will continue to investigate the matter.”
The case was: my kidnapping, torture, disappearance and subsequent appearance in a concentration camp held by the National Executive Power.
In the annex I have attached a copy of the unedited response of the Navy, signed by hand and on official letterhead. I have also attached the envelope it came in and the official postal stamp that my father frightfully received.
In mid-November of 1977, the Coronel Juan Orlando ROLÓN, the “Boss of Military Defense Area 212” came to the camp to “interview” me (as verified by judicial documents attached in the annex).
They brought me to the notorious “office” of PERIZZOTTI, where the “Boss of Area 212,” dressed in Gala attire, greeted me.
He launched into a hypocritical monologue, “I gather they have treated you well.”
To which I responded with a clear and effusive negative gesture, which I didn’t think could emanate from inside me.
I started to speak to him, denouncing to him what I had denounced to some many people and institutions that were willing to hear me, while imprisoned and at the cost of my own life (kidnapping, unlawful arrest, torture, imprisonment without just cause or due process, and subhuman living conditions).
He interrupted me to say: “I don’t know what happened to you, you must tell no one else… If you are freed, you must forget about everything.”
He conditioned my freedom on my silence.
That was the first time I hear that “order,” which of course I did not fulfill. Coronel Juan Orlando ROLÓN made it very clear that his impunity had an uncompromising/unbribable limit, my memory.
It was not happenstance that in my kidnappings that followed, they insisted repeatedly, “that I stay quiet… that I do not talk… that I forget.”
Military officers of Area 212 summoned my parents, Miguel Angel ISASA and Bella Rosa Vergara de ISASA, and said, “It is possible she will be freed, but… it depends on you (i.e. my parents) that nothing else will happen to her.”
They wanted to transfer responsibility to my parents, to hold them responsible for upholding their criminal methods and objectives.
The Argentine state and those that led the attack on March 24, 1976 (the Armed Forces and its henchmen) are exclusively responsible for the atrocities that happened to me.
Moreover, they wanted my parents to transform themselves into my jail-keepers, telling them, “If you do not collaborate, the next time we will take all of you, we will wipe out/erase your daughter and you.”
For years my mother repeated that phrase with terror...
I was still 17 years old and I had been in the Reinforced Infantry Guard for 17 months.
In the afternoon of Christmas Eve of 1977, they ordered me to pack my bag; they brought me to the patio; I find my parents waiting there and we are all brought to the office.
There, Juan Calixto PERIZZOTTI told me that I could leave on probation (“monitored freedom”), which meant that I would continue to be at the disposal of the National Executive Power and was allowed to move only within the central radius of the city.
I had to present myself to the “Commander of Area 212” once a week for three months, then one time per month, until I eventually would receive “total freedom.”
I left the RIG, I left death, and I came to life...
I wanted to forget all the outrageous horror, but because of my solidarity to my companions and the subsequent atrocities that took place prevented me from doing so.
We were all “sucked” (kidnapped) from our homes, or our jobs, or simply from the street, and brought initially to be “softened up” (through beatings and the psychological torture of solitary confinement) at the First Station, the Fourth Station or The Little House.
We were all tortured in clandestine information centers (i.e., The Little House, the Fourth Station, the Investigation Brigade). We were all “disappeared” (The Little House, the First Station, the Fourth Station, the U.D.A. House, the Reinforced Infantry Guard). Then, we all “appeared” and were placed at the disposal of the National Executive Power for years.
As if by the art of magic, some “appeared” in National Penitentiaries, hundreds of kilometers away from the place of their kidnapping, and months after their “disappearance.”
In the Devoto Prison or in the Coronda Prison, they lived in such unbearable conditions that some died (like “El Negro” Hormaeche) and others committed suicide.
The majority resisted as much as they could.
Every rule has its exceptions.
Viviana Cazoll (16); Grisel Droz (17); Cecilia Mazzetti (pregnant) (17); María de los Milagros Almirón (14); Victor Astesiano (15) and me, Patricia Isasa (16), “appeared” in the camp where had “disappeared,” the RIG.
Something really unprecedented in the annals of dictatorial repression in Argentina.
In that way, the hellhole/pit had “only” six detainees, held at the disposal of the National Executive Power, despite the fact that more than 150 men and women had entered as “disappeared.”
The paradox was that the only “appeared” people, i.e. the only “legal” detainees, were minors, but because of that “legality” we should have been in Youth Centers (i.e. juvenile hall), not in concentration camps.
Of course, not all of us have the same “luck.” (not all of us get lucky??)
My companions from the Superior Industrial School were kidnapped in mid 1977 and taken from their homes in Santo Tomé (two kilometers from Santa Fe), or from the downtown streets of Santa Fe, as witnessed by various people: Alberto Solé (19). Aldo Partida (18) and Néstor Hugo Cherri (18).
All of them remain “disappeared.”
The plan for them was similar (kidnapping, torture and disappearance) but led to a different outcome...
On January 2, 1978, I had my first meeting with the “Commander of Defense Area 212” and was accompanied by my parents. They were not allowed to enter with me.
I walked into the Artillery Command 121, the seat of Defense Area 212, full of doubt, until they made me enter an office.
He entered with a martial stride. I saw and heard him for the first time. I was so worried my jaw had dropped.
That high-ranking military officer gave his outrageous monologue: “We are experiencing the third world war. This war is with Communism – financed by the International Synarchy (i.e. the Jews) and supported spiritually by the Devil. All those against Occidental and Christian society.”
Giving his speech this mentally sick man seemed like “saint of war,” he felt like a “crusader.”
The problem was that this interlocutor was not a patient of a psychiatric institution, but a military officer in training, with ample decision-making power.
I had to listen to him, as well as other delirious people, for months. His discourse was more like a clinical problem than a political position of a governmental agent.
It would have been funny if it hadn’t encapsulated the tragic representation of the majority’s thought/view: his military comrades (Cnel.s Rolón, Ramirez, etc.); his colleagues at the Intelligence Department (Inspector Pallavidini, Officer Ramos, etc.); his subordinates at the Police Department (Commissioner Villalba, Commissioner Perizzotti, etc.); his clerical aids (Father Guadagnoli, etc.); and his accomplices in the Federal Courts (Dr. Mantarás; Dr. Brusa; etc., as well as the Instructing Judges.
All of the participants were necessary to carry out the criminal plan of the dictatorship, the “National Reorganization Process./Proceeding”
The military officer reiterated threats and said, “Do not talk.” He repeated some telephone conversations I had had, to make it clear that they were tapping my phone, and to emphasize the sense of control he felt over my words and actions.
They opened/intercepted the mail correspondence I kept with a companion I had in captivity, Grisel (freed in October 1977, residing in the Catamarca Province). This happened again, nine months later, with a few small differences.
Even though I received threats and warnings of all types and tenor, even though I was only 17 years old, and even though I had been detained for 17 months and was still under the control of the National Executive Power, I decided to visit the family members of some of my detained companions.
I also wrote to Grisel and visted Viviana Cazoll. They claimed their house was their prison and their parents, their keepers – another military invention/tactic to bind the innocent under the repressive scheme, and to dilute their true and non-delegable responsibilities.
Around mid March 1978, I tried to take up my studies at the Superior Industrial School, after having been forced to leave them. I wanted to study Technical Construction, and then study Civil Engineering or Architecture.
A vocation based purely on constructive and restorative activity...
They denied my request for “political reasons.” The Director of the high school said, “the Command of Area 212 called and had given him instructions.” Clearly, the military officers did not want me to go back to school, and I explained why I had missed so many classes/so much time.
They wanted to forget the “good deal I was given” in their concentration camp.
I completed my high school education at the public high school in General San Martin in Santa Fe, with a teaching degree.
Today I am an architect, graduate of the University of Buenos Aires...
In September of 1978, I was finally given “total freedom.”
That day I began to write a long list of all my repressors, their names and a description.
Each day I worked on this.
Each day I worked in order to have justice, hoping this would allow me to come to terms with the horrors I had experienced.
I transcribe this list here, in disbelief that they walk free among us, making it all the more urgent that this be written down in its totality:
2nd ARMY CORPS:
ZONE 2: Commander of the 2nd Army Corps
Jurisdiction: Provinces of Formosa, Chaco, Misiones, Corrientes, Entre Ríos, y Santa Fe
Seat of the Zone: Rosario (Santa Fe Province)
Commander of the 2nd Army Corps, Brigadier General Ramón Genaro DIAZ BESSONE (from 09/75 to 10/76)
Commander of the 2nd Army Corps, Division General Leopoldo Fortunato GALTIERI (from 10/76 to 01/79)
Commander of the 2nd Army Corps, Division General Luciano Adolfo JAUREGUI, (from 01/79 to 12/80)
SUBZONE 21: Sub - Commando of the 2nd Army Corps:
Jurisdiction: Province of Santa Fe
Seat of the Zone: Rosario (Santa Fe Province).
Deputy Commissioner General de Brigada Andrés Aníbal FERRERO (from 02/76 to 11/77)
Sub-Cdte.General de Brigada Luciano Adolfo JAUREGUI (from 01/78 to 01/79)
Sub-Cdte. General de Brigada José Luis SEXTON (from 01/79).
DEFENSE AREA 212 :
Seat of the Zone: Santa Fe (Capital).
Jurisdiction: Santa Fe and adjacent departments
Coronel José María GONZALEZ (from early 76’ until the end of 76’).
Coronel Juan Orlando ROLÓN (from early 76’ until the end of 78’).
FEDERAL COURT OF SANTA FE:
Judge Dr. MANTARAS
Secretary Dr. Víctor Hermes BRUSA. Actual juez federal de Santa Fe.
Provincial Police Headquarters
Boss/Chief, Coronel Carlos Alberto RAMIREZ, (class 1927-M.I.4.038.625). Appointed by Decree 308 of May 3, 1976 by the Provincial Governo
Deputy Chief, Inspector General Nino Eugenio NOVELLI;
Principal Officer Carlos Osmar REBECHI, (class 1942 - M.I. 6.246.861 - Record 331.864).
Regional Headquarters, Chapter 1 (U.R.1.) :
Inspector General Felix MARAÑO (beginning in 76’).
Commissioner Mario José FACINO (class 1935-M.I. 6.223.472-Police Record 316.504) (appointed in 77’), promoted by Decree 4447 del 28/12/76 of the Governor of the Province of Santa Fe .
Current President of the commune "San José del Rincón" elected by the Justicialist Party, using the slogan,"Santa Fe grows"; "This is Santa Fe’s moment”; "Santa Fe first" and "October 17.”
(Chief) Inspector General of the Provincial Police Felix PALLAVIDINI, (class 1922-M.I.3.162.960).
Provincial Police Officer Eduardo Alberto "Gerardo" or “the King " or "Kingpin" RAMOS, (class 1955-M.I. 11.555.259, Police Record 279.683). Current employee of the Santa Fe Municipality, appointed by Decree 1104 del 4/07/85.
Senior Commissioner Lisandro Mario KAUFMANN (class 1933- M.I. 6.331.447). Promoted to Inspector Commissioner by Decree 4447 del 28/12/76’ of the Provincial Governor.
Provincial Police Officer Luis Alberto "Jorge" OLIVERA, (class 1955- D.N.I. 11.658.316-Record 274.642).
Deputy Commissioner Mario José FACINO (class 1935-M.I. 6.223.472- Police Record 316.504). Current President of the commune "San José del Rincón" elected by the Justicialist Party, using the slogan,"Santa Fe grows"; "This is Santa Fe’s moment”; "Santa Fe first" and "October 17.”
Deputy Commissioner Germán Raúl CHARTIER (class 1932-M.I. 6.211.880).
Senior Officer Carlos Osmar REBECHI, (class 1942 - M.I. 6.246.861 - Record 331.864) of the Provincial Police Headquarters.
Provincial Police Officer Eduardo Alberto "Gerardo" or “the King" or "Kingpin" RAMOS, (class 1955-M.I. 11.555.259, Police Record 279.683). Current employee of the Santa Fe Municipality, appointed by Decree 1104 del 4/07/85.
Provincial Police Officer Juan Eduardo ’the Pink Panther’ GONZALEZ (class 1951-M.I. 8.584.939, Record 283.243).
Provincial Police Agent Víctor Hugo CABRERA (class 1953-M.I 10.874.541 Police Record 265.273).
Auxiliary Officer Hector Romeo "Chicken" COLOMBINI, (class 1950 M.I. 7.891.397 Record 366.412) of the Provincial Police Headquarters. Current personnel of the “Dangerous Drugs Division” of the Santa Fe Provincial Police.
Reinforced Infantry Guard:
Senior Commissioner José Alberto Patricio VILLALBA, (class 1934-M.I. 6.220.154). Boss of the Reinforced Infantry Guard between 24/03/76’, and 31/12/76’.
Inspector Commissioner Jorge MARQUEZ.
LUNA (right-hand man of Villalba).
María Eva AEBIS (Secretary to Villalba and later to Perizzotti).
Senior Commissioner Juan Calixto PERIZZOTTI (class 1936-M.I. 6.229.811, Record 314.340), Boss of the R.I.G. successor to Villalba 01/01/77 until the end of 78’.
Eduardo José "Skinny" CORDOBA (class 1948-M.I. 6.308.170) Chauffer y Security Guard from 03/76’ until 12/76’.
RIOS (Boss of the Security Guards from 03/76’ to 01/77).
Eduardo José "Skinny" CORDOBA (class 1948-M.I. 6.308.170) Chauffer y Security Guard from 03/76’ until 12/76’.
He chauffeured the detained. Boss of the Security Guards 01/77 to the end of 78’ appointed by Decree 609 of 3/05/76’ of the Provincial Governor
Alberto LOCADITO (Security Guard).
Teresa del Carmen ’Babis’ SPINGOLA (class 1939-M.I.3.988.596) Security Guard, appointed by Decree 609 of 3/05/76’ of the Provincial Governor.
Graciela ’Choca’ OCHOA (Security Guard).
Graciela ARRIETA (Security Guard).
Blanca YOSEN (Security Guard).
Mercedes "Red" ó "Fatty" (Security Guard).
Marta "la Marta" (Security Guard).
Many of these people currently hold positions in the Provincial Police of Santa Fe. Others have retired. However, they have not been judged in a court of law, nor sentenced – they enjoy total impunity, at the Provincial and National level.
They were just one small piece/brick in the firing squad of the “dirty was against society.” Over the course of the dictatorship, approximately 30,000 people were disappeared, 10,000 were held as political prisoners, 2,000 were murdered, 500 newborns were stolen, and thousands fled the country in exile.
They nearly led us to war with Chile.
The only “legitimate” war that was fought was that in the Falkland Islands. There, the military command/leadership was better prepared to fight “clean,” as opposed to using the cattle prods, the hoods and the desk/office.”
There were no low-ranking officers.Approximately 2,000 people that were 18 years old died in that war..."CLEAN WAR???... .
At dawn on July 1, 1979, a bomb exploded in the Federal Court of Santa Fe, located at 9 de Julio 1695, scarcely 50 meters from the Police Training School.
At that time, the School an armed watchman stationed at the sidewalk entrance. There were posters warning, “turn on the interior lights of your car, if the guard opens fire.”
Next to the yellow sign was a black silhouette of a soldier held at gunpoint. This order was directed to the individual cars driving on 9 de Julio. I also remember that the guards would aim a reflector light a the “suspicious” cars, i.e. those cars that the prejudicial guards deemed suspicious.
I was 19 then. I was living with my parents and finishing up school.
The next day, July 2, 1979, at about noon, uniformed personnel of the Provincial Police arrested me without a warrant. They shoved me into a patrol car and sped towards and unknown destination.
After a few minutes, we arrived to the back entrance of the Reinforced Infantry Guard, close to where the Command Radio was located.
There they took me out of the car, hooded be and brought me to the first floor. I entered a place I had never been. It was about 6m x 9m and faced the “block” where the men were detained.
They admit me, stil l “hooded,” sit me down and cuff my hands behind my back. I could tell there were about 14 to 18 people surrounding me, all of them seated, cuffed and hooded, and we were separated by some type of paneling.
We were not allowed to speak – the silence was tense. A thousand images raced through my mind.
Standing in front of me (which I could see through the bottom opening of the hood), was a thin, fair-skinned woman dressed in black.
The daily regimen was simple and destructive. We were kept hooded all of the time and in the same position (sitting, hands cuffed behind our backs and against the wall); we heard only the footsteps of the Guards as they came to take each person to “the back room” to “interrogate” them.
When they came close, I prayed it was not my turn. When they left, I relaxed and felt a moment of joy, which was immediately followed by another guard approaching, in order to grab another detainee and drag him away.
The sound was despairing, nearly unbearable. It was an overwhelming routine without pause, that lead only to torture.
I was in state of extreme vigilance with each passing footstep. The silence was thick, profound, and as a result, I could hear sounds from far away. Each second lasted forever – perhaps because of that, each second was inerasable.
The door would open and close slowly and gratingly. Orders were sent through the intercom, and the monotonous response would come, “Yes, affirmative.”
The voices were not always the same but each was familiar. They were all unforgettable voices.
They force-fed us, as if we were plants, sitting there quietly in our assigned boxes. Every once in a while they gave us some liquid to keep us alive. We were something living but more of a thing than a person.
Remember, we were still hooded, handcuffed, weak and with little sense of equilibrium. The food we were given was “soup” and the liquid was not water.
A few times we were able to use a bathroom; if the Guard decided, he/she would bring us to the restroom. In the bathrooms, there were about 10 detained-disappeared being held.
They would make me wait at the door while they moved the detainees.
José Luis Toledo was there, blindfolded, handcuffed and immobile.
After a while they made me stand and I was taken in tow through the hallway to the room where I had been detained in 1976 and 1977. They sat me down at the table where I ate during those years. Of course I remembered the place instantly.
They began to torture me psychologically. They had two objectives: gather information and exivir my “auto-attack” (transgression, impunity and power).
First, they asked about my visits to the parents of my companions who were still detained – throwing in insults and threats between each question. It is worth remembering that, at that time, the family members were deemed suspicious, and therefore marginalized and persecuted by the regime.
It is also worth pointing out that, to these criminals, “solidarity” was something they viewed as suspect and worthy of being punished.
At the same time, they contradictorily and schizophrenically accused me of having put a bomb in the Federal Court, only to immediately tell me in full detail that they themselves had put the bomb there.
They said they had gone in the night, in a blue car, and placed the bomb.
It was clear that it was an “auto-attack” and that the people arrested that day were only scapegoats (Viviana Cazoll; José Luis Toledo; Raúl Viso; and myself).
It was all so pathetic that I couldn’t think of anything to say in my semi-delirious state, somewhere between wonder and silence.
Each one of the five “interrogations” (psychological torture) I had lasted for hours. I do not rule out that the Secretary of the Court, Dr. Víctor Hermes BRUSA, was present each time, as he was so many times before.
In the last “interrogation” I felt completely overwhelmed (I hadn’t slept or eaten, my mind was far from calm) and without thinking, I said, “Enough! Enough with all of this, if you want to kill me, kill me… I’ve had enough.”
I was exhausted.
I couldn’t take any more accusations for having done something they themselves admitted to doing, nor their violent anger towards my solidarity with my companions and their families.
The “interrogation” stopped. I later realized that they could have killed me then, I could have been “disappeared” at age 19.
One day they carried me to the guard and say me down. Before me, a familiar voice said, “take off the hood, you knows who I am.”
In that environment, it felt like a death sentence.
I discovered it was Juan Calixto PERIZZOTTI.
With difficulty, I ate some soup, because I was very faint and had lost all notion of time and space. After I finished eating, they put the hood back on and carried me to the block – the same one described above.
The paradox was that when they put the hood back on, I felt more alive. It could be that in those Camps, the “hood” they used was that which we face in society.
It could be, despite being reduced to an almost vegetable state, they had me completely immersed in infinite fear.
I felt panic for my convictions, my resistance, because I knew they would not forget me, that I would denounce them and demand justice.
Because they did not detain me for a cowardly hit-and-run accident, but for my struggle.
In time, they woke me and brought me to the guard. They removed the handcuffs and the hood, and brought me to the Boss’s office. I walked slowly down the stairs, knowing that this was “luck or truth/truth or dare?.”
The same Juan Calixto PERIZZOTTI presented himself and said, “You are free.”
My parents came in and, joined by a hug, we left. They had been looking for me for days and it was the same Senior Commissioner Juan Calixto PERIZZOTTI that had denied having detained me there.
I left believing this was the last time, but I was wrong.
I think that only four of the 30 people detained, left there alive.
I was 19, had been disappeared for three months and subjected to the National Executive Power for 26 months.
I intended to live in peace.
In October of 1979, I was in the car with my parents and some friends from school (Adriana ILLESCAS, Ana María D’ALESSANDRO; Graciela PRIETTO) heading towards one of their houses. We were all dressed in our school uniform because we had just left school.
A patrol car stopped us on the beltway in the Centenario neighborhood, in the city of Santa Fe. They asked for my identification and car registration, which I handed them. Both were completely in order and up to date.
Out of the patrol car came María Eva AEVI, and I began to fear the worst. She recognized me immediately and decided to arrest all of us.
I was retaliated against simply for having been detained, and my friends for having been with me at that particular moment.
They brought us to the Police Headquarters in Santa Fe. They left us in the clerk’s room. They isolated me, however, and brought me to a different room. There, a member of the “Gang” enters; he threatened me, “Be careful, because the next time…”
This allowed me to recognize the error for what it was.
This and other “errors” they had committed and would continue to commit – simply because no one is perfect, and if they were, they would be infallible.
There is no “terror machine” that can never fail, that does not contain contradictions.
Nothing is infallible and indestructible.
After a few hours they set us free and return my car, my notebooks and my things – they had looted everything. It was the first time that I thought, “this isn’t the last time” and “it would be better to move somewhere else.”
In January 1981, at the age of 20, I moved to Buenos Aires alone.
I returned to Santa Fe for the first time in July, full of nostalgia. I greeted my family and in the evening went on a walk through the downtown.
I happened to run into a guy I went to school with at the Superior Industrial School Enrique Mario YURCOVICH, who was my school friend. They invited me to coffee and we went to a nearby bar. As we were leaving, I saw a yellow Ford Falcon drive by, and two men with weapons, dressed as civilians, got out.
They pointed their weapons at us, yelling in the middle of the street and shoved us into the car (a typical street arrest). They brought us to the Police Headquarters.
There they left me in the “piojera” of the basement (a small dirty cell, in total darkness). After a few hours the brought me to the ground floor, where a member of the “Gang” appeared.
I recognized him as one of my torturers by his voice, his disparaging way of treating me, his pathetic speech. Standing before me was “the Chicken,” who, in an abuse of impunity, showed his face openly.
He asked me about my activities in Buenos Aires and said, reiterating his threats, “Be careful, we are now in the Dangerous Drugs and Personal Security Division].”
He was Auxiliary Officer of the Provincial Police Headquarters, Hector Romeo “Chicken” COLOMBINI (class 1950 M.I. 7.891.397 Record 366.412), certified by Decree 4851 of 21/12/77’ of the Provincial Governor.
It is possible that he had a different ranking in 1981.
A while later they brought me to the “Women’s Transitory Station” (the place were common prisoners were held), located at San Lorenzo 2755.
Afraid but unsurprised, I saw some jailkeepers that had been at the Reinforced Infantry Guard.Maria Eva AEBI
Two days (48 hours) later, after having been illegally arrested without just cause or due process, I was freed. I was 21 years old.
I went back to Buenos Aires, where I have lived for 18 years. Them I went to London...
I returned to Santa Fe in September of 1997, for family reasons.
Here are some example of the “friction” caused by the daily impunity these criminal enjoyed, and just how much they “irritated/provoked” those living in Santa Fe, as well as all citizens with goodwill.
I encountered the man who had recently “interrogated, threatened, tortured and ignored the claims of the detained-disappeared held in the clandestine camps”: the Federal Judge.
Dr. Víctor Hermes BRUSA, continued as Federal Judge in Santa Fe, en funciones, con pedido de Juicio Político (impeachment order).
The members of the “torture Gang” remained employees of the Police. Los integrantes de "La Patota torturadora y desaparecedora" , son los Funcionarios de Dependencias Estratégicas Policiales de hoy:
Auxiliary Officer of the Provincial Police Headquarters, Hector Romeo “Chicken” COLOMBINI (class 1950 M.I. 7.891.397 Record 366.412), was part of the Dangerous Drug Division personnel in Santa Fe.
The famous “kidnapper, thief, and torturer” remained an employee of the Municipality (in violation of Law 9.286), as well as member of the Justicialist Party.
Similarly, Provincial Police Officer Eduardo Alberto "Gerardo" or "the Kind" or "Kingpin" RAMOS (class 1955-M.I. 11.555.259, Police Record 279.683), was exonerated by the Provincial Police for “illegal deprivation of liberty and theft,” convicted in the first instance and sentenced to 16 years in prison.
He is still an employee of the Santa Fe Municipality, appointed by Decree 1104 of 4/07/85, ratified by Decree 2112 of 02/12/87 by the Mayor, contrary to Law 9.286 of 01/08/83’.
En el Anexo 1; Capítulo 2 "Ingreso"; Artículo 11: "Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding Article shall not enter the premises within the scope of this Statute:
A) would have been convicted for culpable.
Which they were exonerated in any branch of the Nation, the provinces or municipalities and communities, until they were rehabilitated.
He also tried his luck in politics:
On April 17, 1985 he became affiliated with the Justicialist Party (two months after joining the Santa Fe Municipality).
On September 8, 1991, he participated in the “Santa Fe Dignity” campaign, where he served as the primary candidate for Municipal Counselor.
Sharing the same campaign was candidate for Mayor, Mr. Hernán INGARAMO.
Commissioner Mario José FACINO (class 1935-M.I. 6.223.472-Police Record 316.504), was the man responsible for the “station and clandestine center for detention, disappearance and torture,” acting on the decisions and directives of the Regional Chapter 1.
Today he is a politician and enjoys complete immunity. His campaign slogans were:
“This is the moment for Santa Fe.” (Shared with Hector CAVALLERO, candidate for Governor.)
"October 17" (provincial elections 03/09/95)
" Santa Fe First" (Shared with Luis RUBEO, candidate for Governor.)
"Santa Fe Grows" (Community elections 28/10/97)
I wanted to testify about the horrors I experienced so that the guilty may be condemned, so that all of those who have been repressed – the disappeared, the assassinated, the kidnapped, the detained, the incarcerated, the exiled, the family members, friends and companions – may be remembered and honored for their intimate struggle. So that justice may be established/had. So that this catastrophe, of which I am a direct victim, shall NEVER be repeated.
Patricia Indiana ISASA