(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
the victims were not only taken to the limits of endurance, but
did not even understand what they were being asked - as could
happen to anyone who was totally unfamiliar with the jargon used
by the torturers. Antonio Horacio Mifio Retarnozo (file No.
3721), was abducted from his workplace in Buenos Aires on 23
August 1976. It was the usual sequence of events. First they
took him to Police Station No. 33. Then he tells us:
the station, things began normally. I was first questioned
about my full name, nom
de guerre (I didn’t know what that was), my rank in the orga (again, I didn’t know what they were talking about) and then
I was offered a passport, flight ticket and a thousand dollars
to leave the country. Not knowing what they were asking me
about and refusing to reply, the dialogue came to an end and
‘persuasion’ began. I was blindfolded and the beatings
or four people surrounded me and blows and kicks started
raining down all over my body. When I remained firm in my
refusal, they resorted to sticks and rubber truncheons. They
repeated the sequence of questioning followed by blows until
they lost patience and, in order to achieve better results,
took me, wrapped in something thick, which could well have
been a carpet, to the Federal Security Headquarters. They put
me on the floor in the back of a police car. Two or three
people trod on me so that I wouldn’t move.
the headquarters I was taken straight to the parilla
is, I was tied to the metal frame of a bed, electrodes were
attached to my hands and feet, and they ran an electric prod
all over me, with particular savagery and intensity on the
the bonds, when on the ’grill’ one jumps, twists, moves
about and tries to avoid contact with the burning, cutting
iron bars. The electric prod was handled like a scalpel and
the ’specialist’ would be guided by a doctor who would
tell him if I could take any more. After a seemingly endless
session they untied me and resumed their questioning.
would plague me with questions about the cap
of the mir. I hadn’t the faintest idea what cap
of the mir could be. I couldn’t understand any of their
jargon. And immediately I was on the ’grill’ once again,
and the questioning-electric prod-grill sessions recommenced.
They would repeat the same questions, changing the order and
wording to obtain answers and find contradictions.
was only a year-later that I learned from another prisoner
that cap of the mir referred
to the capture of the 29th Rural Infantry Regiment, which
occurred on 5 October 1975 in Formosa, a town I had lived in
all that year.
interrogation sessions later became shorter, but the electric
prod was more intense, savagely seeking out the sphincters.
The worst was having electrodes on the teeth - it felt as if a
thunderbolt was blowing your head to pieces - and a narrow
string of beads, which they put in my mouth and which were
very difficult to swallow because they induced retching and
vomiting, thus intensifying the ordeal, until finally they
forced one to swallow them. Each bead was an electrode and
when they worked it seemed like a thousand crystals were
shattering, splintering inside one and moving through the
body, cutting everywhere. They were so excruciating that one
couldn’t even scream or groan or move. They produced
convulsions which, if one hadn’t been tied down, would have
forced one into a foetal position. This left one shaking for
several hours with all one’s insides one huge wound and an
unbearable thirst, but the fear of more convulsions was
stronger, so for several days one didn’t eat or drink, in
spite of their trying to force one to do so.
day they invented new things as collective punishment. Once it
was really horrific. A person calling himself ’Lieutenant’
came and said that he was giving us military training, which
wasn’t true - we were tightly blindfolded and couldn’t
talk. There were nearly always guards there and they were
always coming and going, bringing people in and taking them
took us to what I imagine was a large room; they surrounded us
and, began to hit us all over, but especially on the elbows
and knees; we would crash into each other, blows were coming
at us from all sides, we would trip and fall. Then, when we
were completely prostrate on the floor, they started throwing
ice-cold water over us and with electric prods they would
force us to our feet and take us back to the place we had come
from. They left us all together, shaking, wet, shivering,
huddling together for warmth.
could hear them playing cards, their voices raised to drown
out the constant screams of somebody being tortured. When they
finished the game they would amuse themselves by illtreating
they took us from the ’lion’s cage’, to the
questioning-torture room, we would have to climb three steps
and go down two, or vice versa, go up two and down three, and
they would make us turn round so as to disorientate us.
night of Wednesday 1 September was transfer night for some,
and with it came additional fear and insecurity, for in those
days it was well known that they would kill prisoners during
the transfers, inventing ’shoot outs’.
were taken to a transit camp, for ’softening up’ before
being disposed of. There the torture was such that we had no
name or surname but a number. Mine was number 11 - It was like
a cellar, there were fifteen of us; I recognized Puértolas’s
voice by its high-pitched intonation, which still haunts me.
punishment was brutal. On Thursday they took me for two
sessions, and on Friday I received the most horrific beating
I’ve ever had. There was somebody on the ’grill’; it
sounded like Puértolas, although it was very difficult to
recognize his voice, we were in such a sorry state. They put
me on the bed on top of him and when they applied the electric
prod to me, he would jump too. My feet were close to a wall
and if I touched or dirtied it, or moved at all, they would
beat me on the legs.
continuous ill-treatment and death threats, Miño Retamozo was
taken to the 29th Rural Infantry Regiment.
arrived With a star billing, since in their view I was the one
who had planned the attack on the regiment.
began to work on me early on Monday, and continued morning,
noon and night. For the first few days, in between sessions, I
was tied naked to a bed, with a guard beside me and without
food. At night I would be taken to a corridor and thrown down
alongside the other prisoners, who didn’t know what to do,
wanting to move away from me through fear of being mistaken
for me and taken away in my place. At night the ’female
voice’ would arrive, a well-known officer of the Gendarmeria
(Armed border police used in rural areas) who spoke in falsetto. The first thing he would do was to stroke one’s
testicles in anticipation of the pleasure of his task.
went on for three weeks. They suffocated me with plastic bags
or by putting my head under water. They tore me apart with the
’helmet of death’ (a horrendous device full of electrodes
placed over the head), which doesn’t even allow you to say
no. Your body is racked with screams.
night they amused themselves with a boy from Las Palmas (Chaco
province) and myself. The soldiers were whiling away the time
listening to the radio; the local team Patria and Rosario
Central were playing football. Throughout the match they used
the helmet on the boy, which left him crazy for about two
weeks afterwards. Then it was my turn. During the
interrogation sessions there was always someone who would
smash the joints of one’s hands and feet with a piece of
his subsequent transfer to Formosa, Miño Retarnozo, adds:
Formosa was a town with a population of about 100,000, most of
those there knew the identity of the torturers, such as
Sergeant or Top Sergeant Eduardo Steinberg, Second Commander
Domato, and the man known as ’Death with a female voice’,
also Second Commander of the Gendarmería.
the guards were a little more,lenient, we would ask for a
bucket of water so we could wash. I nearly died the first time
I had a bath. When I took off my blindfold I could hardly
recognize myself. I was black with marks, as if I’d been
rolling in barbed wire, covered in burns from cigarettes and
the electric scalpel; I was the picture of misfortune. The
’electric scalpel’ cuts, burns and cauterizes. They hardly
used it on me, compared with Velázquez Ibarra and other
prisoners. I still have scars from it on my back. Electrodes
or scalpel? As my back was raw, my shirt would stick to it.
With the heat and dirt it had started to fester and I hadn’t
noticed. My companions, who took such care of me, called a
soldier from the infirmary to disinfect the wound.
day I finally understood the reason for my misfortunes, if one
can use the word in these cases. At break time, someone from
the cell opposite told me that Marta Infran had talked. They
had caught her and her husband. First they tortured her
husband until he was completely broken, and then killed him.
Then they started on her. At some stage she cracked, tried to
save herself, or was driven to the edge of insanity and began
to invent the most farfetched things. She sent over fifty
people to prison. She said that I had planned the attack on
the regiment, that I was active in the ’Montoneros’
organization and that they had offered me logistic backing.
had met Marta Infran in 1975, when she was nineteen and
working in a law court. We both attended the same course, in
the first year of Forestry Technology, and we were casual
was released on 6 June 1977.
this instance, a chance acquaintance, a denunciation made in a
state of delirium during the torture inflicted on Marta Infran,
was enough for Miño Retamozo to suffer the ordeal described.
significant is the testimony of Oscar Alberto Paillalef (file
No. 6956) of General Roca (Río Negro province).
Paillalef was summoned by the local police to report to the
headquarters of the 6th Brigade in Neuquén. As he had a company
car they let him drive home in it. He was told to return because
he would have to be questioned by Major Reinhold of
Intelligence. He went back on the 19th of the same month.
was taken to a place which apparently was next door to the
building I had been in. I was put on another bed there. Two
people were facing me, one asked questions and the other
supposedly acted as his assistant. They continued to hit me as
I was being questioned, and they attached what they called
’the wires’, which was the electric prod, to me, on the
inside of my arms and then under the blindfold, on my temples.
After a long while I was taken back to where I’d been
treatment continued. There were guards who would hit and kick
me and tighten the handcuffs until they cut my wrists, The
interrogation sessions continued until the 29th, roughly every
other day. Several times they played a macabre game with me:
they would put the barrel of a gun to my head and pull the
trigger, but it didn’t go off. At night when it was quieter
I could hear lorries passing fairly close by, which led me to
suppose that we were very near Highway 22 and, in my opinion,
we were in the Battalion barracks.
time they took me for an interrogation session, in addition to
questioning, I would be taken to and from that room and beaten
up again. One night, threatening to finish me off, they put
cigarette ash under my blindfold so that, they said, ’Your
eyes will rot.’
some cases, such as that of José Antonio Giménez (file
No.3035), aged fifty-three, living in Centenario, Neuquén,
arrested on 10 January 1977 outside his house, they used a
I was blindfolded, and had cotton wool over my eyes so that I
wouldn’t see anything, which didn’t stop the blindfold
from slipping at times and letting me see that some of the
guards were wearing army
boots. What’s more, on one occasion when they tried to get
me to sign a statement - which I did not - they removed my
blindfold and I saw that the person speaking to me, a young
man, was dressed in military uniform and wore a gas mask which
entirely covered his face.
was subjected to torture, which consisted in being hung by the
arms from a wall behind me with my legs hanging from another
wall, that is, with my body suspended in the air. They had
attached electrodes to my temples, under the blindfold, and
applied current through those electrodes. This was carried out
at another centre, built of zinc sheets and a wooden frame,
like shelters found in railway stations. These sessions were
repeated several times without my being able to say exactly
how often, interspersed with interrogation sessions limited to
ordering me to ’sing’, that is, to tell what I knew,
though they did not ask me any specific questions about any
event, circumstance, place or date, nor regarding any person
in particular. When they finally demanded that I write in my
own words a description of my actions during the period
immediately before my abduction, I started to do so, but was
interrupted before I could sign it, evidently because it was
no use to them.
As he was having
dinner on 20 January 1976, Santos Aurelio Chaparro was abducted
from his house in Ingenio la Florida, Tucumán province. The
kidnappers were in three cars. Some were in military uniform,
others were dressed in civilian clothes. He recognized the place
they took him to as the Tucumán Police Headquarters. He says
they kept him in a room with other prisoners, and declares (file
That on the second day of being illegally held in those
conditions, two people took him to a smaller room where they
stripped him and tied him to a bed known as the ’grill’.
They attached wires to his head and began to torture him with
electric current. They applied the electric prod all over his
body, with preference for the genital and pectoral areas, and
on the head, mouth, gums, etc. He was tortured for about two
hours, then they took him away to another room in the same
building, where a group of people subjected him to a brutal
beating. This continued for several hours, until he lost
consciousness. He was then taken to the room where he had
first been held. This form of torture was carried out every
day for twenty days, (File No. 5522.)
Chaparro was taken to a ’recuperation’ camp to recover from
his injuries. After twenty-five days he returned to Police
Headquarters and was tortured to a lesser degree for five days.
They promised to release him but cancelled the order as soon as
they had signed it, This took place in the School of Physical
Education on 2 4 March 1976. He goes on:
this period he was again taken to a little room and tortured
On this occasion, he was made to drink large amounts of water
whilst being tortured with the electric prod. They put a
bottle to his mouth, telling him they would make him drink all
the water in the River Salí. He drank two bottles of water.
He was repeatedly tortured with the electric prod. After this
he was brutally beaten, passing out again, bathed in blood.
Water was oozing out of different body orifices and they were
apparently scared by his condition, since after this they
tried to rehabilitate him. He remained here for about twenty
days and then they transferred him to another place which he
cannot identify precisely.
he was tortured on a table with the electric prod. He was also
subjected to the submarino,
in a 200-litre tub. While he was in it, they banged on the
sides of the tub and applied electricity.
was told he was going to be killed. They took him out and
subjected him to a brutal session of torture with the electric
prod, and after this he was made to stand against a wall. An
officer of the Gendarmería
(whom he had seen wearing a military cap) gave him a
karate kick in the back, following which he says he passed
was subsequently brutally beaten, with sticks. He thinks they
cracked his sternum and broke bones in his fingers. The blows
caused his chains to break and he lost consciousness. He was
left with permanent disabilities, such as a buzzing in the
left ear, no feeling in his toes, etc.
was then transferred to La Plata Prison, being released on
probation on 23 March 1982.
will omit the details of the arrest in Santa Fé province of
Orlando Luis Stirnemann, of Río Gallegos (file No. 4337), and
only mention what one of his kidnappers said. At the time of the
arrest, when asked why the victim wasn’t being hooded, he
not necessary and’he knows it. He’s ”got his
being held for a fortnight in that detention centre, I was
transferred to another one, presumably in the same army
would employ torture to interrogate prisoners, including the
electric prod, for which they used a high-voltage device
which, when applied, would cause the tongue to contract, so
that it was impossible for the prisoner to scream. Another
method was to put a cat inside the clothes of the person being
interrogated, then to give it electric shocks so that it would
react violently and injure the prisoner.
the testimony of Enrique Rodríguez Larreta (file No. 2539) we
find new ways of applying torture. We will include only the
essential paragraphs of his statement:
following night it was my turn to be taken to the top floor,
where I was interrogated under torture, as were all the men
and women there. I was stripped naked and was hung by the
wrists with my arms behind me some 20 or 30 centimetres from
the same time they put so me kind of underpants on me,
which had several electrical terminals in them. When
they were connected, the victim received electric current in
several places at once. This device, which they called the
’machine’, was switched on during questioning, while they
hurled threats and abuse at me, hitting me in the most
ground below where the prisoners were suspended was very wet
and covered in coarse salt crystals, with the aim of
intensifying the torture should the person manage to rest his
feet on the floor.
of the people held there with me slipped from their bonds and
knocked themselves against the floor, getting seriously hurt.
I especially remember the case of somebody whom I later knew
to be Edelweiss Zahn de Andrés, who suffered deep cuts about
the head and ankles which later became infected.
Cruz, Argentine, married, resident in Buenos Aires, was a member
of the Gendarmería
between 31 December 1972 (when he joined up, according to
Confidential Bulletin 1460, paragraphs 3-6) and 31 December 1977
when he left, according to the JMM (Joint Military Message -
will transcribe the most important parts
of his testimony (file No. 4676):
I must refer to the PAC (Prisoner Assessment Centre) known as
La Escuelita. It
was located in Famaillá, about two or three blocks away from
the railway to San Miguel de Tucumán.
the time of our arrival, this was the ’dogs of war’
will proceed to describe the interrogation room. This was in
the last classroom in the school, and in it there was a
military-type iron bed, a table and photographs of the
prisoners. ... There was also a battery-operated field
telephone which would generate an electric
current when the handle was turned. The voltage produced
depended on the speed at which it was turned. The
interrogators had a rubber truncheon similar to that used by
the Federal Police, with
which they would beat the prisoners to ’soften them up’
as soon as they were brought in.
then refers to the fate which befell a prisoner placed in his
next day the interrogation of this person began. First he was
tied down to a bed - be couldn’t be handcuffed because there
weren’t any handcuffs large enough to fit his wrists. He was
beaten with a rubber truncheon but, seeing that they were not
getting any results, they began using the telephone wire on
him, One of the wires was tied to the foot of the bed and they
applied the other to the most sensitive parts of his body, and
to his back and chest. As they still couldn’t make him talk
they started hitting him again, until at one point the
prisoner asked to go to the toilet, which request was granted.
I was put in charge of guarding him personally, which
terrified me. I noticed then that he was passing blood, that
is, he seemed to have sustained serious internal injuries.
When I handed him back to the interrogators I mentioned this,
but they dismissed it. Before the torturers went off that
night, they left him tied to a pillar in the open air with
strict orders not to feed him and to give him only water to
drink. He died hanging there in the early hours of the
morning. He had been so badly beaten that he had been unable
to withstand the punishment. When they came back to question
him the interrogators were told what had happened, and they
regretted having been unable to obtain any precise
were interrogated in the same manner. They were stripped
naked, laid down on the bed, and the torture session would
begin. With women, they would insert the wire in the vagina
and then apply it to the breasts, which caused great pain.
Many of them would menstruate in mid-torture. With them they
only used the telephone, no other device.
one occasion they brought in a wounded prisoner. One day, out
of curiosity, I went up to his window, since I was alone and
you could see in through the gap. As I got closer, I saw his
head had been split open, and when I looked at his hands I
noticed that they were full of maggots. This turned my stomach
because the poor bloke was becoming infested with maggots.
the testimony of Carlos Hugo Basso (file No. 7725), Argentine
(currently in exile), we return to the now notorious La Perla
and La Ribera camps. Basso was abducted on 10 November 1976 in
the Alto Alberti district of the town of Córdoba. Following the
usual procedure, with blows and a journey on the floor of a car
under his captors’ feet, they arrived at the secret detention
opened a door which, from the noise it made, was probably
metal. One of those taking me warned me that I was shortly to
meet the ’Priest’, who would be in charge of ’taking my
confession’. This person they called ’Priest’ must have
been quite big since as soon as I went in he grabbed me by
the sides and lifted me in the air ...
they beat me with sticks and a hammer which they used to smash
my fingers whenever my hands were on the floor. They undressed
me and tied my hands and feet to a bed-frame they called a
’grill’. For what must have been about an hour they
applied electric current to the most sensitive parts of my
body: genitals, hips, knees, neck, gums. ... For the neck and
gums they used a tiny instrument with several points, directly
connected to the mains supply of 220 volts. I could see under
my blindfold that every time a discharge was produced, the
light of a small bulb over the ’grill’ dimmed. During this
time I heard one of the torturers being addressed as
’Gringo’. Afterwards somebody applied a stethoscope to my
chest and they untied me. I found I couldn’t walk, but they
dragged me 20 or 30 metres to a mattress in a large room,
against a wall, where I remained until the following day.
Meschiati was abducted in the town of Córdoba on 25 September
1976 and taken to the La Perla centre (file No. 4279). She tells
after my arrival at La Perla I was taken to the torture room
or ’intensive therapy’ room. They stripped me and tied my
feet and hands with ropes to the bars of a bed, so that I was
hanging from them. They attached a wire to one of the toes of
my right foot. Torture was applied gradually, by means of
electric prods of two different intensities: one of 125 volts
which caused involuntary muscle movements and pain all over my
applied this to my face, eyes, mouth, arms, vagina, and anus;
and another of 220 volts called la
margarita (the daisy), which left deep ulcerations which I
still have and which caused a violent contraction, as ” all
my limbs were being torn off at once, especially in the
kidneys, legs, groin and sides of the body. They also put a
wet rag on my chest to increase the intensity of the shock.
tried to kill myself by drinking the foul water in the tub
which was meant for another kind of torture called submarino, but I did not succeed.
gradually increasing intensity of the electric prod was
matched by the sadism of my torturers. There were five of
them, whose names were: Guillermo Barreiro, Luis Manzanelli,
José López, Jorge Romero, and Fermín de los Santos.
Eduardo Dean, Uruguayan, married, abducted at 10 p.m. in the
Almagro district of Buenos Aires on 13 July 1976 (file No.
7412), says in the essential parts of his testimony:
there, we were put in various rooms. With my wrists handcuffed
behind my back, eyes blindfolded, and bleeding profusely, a
new wave of blows began. After half an hour I was taken to a
room on the top floor. There they stripped off all my clothes,
handcuffed my wrists behind my back again and began to throw
buckets of water over me. Next they put wires around my waist,
thorax and ankles. They tied a rope or chain to the handcuffs
and pulled my arms up as high as they could without
dislocating them. I was in that position, literally hanging at
a distance of about 30 centimetres from the floor, for a
Period of time which is not possible to determine in hours,
only in terms of pain. Because of the great suffering induced
by this form of torture, one loses all track of formal time.
the torturers slackened the rope some 20 centimetres, enough
to enable me to touch the ground with some difficulty and rest
my arms a little - actually, any notion of rest was illusory,
since when I tried to touch the floor and succeeded I started
to receive electric shocks. It’s really very difficult to
express in words all the agony these shocks produce. I think
it’s only possible to offer a tragic caricture of what it
was like. Two things might prove
useful as examples and give some idea; some actual physical
events and some sensations. As to the physical effects, I feel
there are two which will show you the extent of the torture:
After torture, the soles of the feet were burnt and layers
of hard skin would form, which peeled off later. Obviously
the skin was burnt from the electric shocks.
During the application of electricity, one would lose all
control over one’s senses, such torture provoking
permanent vomiting, almost constant defecation, etc.
As for sensations, electricity begins to rise up the body.
All the parts with wires attached to them feet as though
they are being torn from the body, Thus, at first, it’s
the feet which feel as though they are being torn off, then
the legs, testicles, thorax, etc.
torture sessions went on for a period of five days, increasing
in Intensity. During the last few days they repeated all the
above methods and, in addition, inserted wires into my anus,
testicles and penis. These practices were carried out in a
diabolical setting; the torturers, some drinking, others
laughing, hitting and insulting, tried to extract from me the
names of Uruguayans living in Argentina who opposed the
current regime governing my country.
noticed that officers of the Uruguayan Army participated
directly in these interrogation and torture sessions. Some
said they belonged to a group called OCOA (Anti-subversive
Operation Coordinating Organization).