(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
abducted person would arrive hooded - ’walled up’ - and
would remain so throughout his stay. The purpose of this was to
make him lose his spatial awareness, thus depriving him not only
of the world outside the pozo, but also of everything
immediately beyond his own body.
victim might be assaulted at any time without the slightest
chance of defending himself. He had to learn a new code of
signals, sounds and smells in order to guess whether he was in
danger or if the situation had eased. That was one of the
heaviest burdens to endure, according to a number of testimonies
psychological torture of the ’hood’ was as bad or worse
than the physical, although the two cannot be compared since
whereas the latter attempts to reach the limits of pain, the
hood causes despair, anxiety and madness ...
the hood on, I became fully aware of my complete lack of
contact with the outside world. There was nothing to protect
you, you were completely alone. That feeling of vulnerability,
isolation and fear is very difficult to describe. The mere
inability to see gradually undermines your morale, diminishing
your resistance ...
’hood’ became unbearable, so much so that one Wednesday,
transfer day, I shouted for them to have me transferred: ’Me
... me ... 571’. The hood had achieved its aim, I was no
longer Lisandro Raúl Cubas, I was a number. (File No. 6974)
be ’transferred’ was considered synonymous with death. No
less horrifying are the recollections of Liliana Callizo, who in
page 8 of her testimony (file No. 4413), states:
very difficult to tell of the terror of the minutes, hours,
days, months, years spent there ...
first the prisoner has no idea what his surroundings were
like. Some of us imagined it to be round; others, as a kind of
football stadium, with the guards circling over our heads.
didn’t know which way up we were, which way our heads and
feet were pointing. I remember grabbing hold of the mattress
with all my strength, so that I wouldn’t fall, although I
knew that it was on the floor.
would hear noises, footsteps, the sound of guns, and when they
opened the grille we would prepare to face our execution.
Military boots continued to circle around us.
of the SDCs was based on hundreds of testimonies given by
released people who had spent differing lengths of time as
disappeared prisoners. The astonishing similarity between plans
sketched by the deponents in their files and the definitive ones
produced under the direction of architects and technical teams
who took part in the inspections and surveys carried out by the
Commission can be explained by the necessary sharpening of the
other senses and by a whole set of patterns meticulously stored
in the memory, as a means of clinging to reality and life. The
change of guard, the noise of planes and trains, and usual
torturing times were an essential part of these ’patterns’.
to space, corporeal’ memory was a determining factor: how many
steps they had to take before turning to go to the toilet; the
sound, the speed and the turnings taken by the car they were
being driven in when entering or leaving the SDCs, etc. In some
cases the abductors, who were aware of these techniques, managed
to disturb and even totally confuse memory by means of various
tricks. Sometimes they would take unnecessary turnings in the
car, The technique of taking the prisoners hooded to the toilet,
in single file and constantly hitting them, made identification
of the place very difficult. The same happened with the constant
disruption of sleep patterns. Nevertheless, many of the
prisoners still managed to piece together the jigsaw, in some
cases from ordinary sounds such as the dripping of a water tank,
the cleaning of a cesspit, the murmur of people eating,
birdsong, or boats banging against a pier.
many of the Inspections of the SDCs carried out by the
Commission, witnesses would put on a scarf or bandage, or simply
shut their eyes tight, in order to relive that time of terror
and be able to remember the ordeal in detail. ’Walling up’
tended to cause damage to the eyes, says Enrique Núñez (file
put a dirty blindfold on me, very tightly, which pressed on my
eyes and cut my circulation. It seriously damaged my eyesight,
leaving me blind for more than thirty days after I was
released from the Guerrero Centre, Jujuy ...
commonest physical damage this form of torture produced was
conjunctivitis. Another, less common, was the infestation of the
conjunctiva by maggots. The deponent of file No. 2819 states:
Campo de Mayo, where I was taken on 28 April 1977, the
treatment consisted of keeping the prisoner hooded throughout
his stay, sitting, without talking or moving, in large rooms
which had previously been used as stables. Perhaps this phrase
does not express clearly enough what that actually meant,
because you might think that when I say, ‘sitting, hooded,
all the time’, it is justa figure of speech. But that is not
the case: we prisoners were made to sit on the floor with
nothing to lean against from the moment we got up at six in
the morning until eight in the evening when we went to bed. We
spent fourteen hours a day in that position.
And when I say ‘without talking or moving’, I mean
exactly that. We couldn’t utter a word, or even turn our
heads. On one occasion, a companion
ceased to be included on the interrogators’ list and
was forgotten. Six
months went by, and they only realized what had happened
because one of the guards thought it strange that the prisoner
was never wanted for anything and was always in the same
condition, without being ’transferred’. He told the
interrogators, who decided to ’transfer’ him that week, as
he was no longer of any interest to them.
This man had been sitting there, hooded, without speaking or
moving, for six months, awaiting death. We would sit like
this, padlocked to a chain which could be either individual or
collective. The individual type was a kind of shackle put on
the feet; the collective type consisted of one chain about 30
metres long, long enough to be attached at either end to
opposite walls in the block. Prisoners were chained to it
every metre and a half, as circumstances required, so that
they were all linked together, This system was permanent.
example is provided by the testimony of Enrique Corteletti (file
No. 3523), who was kept in the Navy Mechanics School after his
abduction on 22 November 1976:
put a sort of
shackle on my ankles and I was handcuffed the whole time. When
they took me to the second floor, after being put through the
’machine’ for a while, I could see that there were many
people there. They put me between two not very high
partitions. They laid me down on a kind of mattress. Because I
was shackled, my right foot became infected, so they changed
the shackle for another round my left foot, attached at the
other end to a cannon ball ...