(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
Secret detention centres in Córdoba province
This was the most important secret detention centre in Córdoba. It was situated on National Highway No. 20 to Carlos Paz, where the Reconnaissance Squadron of the 4th Airborne Cavalry is now
In size, character and capacity it was comparable only to the Campo de Mayo or Navy Mechanics School, It was incorporated into the network of secret detention centres immediately after the military coup.
It is estimated that over 2,200 people passed through this camp between then and the end of 1979.
Illegal repressive activity throughout the province was coordinated from La Perla. Disappearances hundreds of kilometres away were planned and ordered from there. It also handled links with the secret centres in the rest of the country.
This Commission carried out inspections at La Perla. Witnesses taking part recognized each and every one of the places where they had lived through days of horror.
The gendarme Beltrán also acted as a guard at La Perla, with the same kind of duties as at La Ribera:
At La Perla we covered osts outside in the sentry boxes and inside the building. It was our job as guards to take the prisoners to a room where there was a notice saying: 'Intensive Therapy Unit-Invalids Not Admitted'. There I watched prisoners being tortured. It was continually said that the 'Yankee' was a common criminal who had been taken out of prison on the express orders of General Menéndez to look after the cars. I remember seeing the Commander of the 3rd Corps on three occasions. Once was on some national day and the other two were inspections of the interrogation room, the prison block, and a room where things taken in raids and kidnappings were stored. (Carlos Beltrán, file No. 4213.)
Once I witnessed the death of a prisoner in the torture room. The body was taken out of the room afterwards and put inside a gas storage hut where the corpses were piled up waiting to be taken away in a lorry, I don't know where to. José María Domínguez, file No. 4213.)
As well as being a centre for unlawful imprisonment and torture, La Perla was also the scene of summary executions carried out as part of a policy of extermination.
Another secret detention centre situated nearby, called the Perla Chica or Malagueño, acted as an annexe to this camp. It was much smaller, and was recognized in the course of the Commission's investigations. The following testimony provides some details:
We were being held prisoner in the Villa Maria Prison for legally convicted prisoners, around the time of the World Cup, when one morning they loaded us on to a lorry, bound and blindfolded, We made a brief stop in Córdoba, then continued our journey until we arrived somewhere. First we were in a room and then they took us to a block. Soon afterwards they took us back to the small room, We knew by now that it was the camp called Malagueño. They kept us for a week in this cell, standing blindfolded and tied hand and foot with wire, with nothing to eat and only salt water to drink from time to time. We had to relieve ourselves there, it was a real pigsty. Anyone who fell down, overcome by sleep and exhaustion, was beaten viciously. One by one we were taken out to be tortured and interrogated. Once I realized that a very important person was there. I heard the name of Maradona, Deputy Commander of the 3rd Corps, mentioned by the guards, who were very nervous. (Pujol, file No. 4080.).