(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
The Proceedings of
the Commission on Disappeared People in Córdoba
On 3 May 1984 an inspection was made of the 4th Airborne Cavalry Squadron's barracks, where the La Perla secret detention centre had operated, with sixteen witnesses taking part. They immediately recognized the concrete paving and the pole in the yard where some of them had been given a dose of sunstroke.
Perelmuter (file No. 3950) identified the entrance hall and the five offices. He said that he recognized the right-hand wall, where they had been put through a simulated execution by firing squad. Ana María Mohamed (file No. 4306) also found her bearings perfectly in the hall, which she had described in her deposition:
'It was here, in the second and third rooms as you enter from the left, that I was interrogated by Luis Manzanelli.'
Everything in the block has remained the same except the prisoners' straw mattresses, sometimes separated by screens, which have been replaced by bunks for conscripts. The group of ex-prisoners were unanimous in their recognition of the baths, toilets and urinals. The plumbing was the same.
Outside they recognized the metal door of a shed: 'This is where they tortured,' said Contemponi (file No. 4077). They also identified the place where the implements of torture were kept, associating each place with the people they had seen there. Estela Berastegui (file No. 3319) noted:
The wall opposite the entrance, above the passage, is a landmark to me, almost a gravestone. That was where I saw my brother for the last time. He was groaning with pain, his legs were giving way under him, he bore the marks of torture and was asking to be treated by a doctor.
The deposition of Elmer Fessia (file No. 4075) is equally moving:
In the first office off the hall there was a bed-frame like the one there now. Dr Eduardo Valverde was suspended from it and beaten by a group of people while a captain interrogated me. He moaned all night and then I couldn't hear him any more.
This represents only a tiny part of the experience of inspecting La Perla. The consistency and concurrence of the facts collected in testimony could be proved in situ, point by point, because the building had changed so little.