(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
The 'La Chacarita' Cemetery: some figures worth analysis file
In view of the unusual rise in the numbers of unmarked graves in different municipalities all over the country between 1976 and 1978 and the cremations carried out without any regard for legal or ethical norms, we think it would be of interest to spotlight some figures related to these activities at the La Chacarita cemetery in the capital.
Contrary to what might be expected, the number of unidentified people whose remains were brought into this cemetery fell drastically during the period of fiercest anti-terrorist repression, between 1976 and 1978. Looking over the figures for the years from 1974 to 1980 we find that: in 1974, 70 unnamed bodies were received; in 1975, 66; in 1976, only one; in 1977, 8; in 1978 none at all; in 1979, 16; and in 1980, 15.
The burials of corpses which had met a violent death match these figures. Taking again the period from 1974 to 1980, we find the following statistics: in 1974, 270 bodies of this kind were brought in; in 1975, 237; in 1976, 9; in 1977, 26; in 1978, 2; in 1979, 50, and in 1980 they went up to 93.
But for cremations performed during the same period the pattern is reversed, showing a marked increase: in 1974 there were 13,120; in 1975, 15,405, in 1976, 20,500; in 1977, 32,683; in 1978, 30,094; in 1979, 31,461. In 1980 the number went down again to 21,381.
Without trying to pass final judgment on the significance of these figures, it might not be rash to assume that the fall-off in the number of unnamed bodies and victims of violent deaths during the critical period, offset by a decision to increase cremations, was due to the fact that the casualties of 'shoot-outs' were usually brought in and cremated without being registered.
The testimony of Fernando López (file No. 3926), who worked for the municipality carrying coffins in his van, seems significant in this respect. In 1977 he drove the van into a part of the cemetery which the employees were forbidden to enter, and got out in order to see how the oven worked. He saw two containers like the ones used on trucks, 2 metres by 4 metres and 3 metres high. As one of these containers was open, he could see that it was full of the bodies of young people of both sexes which had not yet decomposed. He noticed that they were all naked and mostly heaped together. The guard discovered him, pushed him against the wall and demanded to know which workers were waiting for him outside, then let him go, but not without