(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
Deposition made by Enrique Rodríguez Larreta Piera - File N° 2539
In addition to the events described in the cases referred to above, the Uruguayan citizen Enrique Rodríguez Larreta Piera made a deposition of his tragic experience to the National Courts and this was made available to this Commission. In view of the weight it carries it is of interest to transcribe the pertinent paragraphs in their entirety:
On 1 July 1976 1 was informed by my daughter-in-law, Raquel Nogueira Paullier, of the disappearance of my son, Enrique Rodríguez Larreta Martinez, Uruguayan, married, twenty-six years old, father of a child of five, a journalist by profession and legally resident in Argentina since 1973. We immediately got in touch with a lawyer and under his guidance presented a writ of habeas corpus. ... Several days later I was advised that the writ would simply be filed because the authorities had informed him that there was no warrant for arrest against my son nor was he actually under arrest.
On the night of 13/14 July, a gang of between eight and twelve armed people, after entering the block of flats where my son and daughter-in-law lived, broke down the door of the apartment and entered without a search warrant ... my daughter-in-law and I were taken out of the house and put into a closed van. ... The van went to another house: after stopping for a while a couple were put in with us. We were then taken to a place which had a noisy metal door that had to be rolled up. I realized immediately that there were a large number of people in that place, in a similar condition to mine. I was able to identify my son among them by his voice and also because although I had been hooded with a sugar bag it had a loose mesh so I could see people's silhouettes. A guard realized that I could see a little and beat me and bandaged my eyes tightly with a cloth. Among the people who were there I was also able to recognize Margarita Michelini, the daughter of my friend Senator Zelmar Michelini, murdered a short time earlier, and León Duarte, a Uruguayan trade union leader who had played a significant part in the trade union movement in our country.
While I was tortured I was asked about the political activities of my son and my involvement in the Partido por la Victoria del Pueblo (Party for the People's Victory) to which, according to them, my son belonged. It was in this room that as a result of the bandage over my eyes slipping slightly due to heavy sweating I saw a picture of Adolf Hitler hanging on the wall. After suffering this treatment, I was taken to the ground floor where I remained until I was transferred to Uruguay. I was able to recognize clearly the voice of Gerardo Gatti Antuña, leader of the Uruguayan graphic workers' union, whom I have known for a long time. Through comments made by other kidnapped people -when the guards were distracted we were able to exchange a few words in whispers- I learned that another of the voices I'd heard on the ground floor was Hugo Méndez, another Uruguayan trade unionist who had been kidnapped in Buenos Aires in June. As the days went by, from what was said and the expressions used I realized that the vast majority of those involved in the kidnap operations and in guarding us were Argentinians. Some Uruguayan military belonged to a group called OCOA (the Coordinating Organization of Anti-subversive Operations) made up of members of the Uruguayan military and police force. They addressed each other with the name ol 'Oscar' followed buy a number. On 26 July we were told to prepare for transfer. The trip had already been announced three days before, but according the guards' comments the plane we were to have travelled on was held up by a storm that day and the operation was postponed. Our eyes and mouths were closed with adhesive tape ... We were made to climb on to the back of a truck and sit on the floor. When we left the house where we had been held captive, Gerardo Gatti, León Duarte and Hugo Méndez were left behind in the house, and I never heard of them again.
The truck we were on was heavily guarded, judging by the noise of the motor bikes and cars around us, whose sirens sounded at each crossroads to stop the traffic. We were taken to the military base next to the Buenos Aires Municipal Airport. I was able to see this because the sweat caused in the confined space and the drizzle which was failing at that moment made the adhesive tape unstick slightly. Once we got off the truck we were made to get on a Fairchild plane of the type used by the Uruguayan Air Force and the TAMU services (Uruguayan Military Air Transport) and PLUNA (National Air Line). Some of the people I travelled with saw the name PLUNA on the plastic bags in the seat pockets. We were seated and I estimated that the flight lasted approximately an hour. When we landed and disembarked I realized we were at Military Air Base No. 1 adjoining the Uruguayan National Airport of Carrasco on the outskirts of Montevideo.
On the night of 14 August we were hurriedly taken from the place we were staying. We travelled for twenty to thirty minutes to our new destination. On arrival we had to descend into the basement of a house, into a large room with a wooden floor where we were divided into two groups, each one against a wall. There Major Gavazzo gave us a speech, telling us that we were in the hands of what he called the 'special security forces' of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay and that we were under rigorous discipline, any breach of which would be severely punished. A few days after our arrival Felix Díaz
Berdayes (15 August) and Laura Anzalone (20 August), his partner who was pregnant, were taken away. On 26 August - I remember it precisely because it was the day after an important historical date in Uruguay and several guards made comments about the military parade - Major Gavazzo returned. He made us stand up and made a declaration, claiming that the special security forces of Uruguay had saved our lives by rescuing us from the Argentine assassins who 'wanted to send us up to play the harp with St Peter'. We should therefore help justify our presence in Uruguay by taking part in a simulated armed invasion by a guerrilla group who were supposed to have entered the country secretly at Río Negro where they had been 'taken by surprise' by Uruguayan troops. He attempted to put pressure on us by reminding us that although they had saved our lives we were entirely in their hands and nobody knew of our whereabouts. The proposal was unamously rejected. He replied that he had no choice but to return us to Argentina for them to assassinate us. I have no criminal record and if I was kidnapped and sent back by force to Uruguay it was only because I was in Buenos Aires searching for my disappeared son. All my papers were in order. I was only taking steps allowed by the Constitution and the law. I also wish to state clearly that a person who I later discovered was Álvaro Nores Montedónico, the brother of María Filar Nores Montedónico, was brought from Buenos Aires. The latter was an Uruguayan refugee, also kidnapped in Buenos Aires, and had travelled with us, though in different circumstances.
On 22 December I was set free and taken to my house. The house where I was kidnapped belonged to my daughter-in-law, Raquel Nogueira Paullier. Once freed, I went back to Buenos Aires, returned to her house, and found it had been looted. I was later informed that after the kidnap it was closed up and a notice saying 'Argentine Army' put up outside it. The porter witnessed what happened. He confirmed that the place was located at Victor Martínez 1480, Buenos Aires. When I decided to leave Uruguay to give testimony about these events I returned to Buenos Aires where, through contacts with members of the Uruguayan refugee community, I discovered that my description coincided with that made by an Argentinian couple who had earlier escaped from the house where they were illegally held. They had been able to identify it on Calle Venancio Flores on the corner of Calle Emilio Lamarca. I went there and it was in fact the place where we had been held. It was an old workshop with a sign outside, 'Orletti Motors'. After I was freed I learned that during September 1976 depositions on the disappearance in Buenos Aires of several dozens of Uruguayan refugees had been made. Among those kidnapped were three small children who were abducted with their parents. This constitutes indisputable evidence on intervention in a foreign country and a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of the American Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Geneva Convention of 1951 on Political refugees.