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Part I
The Repression

Nunca Más (Never Again) - Report of Conadep  - 1984


LL. Registration of those arrested-disappeared


Those who were arrested and transferred to the secret detention centres were interrogated, mostly by use of unlawful methods, to discover their political, trade union or student activities and affiliations.

In each case a card was made out assigning a number to each detainee, which was then used to identify them during their captivity. In many detention centres prisoners were photographed and the declarations obtained from them were tape-recorded.

Testimonies made by those freed from various centres throughout the country concur on this particular aspect of procedure.

a) Carlos Muñoz (file No. 704) relates what occurred at the Navy Mechanics School:

…In January they took the sixty (referring to the number of detainees held) down into the basement and a photograph was taken of each one. In February I was given a job in photography as that was work I knew how to do, and I was transferred to the laboratory.

All the cases were filed on microfilm containing descriptions of procedures used, past record and sentence. With the data on procedure were two final items: transfer-freedom ...

b) The testimony of Lázaro Jaime Gladstein (file No. 4912):

…files of the targets to be arrested were called 'case 1000' …the cases were separate and information was collected under the same item ... I saw about 800 of those files. There was in addition the card index in which some 5,000 were grouped by alias or name and surname. In the same office there was a book where all the cases which went through the Navy Mechanics School were recorded. The name, surname and alias, if relevant, date of admission and discharge, a column marked with an '(L)' or '(D)' or left blank which in his view indicated release, disappearance or execution, and the current place of captivity were all listed. The case numbers were allocated in order of admission and were recorded in sequence in the book.

The testimonies of Gatica Caracoche and others describe what occurred in La Cacha:

I was interrogated again on -several occasions. ... These interrogations were tape-recorded. ... There was a register of detainees which included files, cards and tape-recordings of the detainees ...

Similar methods for the classification and registration of detainees were used at La Perla, as is evidenced by the testimony of Graciela Geuna, file No. 764.

After the first interrogations, the prisoners were shown photographs, from several dossiers, of students from various faculties (the photographs having been handed over by faculty authorities), photos from factories handed over by their managers to the army post. Data obtained in this way was used either for the purposes of immediate kidnap or to build up a file with the previous record of each person. ... The first written declaration was called 'prior', and referred to the profession of the prisoner, to his affiliations; sometimes the prisoners wrote it themselves, other times they wrote it under duress or another prisoner wrote it out for them. At the end of each day a list of arrested-disappeared people who were at La Perla was drawn up. The people kidnapped that day were added to the list in order of arrival. Those transferred that day were not included. The list was headed 'List of detainees at the University'. The university in question was La Perla. ... Beneath the heading the name of each person kidnapped who was at La Perla that day was written, his nickname if he had one, real or imagined political affillation. ...The admission number came last. These lists were made out in triplicate. The first copy remained at La Perla; the second was taken each evening, at the end of the working day, to the headquarters; the third was taken each day to the 2nd Command of the Army Corps. In addition to this daily report, each prisoner's statements were taken down in duplicate and files made up.

... In 1977 they began to microphotograph all the files on the kidnapped persons. Files were made up of detainees and their names added to the lists only if they arrived at La Perla alive. The person responsible for making microfilms was First Lieutenant Cecchi, alias 'Villegas'.

It has been possible to corroborate that information obtained in the detention centres was then sent to the intelligence services of the different branches of the forces or to joint commands. This is illustrated in the testimony of a former member of one of the task forces:

DOCUMENTS PREPARED AFTER THE DETENTION: REPORT OF A METHODICAL INTERROGATION: there could be an expansion of the case, additional targets could be derived from it, etc., the lists of detainees were sent to the Army Command or to the Regional or Sub-Regional Headquarters as well as to the operational area to which the centre was responsible. This was obligatory procedure for detention centres. It was a numerical list of arrivals of detainees which contained their personal data, and the letter and number they were assigned on admission to that centre. It is worth mentioning that the reports on the methodical interrogations were sent in pouches under the heading 'Belonging to,' the letter and number corresponding to the detainee, with no indication whatsoever of the identity of the detainee, on unheaded paper so that in case of loss it could not possibly be linked to any disappeared person. Only the operational superiors - the headquarters - knew who they corresponded to on the list of detainees. RECORD OF NEW INFORMATION FROM THE ASSEMBLY CENTRES FOR DETAINEES: it contains in alphabetical and numerical order any new information regarding admissions, discharges, transfers, with explicit reference to the authority dealing with each of them. Release order; transfer order; order to be placed at the disposition of the National Executive: final disposal order ... final card of antecedents: it was obligatory for the person keeping the record of each case to send the card after verification by the task force headquarters, to the archives of the Intelligence Service, or the Archives Registry, depending upon each service's arrangements. If there was an existing card for the detainee in question it was added to the collected information. The numbering was usually according to identity card number and by name, both legal, nom de guerre, nickname and in the women's cases according to married or single name, and nickname. There was a card for each person under each category classified. The card and all the information added to it was microfilmed. (Testimony of Néstor Norberto Cendor, file No. 7170.)

The existence of documentation was revealed by the discovery of the 'Directives from the Commander-in-Chief of the Army No. 504/77' of 20 April 1977, issued by the then Commander-in Chief of the Army, General Jorge Rafael Videla. It contains one main section and fifteen appendices providing detailed information on the procedures to be followed when carrying out any kind of action.




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