(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
Secondary school students
The Román family, of Costa Rican origin, had lived for a long time in the city of Córdoba. Claudio Luis Román Méndez (file No. 7615) was sixteen years old and in the fourth year of the Manuel Belgrano secondary school. He was elected head of year by his fellow students.
At 3 a.m. on 27 July 1976 ten men threatened to break down the door of his house if he did not open it. Asked to identify themselves, they showed their guns, saying, 'This is our identification.' They took Claudio Luis away. 'Don't worry madam, nothing is going to happen to your son. He'll be back in three or four days,' they said.
It was a long, arduous job finding Claudio. On 13 August Córdoba's morning press referred to a military communiqu6 which stated that Claudio Luis Román, together with another youngster, had died in a fight with members of the Army.
On 14 August
1976 after a considerable amount of bureaucracy the body of Claudio was handed over to the morgue in Córdoba Hospital. There his parents asked the people in charge if they could see the corpse to identify it, but they were told that they would have to wait to give them time to bury the innumerable bodies of young people that were piled up on the floor for lack of space. They pulled out the body of Claudio from one of these piles, advising them not to look at it in so far as that was possible. The sight was shocking. The body was lacerated all over. The boy showed the most horrible signs of torture, which had practically cut him to pieces.
The night of 16 September is sadly remembered in La Plata as the 'Night of the Pencils'.
That night the following people were seized from their homes by the Security Forces and they are still on the list of the disappeared: Horacio Angel Ungaro (file No. 4205), Daniel Alberto Rasero (file No. 4205), Francisco López Muntaner (file No. 5479), María Claudia Falcone (file No. 2800), Victor Treviño (file No. 4018), Claudio de Acha (file No. 148), María Clara Ciocchini (file No. 1178). They formed part of a group of sixteen people, aged between fourteen and eighteen, who had taken part in a campaign in favour of school subsidies. Each of them was taken from their homes. The Buenos Aires Provincial Police had decided to punish everyone who had participated in the pro-school subsidy campaign, because the Armed Forces considered it to be 'subversion in the schoolroom'. Three of the youngsters were freed.
According to the inquiries carried out by this Commission, and witnesses' accounts in the Commission's possession, the young people seized were killed after undergoing the most horrible tortures in different secret detention centres, among which were: Arana, Pozo de Bánfield, Pozo de Quilmes, the headquarters of the Buenos Aires Provincial Police and Police Stations Nos. 3, 5, 8 and 9 of La Plata, and Police Station No. 3 of Valentín Alsina, in Lanús, as well as the Shooting Range buildings in Buenos Aires Provincial Police Headquarters.
According to the testimony of Pablo Díaz (file No. 4018), on 22 September 1976 he saw Victor Treviño still alive in the secret detention centre of Arana. He saw María Claudia Falcone for the last time, after spending several months with her in the same prison, on 28 December 1976 in the Pozo de Bánfield. The witness also saw Claudio de Acha in Bánfield, and a young boy nicknamed 'Colorado', all of them secondary school students, who knew each other, as well as several other people, including three pregnant women who had their babies while in prison.
Groups of secondary school students were also seized in Bahía Blanca. With reference to these cases, Alicia Mabel Partnoy told us in her testimony (file No. 2266):
When I came to La Escuelita there were about a dozen seventeen year olds, all of them pupils of the State Technical School No. 1 of Bahía Blanca. They had been taken from their homes in front of their parents in the second half of December 1976. Some stayed in prison for a month and were severely beaten and forced to lie on the floor with their hands tied behind their backs. At least two of them were tortured with electric prods. They were then freed. The reason for their detention was an incident involving a teacher (a naval officer). When classes came to an end for the holidays there was a joyful atmosphere. This teacher warned the students to stop making a row, but they did not obey him. Giving this reason he then expelled them from the school. The children's parents protested to the military authorities, and requested that the children be re-admitted. The authorities warned the parents to stop making their request or 'they would regret it'. A few days later, bands of heavily armed and hooded men broke into the pupils' houses and seized