Monday, 17 June 2013

Argentina: El Silencio

As part of the ESMA trial, an official visit has been conducted to El Silencio, an island in the province of Buenos Aires where prisoners were temporarily moved during the visit of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (CIDH) in 1979.

The site appears to have been largely untouched for the past 30 years:
"The place is like it was, the only difference is the vegetation has grown up," said survivor Carlos Lordkipanidse. "The buildings have really deteriorated because they haven't been maintained. What has gone is the landing stage, that's not there. Everything else is. The feeling is terrible, it's like going into the ESMA."

The island previously belonged to the diocese of Buenos Aires and was bought by the navy using fake identity documents of a detainee who had been released and gone into exile. The prisoners spent over a  month there while CIDH inspectors were shown the cleaned, spruced-up ESMA. They were held in two groups, one of which enjoyed comparatively acceptable conditions while the detainees of the other were kept permanently hooded and locked in. It should be noted that despite the deception by the junta, the CIDH's report is still highly critical of the Argentine government.

A number of survivors attended the visit, including Victor Basterra, whom I've written about before.

Los sonidos del Silencio (Pagina/12)

Further info:
For the CIDH report on the human rights situation in Argentina, dated 1980, see here.
For an excerpt in English from Horacio Verbitsky's book El Silencio, which details the relationship between the Catholic Church in Argentina and the military regime, see here.

No comments: