Friday, 20 November 2009

Argentina: Honour for Victor Basterra

A survivor of the ESMA torture camp, Víctor Basterra, received an award for valour today in Buenos Aires - and well-deserved it is too.

Basterra was imprisoned in the ESMA in 1979 and, like some other skilled detainees, put to work. In his case, he was forced to photograph the military personnel working there, for ID cards and the like.

Some trusted prisoners were occasionally allowed out of the detention centres without being granted their true freedom - and if you wonder why they would ever return, you can only imagine what would have happened to their families and friends if they had not. Basterra was one of these, and he secretly smuggled out the photos he had taken and other negatives of the prisoners themselves (it is often reported that he took those images too, but he testifies otherwise - a military photographer photographed the disappeared and Basterra made copies). These photographs are essential evidence of who, both victim and perpetrator, was incontrovertibly in the ESMA during the dictatorship and were used during the Trial of the Juntas.

There is not a shadow of a doubt that Basterra was risking his life in removing evidence from the Navy's major detention centre. Moreover, this brave man continues to struggle for justice by talking about what happened to him, taking tour groups around the ESMA, and testifying in legal proceedings.

Basterra's work
The photographs of the Navy personnel can be seen here
The photographs of the disappeared also feature in the book Memoria en construccion edited by Marcelo Brodsky. Brodsky's disappeared brother Fernando is on the poster you can see in the small image above.
For background on Basterra and the ESMA, see also this article from the Washington Post: Torture Center to Bear Witness

El que "saco" las foto
s (Pagina/12)
La Legislatura distingue a un sobreviviente de la ESMA (Critica Digital)

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