Monday, 26 May 2014

Brazilian torturer unrepentant

A former interrogator from the Brazilian intelligence agency DOI, Riscala Corbaje, has related how he was involved in the torture of over 500 people between 1970 and 1972. He made the admission in his testimony to the transitional justice group of the public ministry, reports O Globo.

According to Corbaje - known back then by his code name Nagib - the most effective torture method was the pau de arara (parrot's perch). Apparently, other forms of pain such as electric shock were "unnecessary" if this agonising position was used.

Corbaje appealed to the committee to be "left in peace", but he also said he did not have a guilty conscience.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Peru: 1964 stadium disaster

As the Hillsborough disaster is in the news again in the UK due to the ongoing inquest, the BBC has run a feature on Peru's 1964 stadium which, it is rightly pointed out, is little known globally. I had actually never heard of it. This is a very interesting, though sad, article:

Lima 1964: The world's worst stadium disaster (BBC)

See also this piece from the Guardian archives:
From the archive, 26 May 1964: Hundreds dead in stampede at football match

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Peru: Part of Lugar de la memoria about to open

Peru's memorial project, the Lugar de la Memoria, Tolerancia y la Inclusión Social (LUM), is to open its first phase on June 4. The auditorium and two public esplanades will be opened, featuring the photographic exhibition "Chungui" by Max Cabello and other cultural events. The opening celebration will be held over three days and entrance is free.

The director of the project, Denise Ledgard, explains to Caretas that she conceives it not just as a museum but as a space for debate, education, and exchange of experiences.

Here she is as well discussing the plans in more detail on the programme "Buenas noches":

Both Ledgard and Diego García-Sayan, president of the LUM commission, stress the plurality of the space and García-Sayan told Caretas it is "not a museum about the violence of the 1980s". Predictably, this does not please everyone - with the blog Genocidio Ayacucho, for example, asking "then what's the point?" and calling it a disgrace. Ledgard also talks about her desire for "objectivity" which I think is always a difficult thing. You don't expect a site of atrocity like Auschwitz to be "objective" and present the views of Nazis as equally valid, do you? Equally, however, I understand the point about bringing together different groups. This is tricky and I will be watching to see what the content of the space looks like when it is open.

Deconstruyendo la Memoria (Caretas)
Madres reconciliadoras (La Republica)

Friday, 16 May 2014

Urbes Mutantes: Latin American Photography 1944-2013

A new exhibition at the International Center of Photography in New York surveys photographic movements in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela.

One of the images shows the word "Evaporados" - evaporated - pasted in huge letters on an expressway wall in Lima, Peru. As the Lens blog writes, the artist Eduardo Villanes put them there in 1995, to protest the abduction and murder of nine university students and a professor by a military death squad (this is referring to the La Cantuta case), as well as the subsequent amnesty granted to the killers by Alberto Fujimori.

The exhibition, curated by Alexis Fabry and María Wills, runs until 7 September 2014.

Tales of Many Cities (The Wall Street Journal)
Latin America’s Mutating Cities, in Photographs (Lens blog, NY Times)

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Argentina: Abuelas resolve three more cases

The Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo have resolved three more cases, although the ending is not a happy one. The Argentine forensic anthropology team (EAAF) has been able to confirm the identities of three pregnant disappeared women who were murdered before giving birth, bringing a search for their possible offspring to an end. Two of the women were found some time ago but the announcement has only been made now.

The Abuelas expressed their pain at the news but stressed that at least they now know the truth.

Mónica Edith De Olaso's remains were found next to those of her partner, Alejandro Ford, in the cemetery of Ezpeleta, in Quilmes. She was murdered on 24 June, 1977, when she was nearly 19 and three months pregnant. 

Alicia Tierra was buried in a cemetery in Rosario. She was six months pregnant and aged 23 when she was killed on 31 December 1976. 

Laura Romera and her partner, Luis Guillermo Vega Ceballos, were abducted on 9 April 1976 when she was four months pregnant. They both became victims of the "death flights" and their bodies were washed up on the coast of Uruguay and identified at the end of 2012.

El Equipo de Antropología identificó a tres embarazadas desaparecidas (

Friday, 2 May 2014

Paraguay: Trucks of terror

Spanish paper El Mundo has an interesting piece on the camionetas del terror in Paraguay. I've written previously on that icon of the dictatorship in Argentina, the Ford Falcon. In Paraguay, apparently, the equivalent was the Chevrolet Custom 10 in red, as donated by the US and used to transport those picked up by the security forces to police stations, prisons, detention and torture centres. For many, it was the last vehicle they would ever sit in. A survivor of the dictatorship describes the fear provoked by the sight of the red trucks cruising the streets of Asunción.

Now one of them has been recovered and will be displayed outside the memory museum in the Paraguayan capital (Museo de las Memorias de Asunción).

Las camionetas del terror llegan al Museo de las Memorias de Paraguay (El Mundo)