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Zelmar Michelini
Mayo 21, 1976

Case: Zelmar Michelini



Montevideo, at the Corner of Buenos Aires:

July 1, 2004
Jorge Elías

Reportes Relacionados

2004-7-1


They used him, he says: “I never killed anyone nor tortured anyone.” But Agustín Efraín Silvera, supposedly a member of the Argentine Federal Police retired after seven years’ service, admits that he was implicated in a horrendous, brutal, frightful crime typical of a time when life had little or no value. Just as little or no value had the investigations into who carried it out and why. Everything had little or no value, in fact.

“I took care of Michelini with other people,” Silvera said, “All I had to do was follow him and find out where he was going and at what time, and al of that. The senator almost always dined in a restaurant on Maupu Street, which was owned by some Uruguayans. He would leave the hotel where he lived, go to have lunch at the restaurant, sometimes he would go back to the hotel and at other times he would go straight form the restaurant by taxi or in a car to the newspapers where he worked, La Opinión. CH had people at La Opinión, among the security people there, and they reported on who used to come and talk to the senator, and things like that. I believe CH also had people on another level at the paper, as he even knew things that Michelini said in the newsroom and suchlike information that could only come from people on the inside.”

CH was Uruguayan police superintendent Hugo Campos Hermida. Both he and Major José Nino Gavazzo and Captains Manuel Cordero and Jorge Silveira had benefited from the refusal by the Uruguayan government to have them placed in preventive detention with a view to their being extradited to Argentina made on June 21, 2001 by federal judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral. They were said to have taken part in the “Dirty war” Operation Condor. In addition, Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón included Captains Ernesto Rama, Guillermo Ramírez and Ricardo Medina and Major Enrique Martínez in the petition filed on January 27, 1997, regarding the disappearance of 200 Spanish citizens at the hands of Argentine and Uruguayan security forces.

Silvera, the author of a statement that looks as little plausible as his apparent identity, says that he feared for his life, that he had turned over to people he trusted a tape recording and a number of documents, the only things he had to back him up, and that while in jail he was seeking safe conduct “…to ensure that nothing happened to me in here, because if they want to they can whack (eliminate) me,” he says in his statement. “All I want is a guarantee. That’s all.”

He did not want to end up like Uruguayan senator Zelmar Michelini, who last job was as a reporter with La Opinión in Buenos Aires, the newspaper owned by Jacobo Timerman, imprisoned without a name in an unnumbered cell, as he called his book in which he described his kidnapping, imprisonment and torture, all for nothing – the usual nothing of those days. The newspaper was going to be placed in receivership and shut down, along with the sudden final airing of television program “Tiempo Nuevo” (New Times), hosted by Bernardo Neustadt on Channel 11, and other supposedly preventive closures and receiverships.

Michelini, 52, was found dead the day after his birthday, on May 21, 1976, at 9:20 p.m. in a red Torino sedan that had been abandoned at the corner of Perito Moreno and Dellepiane in Buenos Aires. Also found in the automobile were the bodies of the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of Uruguay, Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz, 51, who had been living in exile in Buenos Aires since the June 27, 1973, military coup in his country, and of Tupamaros militants William Whitelaw Blanco, 29, and Rosario del Carmen Barredo de Schroeder, 26, both also Uruguayans and living in Buenos Aires since the military coup in Chile of September 11, 1973. All of them, abducted three days earlier, had been tortured and shot; they had their hands and feet bound. Also kidnapped was Benjamín Liberof, 55, a Communist doctor born in Argentina and a naturalized Uruguayan, whose whereabouts remain unknown.

“An autopsy on the bodies led to the identification of three of them – Zelmar, Michelini, Gutiérrez and Barredo de Schroeder – their names also being found on flyers found inside the automobile in which a subversive group claimed responsibility for the deaths, according to a statement issued by the Argentine Federal Police. “The bodies sowed signs of having been shot several times and were tied up.”
It was quite a show, starting with the flyers. The interior minister, Gen. Albano Harguindeguy, ordered an immediate in-depth investigation, as in-depth as in vain – another show, so it would all end up with nothing, as usual. “This sad event, which can have no other origin that the acts of subversion that afflict the Argentine people, is being used to attempt to discredit Argentina and hinder the resurgence of our country,” an official communiqué issued on May 25, a national holiday, said, as published in Buenos Aires newspapers. The same thing had been said in Montevideo by the Uruguayan Army commander in chief, Gen. Julio César Vadora.

The bodies shown signs of torture – cracked ribs, bruises, smashed skulls, broken necks. Forensic reports indicated that Michelini, Gutiérrez and Barredo de Schroeder were murdered the same day their bodies were found, May 21, and that they had been shot in the head at close range.
Three days earlier, on May 18, at 5:00 a.m., 10 to 12 armed men entered the Liberty Hotel at the corner of Corrientes Avenue and Florida Street and asked the front desk clerk for the key to room number 75, on the seventh floor, in which Michelini had been living since 1973. They told the hotel employees that they were carrying out an operation for the Navy. They were Argentine Army personnel, according to a formal complaint filed on April 16, 2004, with Judge Canicoba Corral by the Legal and Social Studies Center (CELS) on behalf of the relatives of Michelini and Gutiérrez.
“Zelmar, your time is up,” blurted out on the men as he opened the door.

They tied him up and blindfolded him. In the room were two of his sons, Zelmar Eduardo and Luis Pedro. They threw blankets over them and repeatedly asked them where were the guns, as they bundled up Michelini’s red Hermes portable typewriter, the binoculars that he used to take to the racetrack, tape recorder, slide projector, electric razor, wristwatch, 100 dollars, a bag and several folders containing news articles and personal correspondence.
“Where are they?” they shouted.
There were no guns.

“When they broke in the three of us were asleep,” said one of the sons in a book about his father and Gutiérrez. “I don’t even remember what time it was. I know it was early in the morning. They opened the door with a master key that a hotel employee had given them, or she herself used. Several people came in. I have been asked a number of times if I could identify them and I have said no. The only thing I remember is a square face with a heavy moustache, a heavy-set man in blue jacket…. The last thing he said to us was, ‘Call Louise.’ Louise was an American journalist who had led United States pressure on an international level, which became a great deal of pressure but which failed completely.”
In that downtown Buenos Aires district, Corrientes Avenue being famous as a street that never sleeps, police patrols were often seen. In front of the hotel was the state-owned telephone company ENTEL, guarded by military personnel. And the building that housed the United States embassy. That morning, the group that carried out the abduction had no problem whatsoever in parking their Ford Falcon vehicles before bursting into Michelini’s room, nor in bringing out packages wrapped in blankets without showing credentials.

Just three hours later a group with the same characteristics traveling in two Ford Falcons had entered the building where Gutiérrez lived, at Posadas 1011, fourth floor, in the upscale neighborhood of Recoletos near the embassies of Brazil, France, Rumania and Israel, permanently under guard. He could not even get dressed. Handcuffed and blindfolded he was dragged from his room. The operation, in which members of Federal Police and Armed Forces personnel took part, lasted an hour. They stole money, jewelry and documents and they cut the telephone line.

“He came home around 12:30p.m. and I had not gone to bed yet,” said Gutiérrez’ wife, Matilde Rodríguez Larreta, in the book about her husband and Michelini. “We went to sleep and after what I had the sensation was just a short time – I don’t know, I didn’t look at the clock, it could have been one hour, two hours, three hours, I don’t know – they banged on the door, really banged hard on the door, an old door to an old apartment. Our bedroom was close to it, and we immediately jumped up. When we got to the door, it was already open, it had been knocked open. There was a very big man who had smashed it in, I don’t know how. He was a brute! It was him and four others – I think I saw five people, but I could be wrong. It was a terrible shock. They took on a really violent attitude. I always thought that they were acting as if drugged, because violence like that against people they did not know, that they have no idea who it is …. They were there a long time and they stole absolutely everything, everything you can imagine. They were there a long time, although it is difficult to say how long, but it was more than an hour. It was a very long time. Meanwhile my husband was there, in the living room. They went around the whole house; they went into the children’s room. They emptied it all out, the valuable objects, what a brute force to dig them out! They knew exactly where everything was and they took it all, all of it – money, jewels, everything that might have any value. Everything. They ransacked the whole house.”

The following morning Gutiérrez’ wife went to the police station with the intention of filing a complaint. They told her, “Don’t waste your time, lady. Make a habeas corpus, if you want. It won’t do any good, you’ll just waste paper. But do it.” They did not want to take a statement either from the front desk clerk at the Liberty Hotel, where Michelini had been abducted. He was told, “they had been informed that various joint operations were under way in the neighborhood and the one he wanted to complain about could be one of them.”

In both cases, the theft of personal belongings came to be classified as a mere loss. Gutiérrez’ wife sent cables to the de facto Argentine president, Jorge Rafael Videla, Interior Minister Harguindeguy, the chief of the Federal Police and the commanders of the three branches of the Armed Forces. In response to international pressure in the following days, the response of the Argentine government could not be more evasive and grotesque: “In certain cases, there do not exist the respective complaints to the police in the capital.” Nor did the Uruguayan ambassador in Buenos Aires, Gustavo Magariños, take any action, according to the complaint filed by family members.

“This lack of sensitivity on the part of the authorities reached the point that on May 22 that year (a day after the discovery of the bodies) a daughter of Michelini and Mrs. Gutiérrez were forced to make notarized notice of proceeding, meticulously denouncing the criminal acts,” the Uruguayan congressional commission that investigated the crimes concluded. The victims’ homes had never been visited by the police.

In Buenos Aires, Michelini worked in the international political section of the newspapers Noticias, first, and then La Opinión. At the same time he acquired a newsstand that was manned by his sons. He led a very austere life, as Silvera indicates in his statement. But he had become one of the leading spokesmen of the Uruguayan resistance, denouncing human rights violations in his country. The then foreign minister, Juan Carlos Blanco, pressured the Héctor Cámpora government in Buenos Aires to have him deported, along with Senator Enrique Erro, also in exile in Argentina.

Shortly before his abduction, on May 5, 1976, Michelini delivered a letter to a La Opinión reporter, Roberto García. He asked that it be published only in the even that something happened to him. He seems to have had a premonition. The letters said, “I have recently received telephoned threats about a possible attempt on my life and, in addition, my forcible removal to Montevideo. Information is also reaching me that Uruguayan [Foreign] Minister Blanco is said to have raised with the Argentine authorities the need for me to get out of this country. I do not know what the future course of events might be, but in case a Uruguayan commando does indeed force me out of the country, I am writing these lines for you to know that I do not have, and have not had, any intention of leaving Argentina and that if the Uruguayan government says that I am in some part of Uruguay, it is because I have been taken there arbitrarily, without being asked and by force. It wold not be the first time that an attempt is made to make it look like a voluntary action when it is really it is something that is imposed by abuse of power and savagery. I am sorry to bother you and I am grateful for the use that you make, should it be necessary, of this confidence. Your friend, Zelmar Michelini.”

Two days later, on May 7, Foreign Minister Blanco met in Buenos Aires with his Argentine counterpart, César Augusto Guzzetti. It was a lightning visit. Subsequently, the determination of the case of Michelini and Gutiérrez was voted on in a session of the Uruguayan National Security Council (Cosena), according to a photocopy of a document provided by Senator Alberto Zumarán to the congressional investigative commission and the testimony of the archbishop of Montevideo, Carlos Parteli.
With the exception of the Uruguayan de facto president, Juan María Bordaberry, and the commander in chief of the Air Force, Brigadier Dante Paladín, the panel (the interior minister, Gen. Hugo Linares Brum; the defense minister, Walter Ravenna; the Army commander-in-chief, Gen. Vadora, and the Navy commander-in-chief, Rear Admiral Víctor González Ibargoyen, as well as an Argentine military officer) decided that they should be executed.

Seven years is nothing

The enigmatic Silvera must have shaken his head in his cell, convinced that the investigation, encouraged by Videla, was going to go nowhere – as usual at the time – on the premise that the military regime that had come to power barely 58 days before the Michelini and Gutiérrez murders, of orientating, or deflecting, public opinion to an alley with no way out – the virtual participation of the Montoneros, the Tupamaros of the People’s Revolutionary Army (ERP), among other leftist factions that were operating underground, in a quadruple murder that had all the hallmarks of state terrorism, still in its infancy. It had all the hallmarks of a repression that would not respect national borders, inscribed in the norms of an almost anonymous society among the region’s intelligence services – Operation Condor.

“The first time I saw Campos Hermida was in late March,” Silvera said. “I knew he was the police chief in Montevideo, but I had never seen him before, although he practically lived in Buenos Aires. As I learned later, he had 15 men under him, all Uruguayans, without counting those from here that sometimes collaborated with them.”

Silvera did not mention Operation Condor in his nine-page, legal-size, typewritten statement, apparently written before 1978, in which he gives details of a dirty job that, despite being that, was going to be “safe, tranquil.” In it he also talks of the intention of murdering another Uruguayan politician, Wilson Ferreira Aldunate. There were two groups, it seems, but one failed.

“Campos Hermida was brought to me by Miguel Castañeda, an ex-boxer who was now involved in dirty work and who … knew many of the Feds,” Silvera said. “I spent seven years in the Federal Police and Miguel also knew me from there. Campos told me he had a good job for which he needed a man without problems and with experience. He said it was a safe, tranquil job because it was being handled by General Ojeda, a man who carried a lot of weight. He said that they, the Uruguayans, were working at full speed and they could not handle all they had to do, so through a deputy police chief called Soria he had talked to Ojeda to recommend some men. According to what Campos told me, Soria had told him that Ojeda had told Soria to leave the matter in his hands and Soria had thought of me, among others. Soria contacted Miguel, because he knew that Miguel was an acquaintance of mine, and Miguel brought me Campos.”

Two brigadier generals by the name of Ojeda – Edmundo R. and Edmundo René – figure on the lists of oppressors in those dark years. One of them was freed under terms of the Punto Final (End Sentence) law, the other under the Due Obedience law. Edmundo R. was in the first half of 1976 chief of Sub-Zone 12; he had under his command the La Huerta de Tandil and Monte Pelone clandestine detention centers, the Las Flores Investigation Brigade and the Federal Police unit in Azul. The other Ojeda, Edmundo René, was tried on charges of unlawful privation of liberty while he was deputy commander of Military Institutes, in which the Campo de Mayo clandestine detention center operated. The first Ojeda, now dead, reported directly to Interior Minister Harguindeguy.

“We met one Saturday at a bar named Unión in the [Buenos Aires neighborhood of] the Bajo, near the bar of tango singer Edmundo Rivero. Campos Hermida explained to me that it had to do with making some shadowing,” Silver said. “I only had to follow the people that he would tell me, find out where they lived, with whom they met and things like that. He told me that I would have to pass the information on someone by the name of Blanco, also from the Uruguayan Police, who would be working on the same thing. He told me that he was going to give me 300 dollars a months and some more money for expenses. I asked him for 400, and he said yes, there was no problem. Later, Blanco told me that CH had a budget of 8,000 dollars for these expenses, but I could never prove that.”

In Silvera’s statement there appear 16 of the 40 people implicated, or involved, in the murder, according to Rafael Michelini, one of Michelini’s 10 children, a federal senator like his father, as well as frequent contacts between Argentine, Uruguayan, Chilean and Brazilian oppressors and the participation of the Argentine Federal Police, of the Triple A (a far-right organization created in August 1973 by the Argentine Social Security minister, José López Rega, private secretary to Perón during his exile in Madrid), and of the United States embassy in Buenos Aires. It is certainly a strange document, with words crossed out and hand-written corrections, and a lot of pseudonyms. It was discovered almost by accident by a Uruguayan living in exile in Paris as he was packing up his belongings before returning to Montevideo.

“Blanco had at least three automobiles,” Silvera said, “a Ford Falcon, which belonged to the Federal Police, a red Renault and a Rural, all with false license tags from Córdoba province. CH from time to time went to Córdoba and Tandil, as well as other places, but preferably to Córdoba and Tandil. From some things that they led me to believe, I think that Tandil was one of the general barracks that they had, because every time he came back from Tandil he brought new instructions. There in Tandil he would meet with Ojeda. I don’t know what role Ojeda played, but he was an important guy in the matter, because from time to time CH would say that Ojeda had decided this or that.”

The only likeness to Silvera that a former CIA agent who investigated the case found was a man of the same name who had joined the Federal Police on November 1, 1976, and who had left the service on August 6, 1978 – both dates after the quadruple murder. File number 16,298 says that he was born on August 9, 1948, in Lomas de Zamora, Buenos Aires province. He was 5 foot 8 inches tall. He was unmarried. He had completed the fourth year of Technical School. Curiously, the addresses of the homes of his two brothers in Remedios de Escalada, Buenos Aires province, had reverse numbers – 4521 and 1254. The author of the document confesses to only one daughter, who turned 6 in late April 1976. Rafael Michelini discounted this lead, convinced that the statement was “very real” but the name of its author was fictitious.

“In fact, they received instructions from Montevideo, but the operational part, from what I have learned, was in Buenos Aires, in Ojeda’s hands,” said Silvera. “A collaborator of Ojeda that we knew as Tito traveled two or three times a month to Brazil and I believe that he brought money from there, too. We called him ‘Brasileiro’ (The Brazilian). Although I always saw him dressed as a civilian I know that he was a military man, but I do not know his rank. One day CH let it escape that there were meetings in Brazil in which he had participated. The day he said so he had had one too many drinks and he related how each time he went to Brazil he would fuck a black woman that he had met there.”

In two hours over just one cup of coffee in bar in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Caballito, the so-called Tito, skinny, of medium height, with balding gray hair, would only avoid my questions. He was a retired military man. He was born, like Ojeda, in Concordia, Entre Ríos province. From 1976 to 1978, he said, he had taken training courses in Bonn and Cologne, Germany. For that reason, he went on; he had had nothing to do with the deaths of Michelini and Gutiérrez. No way. He told me, “Look, first an American general with a Puerto Rican accent ’phoned me. He told me that he needed my collaboration. I replied to him that I didn’t know what he was talking about. He insisted, ‘General, I’m with you.’ I told him I wasn’t interested in the matter, and he did not call me again.”

The American general was the former CIA agent who investigated the case, I presume. I met with him also to try and tie up the loose ends in Silvera’s testimony. He was going to meet with the so-called Tito at Florida Garden, a Buenos Aires bar famous for its clientele – all spies. The appointment in the end did not materialize and Tito was nervous, beset by ghosts from a past that if it were part of his history he did not want to relive – he wanted to see it all dead and buried, as he declared dead and buried the dirty war itself.

“The first thing that he (Campos Hermida) gave me to do was to keep watch on the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) office on Suipacha Street,” Silver said. “Blanco took me there, we were there for a while and when someone came out that Blanco pointed out, I followed him.

Sometimes I went with Blanco, sometimes on my own. I did that for a few days there and at another United Nations office on Córdoba Street. CH appeared to be aware when someone he was interested in was going to go to one of those places. As he led me to believe, they had inside information.”

Reports by people abducted in those years point to Campos Hermida as one of those responsible for the repression of the Uruguayans, but attribute to Major Gavazzo the link with Operation Condor through the Anti-Subversive Operations Coordinating Agency (OCOA).

This link was ignored by the majority of Uruguayans who, besieged by the military dictatorship clamped on their country since 1973, sought refuge on the other side of the River Plate a little less than 25 miles from Montevideo. The link which came to light, at least for some, with the murders of Senator Michelini, a member of the Colorado party until he joined with others to form the Frente Amplio (Wide Front), and Representative Gutiérrez, of the Blanco (National) party, both abducted almost at the same time. Involved in the plan, according to the statement by Silvera, were seven Uruguayans, five Argentines, one Frenchman, one Paraguayan, one Chilean and one Puerto Rican, among others.

“The contacts with Blanco and CH we had in a number of bars and at a place in … [Rivadavia] and … (Maipu] streets,” Silvera says. “There was an office of some Uruguayans there, a kind of advertising agency or something like that. In fact, it was a Uruguayan Police post and they used the agency as a front. I believe that after the Michelini business they stopped using it, but I know that part of the Michelini thing was planned there, as we will see later. In all, I followed some eight people, among them two Chileans – six men and two girls.”

Gutiérrez, one of the victims, had denounced human rights violations in his country to European parliamentarians. Michelini had done the same in other international forums. The third man on the OCOA list, Ferreira Aldunate, managed to escape, taking refuge in Europe.

“One day CH told me in the agency that he was very pleased with my work he was going to give me some extra money,” Silvera said. “I think that in fact they had been testing me and now they were sure. That same day Brasileiro came to the agency accompanied by a … Uruguayan. He was a military intelligence officer who introduced himself as Sosa and said that he was bringing instructions ‘to speed things up’ and he had to speak urgently to Ojeda. I later came to understand that Sosa was referring to the thing about Michelini and the other congressman.”

In Uruguay, meanwhile, a subject of discussion was the succession of the de facto president, Bordaberry. There were those that favored a return to democracy, such as Economy Minister Alejandro Vegh Villegas; in Buenos Aires he had meetings with Michelini, Gutiérrez and Ferreira Aldunate. That was on May 9, 1976 – shortly before two of them were killed. He managed to irritate the military officers favoring maintaining the regime.

“CH began to swear and cuss, saying that there in Buenos Aires the matter was very hot and that it was very easy to order things from there, but you had to be here to know how things were,” Silvera said. “Sosa told him to calm down, that he was only the messenger and he should not get mad at him. CH Told him that they were busy with the drug traffickers and the Tupamaros and could not leave everything half done, and if they did they would hang him – CH – by the balls, because he had orders to take 25 people to Montevideo and now there was no stopping. The two then went to Córdoba and returned two days later. CH never mentioned the matter again, at least in front of me, although Blanco told me the CH was very worried, because they had given him a big job to do that could turn out to be very dangerous.”

Open, Sesame

At number 3518 Venancio Flores Street, at he corner of Emilio Lamarca, in Buenos Aires, there was an old two-story workshop, Orletti Automobiles, the sign outside said. For the Argentine military officers, along with their Uruguayan counterparts, it was El Jardín (The Garden). It belonged to the Army First Corps under the command of Carlos Guillermo Suárez Mason. It had a big door with a metal roll-up shutter and to the left a reinforced door with a peephole that opened automatically. The password, transmitted by radio, was Operation Sesame. Open, Sesame perhaps.

One of the survivors of Orletti Automobiles, Margarita Michelini Delle Piane, Zelmar’s daughter, saw her father’s portable typewriter, part of what they took during his abduction. Upstairs there was a room where interrogations took place, conducted by the Federal Police Superintendent’s Office, another for torture and a terrace where clothes were hung. Downstairs, the cement floor, covered in dirt and grease, was populated by stolen cars and chopped up chassis. A pulley hung over a water tank, from which they hanged prisoners to immerse them.

“Blanco made a trip to Montevideo and, as he always went by car, when he left CH asked me to be his driver until Blanco got back,” Silvera said. “I took him three times to the Security Superintendent’s Office, to the home of a guy named Márquez, Julio César, also a Uruguayan, and several times to the general aviation airport to pick up packages that they sent him from Uruguay. CH often met with the people from the Federal Security, I believe to coordinate operations and exchange information. One day he told me that the people from the Federal Security were working with them since ’71 and that prior to his handling the business of the Uruguayans in Buenos Aires, Security handled it directly and used to pass information weekly to Montevideo, to both Police headquarters and to military intelligence. I also learned that Morán Charquero, a Uruguayan police inspector that the Tupamaros killed, had previously been in direct contact with the Security people and SIDE (State Intelligence Department) through a Spanish journalist who worked at a Montevideo newspaper….”

Orietti Automobiles, the clandestine detention center where all the Uruguayans captured in Buenos Aires would end up, was handled on the Uruguayan side by Major Gavazzo and the director of the Defense Information Service (SID), Gen. Amauri Pranti and on the Argentine side by the director of SIDE, Gen. Otto Carlos Paladino, and agent Aníbal Gordon, who knew what was what because he had been working on the other side of the river with false Uruguayan Navy documents.

“Another guy that I learned had been involved in it was a Navy man, one Nader, that for a while was part of a commando operation in Montevideo that received information from Security about trips by suspicious Uruguayans to Buenos Aires and such things,” Silvera said. “Another one that CH would often see was a Puerto Rican, Jaime del Castillo … who did I don’t know what at the American embassy. This del Castillo had been mixed up in some troubles with Paino, the one that denounced the Triple-A.”

Salvador Horacio Paino, self-proclaimed founder of Argentine Anti-Community Alliance (AAA, also known as Triple-A or Three-A) was held in preventive detention on November 28, 1983, in Montevideo while Argentine Federal Judge José Nicasio Dibur conducted hearings on his extradition, under terms of the Treaty on International Criminal Law of January 23, 1889, ratified on October 3, 1892, by Uruguay and on December 11, 1894, by Argentina. The extradition request was in the end denied by the Uruguayan courts.

He was a Peronist militant who left the Army in 1955 with the rank of first lieutenant, later to be promoted to captain. He had been a contemporary of Reynaldo Bignone, the last head of the so-called National Reorganization Process, and Cristino Nicolaides, then commander-in-chief of the Army. He lived in Carmelo, some 90 miles from Montevideo. He had fled Argentina, headed for Brazil, on March 1, 1979, shortly after an attempt on his life. He thought of remaining in Uruguay and even looked for a job. But he set things alight, really stirring things up, to the point of testifying at the Argentine embassy in mid-October 1983, assigning to Triple-A the murder of the secretary general of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), José Ignacio Rucci, on September 25, 1973.


The Montevideo newspaper El Día published an advance of a book he wrote, titled “Yo fundé la Triple A” (I Founded the Triple-A), in which he claimed that in some 300 operations they had killed some 2,000 leftists. Among these were folk singer Jorge Cafrune; the priest Father Pedro Mujica; Peronist Congressman Rodolfo Ortega Peña, editor of the magazine Militancia, and Silvio Frondizi, brother of former Argentine President Arturo Frondizi. In 1976, he said, Triple-A had 2 million dollars worth of weapons “to confront the leftist terrorists.” They were in the basement of the Social Security Ministry. And he had piles of money, obtained from the so-called petty cash, with which “hundreds of informers, such as building doormen and people who pretended o be students, were hired.”

Cafrune died on January 31, 1978, after being knocked down by a truck on Route 27 near Benavidez, Buenos Aires province. He had planned to travel on horseback the 470 miles between the cities of Buenos Aires and Yapeyú. Because of the decision to liquidate Ortega Peña, shot to death in downtown Buenos Aires, Paino said that he left Triple-A in 1974. Until April of that year he was the head of organization and administration at the Social Security Ministry. In December 1973, he had received an order from his boss, López Rega, to create an armed structure to combat terrorism. “He suggested we talk informally and he told me what he wanted,” Paino said in an interview with a reporter from the Madrid publication Cambio 16 sent to Montevideo. “As I understood it, the terrorists were creating a lot of upheaval and they were not being combated as they should have been. He wanted us to organize something to stand up to them.”

Triple-A, or AAA, was going to be called Argentine Anti-Imperialist Alliance. It had as its objective, among other ridiculous ideas, the recovery of the Malvinas (Falklands) Islands, even if it were for only a few hours. The plan was rejected, apparently, by Perón. Initially there were 145 men who at the same time belonged to López Rega’s personal bodyguard. They were organized in eight groups, identified by the letters A to H.
“People blame the Armed Forces for the disappearances, but we used trucks on which we painted ‘Interior Ministry,’ ‘Equestrian School’ or ‘Regiment 601,’” Paino said. “There were no military people in Triple-A, they were all under the wing of López Rega and friends of his.”

In March 1976, a week before the coup, an investigative commission of the Argentine Chamber of Deputies caused a confrontation between Paino and Jorge Conti, former deputy press secretary. It was at the Villa Devoto jail in Buenos Aires, where an imprisoned former Social Security official had revealed details of Triple-A. López Rega and Carlos Villone, his secretary when he was a minister, had fled.
Conti, a former reporter for Channel 11, came to be famous – he even had his own fan club, created in 1972. Every week he would receive from them a ticket for a sports lottery in his name. He later hosted a television program with Gerardo Sofovich called “Las dos campanas” (The Two Bells) and took a charter flight to Argentina in which he obtained the only interview at the time with Perón, winning a bet with his colleague Sergio Villaruel, of Channel 13. There was one condition – the winner would travel with the other’s cameraman, so that both channels would have the scoop.

Shortly before, in June 1971, Paino had been interned in Unit 20 of the José Borda Psychiatric Hospital in Buenos Aires. “Apparently, the report of the forensic expert was detailed and convincing,” wrote Uruguayan journalist Tabaré de Paula. “He diagnosed delirium, symptoms of aggression, a diminishing of reasoning that called out for Salvador Horacio Paino to be interned in that nightmare with bars that is Unit 20. But all that doctoral prose contained a misstatement – it was said to be based on an examination that in fact had not taken place. The author of this report never examined the alleged insane man.”

Insane or not, Paino is named by Silvera in his statement because of the relationship that he had with del Castillo, the supposed Puerto Rican who frequented the American embassies in Buenos Aires and Montevideo. A former American intelligence agent connected with the CIA told me that del Castillo used another name, Richard Vargas, and at one time was close to Vladimiro Montesinos, the eminence gris of Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori and of the Colombian paramilitaries.

“Del Castillo got together regularly with CH until he went to Venezuela,” Silvera said. “I think that he is still … there. He certainly was a CIA type. He dressed very well and always had a lot of money. He had lived for three or four years in Montevideo, when he worked at the American embassy in Uruguay. He was a close friend of Ojeda and everything pointed to the belief that he was one of the contacts between Ojeda, CH and other people. He also traveled to Brazil every now and then and sometimes I believe he went with CH, according to what Blanco told me. CH told me that one day he would take me with him to Brazil, if Ojeda did not make any problem. That del Castillo had a group of people who … always went around with him, two or three guys that went everywhere with him. Among them was a Frenchman who had been in Algeria and who, according to Blanco, was a shooting instructor. The Frenchman was also one of those who used to travel to Córdoba and Tandil, I believe as a guard or something like that. I later came to learn that he had a karate school in Flores, which CH sometimes used to hold meetings. CH, del Castillo and Brasileiro used to meet there. I never went to the school, but Blanco did and so did Sosa.”

In the event that Silvera’s testimony is true, the CIA would have been involved in the murder along with other military regimes in the region enrolled in Operation Condor – a matter that was covered up at the time and has been gaining strength since with statements being made by participants or protagonists, such as Uruguayan Rear Admiral Eladio Moll. He stunned Congressman José Mujica, a former Tupamaro and member of the Chamber of Deputies investigative commission, when he said, “I am proud to say that you are there and your friends remained alive because there are Uruguayan armed forces, as the order from the Gringos (Americans) was it was not worth letting any guerrilla live after obtaining information from him.” Why did they kill Michelini and the others, then? For lack of leadership, he speculated. Or because of human nature. Or because of independent decisions.
“Sosa had been in Buenos Aires a number of times,” Silvera said. “He had certain superiority over CH and although this bothered CH he had no choice but to accept it, because the activity that the Uruguayan police undertake in Argentina is supervised by military intelligence. CH has some flexibility to act but the military intelligence sets the objectives and he has to comply. There were always problems with CH because he did a lot of things according to his own criteria and never gave an account of the money he handled for salaries and expenses and Sosa used to tell him to be careful, to be straight. Sosa, I learned, had been in charge of the groups that had taken people to Montevideo. I know that on at least two occasions they took people in the steamship Vapor de la Carrera and others in a Uruguayan Air Force plane from [Buenos Aires airport] Ezeiza.”

The violence left its mark. But it had no trademark, however. Triple-A acted as the state terrorism, but in fact it was a kind of paramilitary cell in which apparently the same oppressors did not participate. There were also links, links that López Rega – nicknamed El Brujo (The Witchdoctor) for his belief in supernatural powers and his influence on President María Estela Martínez de Perón, known as Isabel – took to his grave on June 9, 1989. He was born on October 17, 1916. He was arrested in 1986 in the United States after being at large for a decade. He died in Argentina while awaiting trial.
“Working with Sosa on these things was another Uruguayan officer, also from the Army, named Tasca, Juan Manuel Tasca, who was living in Buenos Aires,” Silvera said. “This Tasca had an enormous phobia of all leftists and he was in charge, along with Sosa and the Márquez that I mentioned before, of the interrogations that they made to the people they used to round up in Buenos Aires. For that he had a home in Palermo that previously had been a place for López Rega’s people, Triple-A. Collaborating with them in the interrogations was a Paraguayan and I know that they coordinated some things with a Chilean who was from DINA. This Chilean was also an important guy and also used go to the Superintendent’s Office from time to time. Del Castillo was a close buddy of the Chilean and they often went out to party together, sometimes with CH.”

In April 1977 journalist Edgardo Sajón disappeared. He was editor-in-chief of La Opinión, where Michelini used to work, and former press secretary of former de facto president Agustín Lanusse. Paino said that he has not been executed by that organization but “on the orders of a general who was minister of the Argentine Process, because he knew too much.”
Timerman began to publish items on the front page simply titled Sajón and reporting briefly on how long it had been since there was any news of what had happened to him or his whereabouts despite inquiries by state security agencies. Sajón had investigated Michelini’s death, even to the point of asking Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera, one of the three members of the ruling military junta, about what had happened to him. His disappearance coincided with that of other journalists, such as Rodolfo Fernández Pondal, managing editor of the weekly Ultima Clave.

In a meeting with Timerman, Massera said he had no idea who had kidnapped Sajón. Lanusse had a similar response form Videla. Enrique Jara, managing editor of La Opinión, was to disappear later. A second item with the same characteristics was going to appear on page one before Timerman himself was arrested and tortured.

Paino had witnesses an attack on the newspaper Clarín’s presses. He said that with the owner, Julio Noble, dead a news editor had been abducted. “As the price for his freedom, Clarín had to publish articles attacking López Rega and his son-in-law [Raúl] Lastiri, provisional president of Argentina in July to October 1973, and his wife. Triple-A then decided to give them a lesson.” From a car parked across the street could be seen how the operation went down – “López Rega’s men burst into the pressroom and smashed everything they could,” he said. “But the paper carried on publishing.”
At the time of the request for his extradition to Argentina, denied by the Uruguayan courts, Paino was interned at the Maciel state hospital in Montevideo under the custody of Interpol-Uruguay agents. He was suffering from a heart ailment. When he was declared recovered by Dr. Jorge Tombo, his Uruguayan wife, Sofia Ferreira, said “he is perfectly well.” But the Montevideo police chief, Col. Washington Varela, warned that he had to have absolute rest and be given oxygen, diuretics, stimulants and sedatives.

“In general terms it could be said that Sosa and CH were the head of the group,” Silver said. “Del Castillo was a liaison with Ojeda and I suppose with the [United States] embassy or the CIA. Blanco and Soria were in charge of the tailings and later I also took charge of that. In addition, Blanco was in charge of contacts with the people who provided information. As I said, there 15 other men, all Uruguayans, who were instructed to carry out operations. CH went out with them often to look for people, but on those occasions when Sosa was in Buenos Aires he was in charge. In general, when they went to look for someone they turned the job over to the Federal Police people, all linked to Soria. Soria had a lot of clout and was the one who maintained close contact with Ojeda and with the Interior Ministry. Each time they were going to do something Soria went to the Interior Ministry and informed them. Ojeda was in charge operationally, as I said before, and there was another guy, Ramírez, a Uruguayan military officer, I believe a general, that I never saw but who CH and others named all the time. This Ramírez, from what I could find out, also had a lot of clout in the Interior Ministry and he was the one that coordinated with Ojeda. I believe he was an important guy, but from what I know only Sosa, Soria and of course Ojeda used to speak personally to him whenever he came to Buenos Aires. They all worked with great support from the Federal Police and SIDE. The contact with SIDE was CH and sometimes Sosa when he was in Buenos Aires. Del Castillo also had friends in SIDE and on occasion accompanied CH when the latter had to go to SIDE.”

It was in April

The plan against Michelini and Gutiérrez, according to Silvera, had been drawn up in mid-April at a place at Rivadavia and Maipu [streets] in Buenos Aires leased by Uruguayans, in an advertising agency or something of the kind operated. It had belonged to Triple-A. Campos Hermida and a Uruguayan intelligence officer were the heads of the group. Another Uruguayan military officer, Ramírez, with the rank of general, apparently, and Ojeda, an Argentine, close to Interior Minister Harguindeguy, were in charge of the operational part.

“I now remember that CH also received money from the Chileans, because on one occasion Blanco and he were angry, saying that the Chileans had not paid yet,” Silvera said. “From the Interior Ministry CH and Sosa would call Montevideo almost every day. The one who called most was Sosa, but CH also used to call.”

Others implicated by Silvera were Miguel Castañeda, a former boxer; a deputy police chief named Soria; Blanco, a police officer; a collaborator of Ojeda named as Tito or Brasileiro in the statement; Julio César Márquez (or Marques); Juan Manuel Tasca, and del Castillo, the CIA agent.
“It was in mid-April when CH told me that they were planning the Michelini business,” Silvera said. “He told me at the agency. There were Sosa, Soria, del Castillo, Blanco, Márquez and I, in addition to CH. Sosa said that Michelini and the other congressman were ‘condemned to death,’ but they did not have to touch them. Sosa said that all they had to do was take them to interrogate them to the house in Palermo and then let them go. Sosa was the one that explained how everything was. He said that everything was already arranged by the Interior [Ministry] and that Ramírez wanted it to be a clean job, without problems. He said that Ramírez was personally in charge of the matter and he would answer only to the Ministry of his country. He said that Ramírez had put him in charge of the work in Buenos Aires and that Ojeda was supervising everything. He said that the first thing that had to be done was to keep an eye on Michelini and the other one so as to know if there was a possibility of obtaining other leads that would lead to other people besides those already tagged. Sosa and CH had a list of some 20 important people, all of them Uruguayans, that were in contact with the congressmen and they wanted to see whether the list could be enlarged, to take more people to Montevideo or to interrogate them in Buenos Aires and obtain more information.”

Michelini, according to Silvera, had realized that he was being watched. But he did not change his routine. “His brother sometimes came from Montevideo, as did other people connected to him, and CH knew in advance when friends of Michelini came from Montevideo and he advised me to be on the alert,” Silvera said. “Almost every day CH, Blanco and also Sosa reviewed the flight passenger lists and also received information from Montevideo about travel through the Uruguayan embassy. Sosa was the one most handling those things and the Interior [Ministry] let Montevideo know when the people that had come were about to go back, what they were doing in Buenos Aires and who they saw and all that. They had a lot of people from the Federal [Police] working on that, besides the Uruguayans who were in Buenos Aires.”

The outcome grew closer and closer. As of April 20 no date had been set, Silvera said. Sosa, in a meeting held at the place, was furious – del Castillo had said that his contact (another anonymous link in the case) was not sure of the advisability, or the opportunity, of carrying out the plan.

“In fact, CH limited himself to obeying orders, although it seems to me that the business very much,” Silvera said. “Sosa said he had planned the job for it to be done by Argentines and that the Superintendent’s Office and the Interior [Ministry] were already taking action in the case. He said that they had to go to Michelini’s place and the home of the other one, Gutiérrez, at the same time and that another group would try to take care of Ferreira Aldunate, another Uruguayan politician who was in Buenos Aires. He said that in all 40 men were taking part, all Argentines but he and two other Uruguayans, that he did not name, who were going to come from Montevideo and take part in the thing. He said that those two men who were going to come were from Military Intelligence, from the Army. Afterwards, one of them did not come and was replaced by one from the Navy. Despite what Sosa said, at the last moment Márquez was added and he, too, took part, I believe on the orders of Ramírez. CH said at that meeting that the Ferreira thing seemed to him to be madness. He also said that any of the three … could resist, because they were no fools and that if that happened they would have to be whacked, and that could cause problems. Sosa said that the orders he had were to get them out alive and take them to Palermo. Then they would await orders there.”

Aware of the plan were Brazilians and Chileans from the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA), an agency headed by Col. Manuel Contreras, one of the mentors of Operation Condo. To inform them, according to Sosa, was part of the deal, as had happened in 1974, according to Silvera, with the murder of Chilean general Carlos Prats and his wife, Sofía Cuthbert, living in exile in Buenos Aires following the overthrow of Salvador Allende. At that time, the Chileans had reported to the Uruguayans.

“Sosa went to Tandil for a few days and when he returned we met again at the agency, I believe on April 24 or 25,” Silvera said. “Sosa said that everything was now under way and that the following day he was going to talk to people from the Interior [Ministry] to begin to learn the details. He said that there was 30,000 dollars to get the thing going and that more money would be coming later. CH asked who was going to bring the money and Sosa and del Castillo said that they would be bringing it. The told me to continue shadowing the senator and CH would contact a Brazilian, not the one mentioned previously, another one who had links with Gutiérrez, to find out certain things. It seems that the Brazilian had been living in exile in Montevideo but was now working with CH’s people and had a lot of information.”

Silvera began to smell a rat as the business got hotter. “It would be done at any moment,” he said. He talked to Blanco and Sosa about his misgivings about ‘whacking’ a senator and a congressman, calling them generically congressmen. One of them replied to him that he was crazy, that nothing like that was going to happen. He advised to get out of it if he was not sure. Campos Hermida apparently knew of his doubts.

Silvera said, “More or less four days later they pulled me out of shadowing Michelini and they sent me to Córdoba to get some weapons, that were given to me by another Uruguayan, who they called Pedro, who I later learned was from the police and was named Sánchez, Héctor Sánchez. That Sánchez was living in Córdoba and acting as a bookseller but he had four men working for him keeping watch on Chileans and Uruguayans. The weapons he gave me I brought back in Blanco’s Ford Falcon and I gave them to CH. They were three assault rifles and six or seven .45’s. I am not sure because they gave them to me wrapped up in a box and I did not even look at them. CH gave me 200 dollars for that job, he paid for my expenses in Córdoba and on top of that gave 50,000 Argentine pesos to buy something for my daughter whose 6th birthday was that day.”

That was one of Silvera’s last collaborations in the Michelini-Gutiérrez case, he said. He later learned that after they were abducted they were taken to Palermo (to Orletti Automobiles) and from there to a military barracks. Meanwhile he acted as a messenger, on one occasion taking for Campo Hermida a shoebox full of tape recordings to del Castillo, in the American embassy, and at the same time packet that he thought contained cash.
“They went on to give me things like that until May 12 or 14, more or less, I don’t recall that well, when CH told me that he was going to Montevideo and would be spending a few days there,” Silvera said. “During all that time they did not say a word to me again about the Michelini affair and I never again saw CH or Soria … or the others. I only had contact with Blanco. When they took Michelini and the other one, I found out from the newspapers. And also from the newspapers I learned that the bodies had been found. I went to the agency to look for Blanco and Blanco took me to see CH. I told him I did not want to go on any more, but before speaking to him Soria arrived and it was then that he told me to watch out, because I could get into trouble, as a scapegoat. I told CH that … I was leaving, and I went home.”

Country of paradoxes

Two streets in Montevideo are named for Zelmar Michelini and Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz, under terms of an ordinance from city hall in 1985. The two were buried in different cemeteries and at different times than those scheduled, so as to avoid disturbances. Uruguayan newspapers could only publish death notices by family members and friends, nothing of a political bent. The families of the other victims whose bodies were found in the same automobile, William Whitelaw Blanco and Rosario del Carmen Barredo de Schroeder, were denied to right to hold a wake for them.

“It’s a country of paradoxes, I say, where those who murdered Zelmar Michelini and Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz can walk about peacefully and without being punished, on streets that carry the names of Zelmar Michelini and Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz,” said Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano. “It’s a country of paradoxes where many politicians complain, in the strongest terms, of the inefficiency of the government after those very politicians, or at least their parties, have filled the government with parasites and useless bureaucrats who live the life of Reilly at the expense of the country.”
At the Central Cemetery, where Michelini was buried, the Republican Guard (mounted police) dispersed a crowd that had gathered at the entrance. Police snatched away a Uruguayan flag wrapped around Gutiérrez Ruiz’s coffin at the Buceo Cemetery.

Mario Heber, chairman of the Blanco Party to which Gutiérrez belonged, was arrested. The Uruguayan government issued no statement about the death of the two, one of them a former minister and senator, the other former speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, turning a blind eye to them.
Michelini was born on May 20, 1924, in Montevideo. He headed the Uruguayan Federation of University Students in the 1940s. He was briefly involved in labor union activities and was secretary to Luis Batlle Berres when he was Uruguayan president in 1947-1951. The following year he entered Congress as a representative of the Colorado Party. In 1967, as representative of Agrupación 99, founded by him within the party, he went on to become a senator. In the Oscar Gestido government he served as minister of industry and commerce, then resigned in disagreement with the adoption of security measures and returned to the Senate. In November 1971, he was re-elected senator by the Frente Amplio, a left-of-center coalition formed in early February of that year. Shortly afterwards, on April 17, 1972, a missile fired from a grenade launcher damaged his house, including smashing a window over the crib where one of his children lay. A group of unidentified people had earlier attempted to set fire to his automobile, parked outside the house.

Gutiérrez was born on February 21, 1934, in Montevideo. Since his youth he was active in the National [Blanco] Party. In 1962, along with other party members, he formed the April 8 Movement, named for the date of the death of party leader Luis Alberto de Herrera. Some time later, with two party leaders, he re-launched the newspaper El Debate, publishing it until it was finally shut down in December 1967 on the orders of the then Uruguayan President Jorge Pacheco Areco. He was elected to Congress in 1966 and re-elected in 1971, and in 1972, at the start of the congressional sessions, was named speaker of the Chamber of Deputies amidst a tough confrontation with de facto president Bordaberry. He was re-elected speaker in 1973 and was a member of the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).
Bordaberry on June 26, 1973, dissolved both houses of the Uruguayan Congress. Michelini had traveled to Buenos Aires, at the request of the Frente Amplio, to warn Uruguayan Senator Erro about the danger of his returning to his homeland. He himself decided to stay and request political asylum, granted by the Argentine government on September 13, 1973. Gutiérrez also went into exile in Buenos Aires after living underground for five days in his own country.

In Montevideo, Elisa Lucía Michelini Delle Piane, Zelmar’s eldest daughter, was arrested and taken to the Artillery Group1 on suspicion of having belonged to the Tupamaros. In a letter addressed to Dr. Carlos Quijano dated April 13, 1975, Michelini said, “My things, the same. My daughter continues to be mistreated. They want to make her crazy, and me too. I assure you that all that process has me very worried, as it is clear that they are holding her hostage.”

His daughter’s situation was the subject of concern in successive letters that did not manage to lessen his anguish:
• March 18, 1975: “This past week has been tremendous, as I have been … extremely worried…. A military patrol took my daughter from Cabildo to a barracks we have heard nothing of her for a week now. They are interrogating her and we do not know about what, although we do know how and with what procedures they do it. You will imagine my nerves, my concern, my anger, my impotence. It has all been tremendous and so far nothing has been clarified….”

• March 19, 1975: “No news of my daughter. Today, Wednesday the 19th, I continue to know nothing. And it is already 10 days since hey took her away. Remember that it was 30 months (!!) ago that she was jailed and they took her out, they transferred her to a barracks. For what reason? In addition, the revealing fact that they are hatching something: every time the mother or some lawyer asked about her, the reply is the same: You mean you daughter of the senator? For that, as you see, I continue being a senator (!!).”

• March 24, 1975: “They have tortured her again, after 30 months of holding her in custody (!!). The lawyers have told me that she had it quite bad, but the worst was already over, the mother could not see her. They say they have in ‘recovery.’”

• March 29, 1975: “No news from Eli. We know that they have tortured her, electric prod, dousing in water, beatings, being kept standing up, and the poor thing is taking time to recover….”

• April 10, 1975: “The news of Eli are terrifying. They have been unable to see her, they don’t allow visitors. We know that they did to her everything that I mentioned – beatings, standing up, electric prod, dousing in water and all kinds of abuse. And now, by word from a cellmate who in turn told her mother, it is learned that they told her I had been killed and the poor girl spent quite a few days anguished about that, until this other girl told her it was not true. Besides that, they had told her they had killed me because she refused to talk….”

• April 18, 1975: “No news of Eli …. It is already 40 days now…. I have received some annoying calls, telling me that ‘for my own good’ not to go and talk to the people of the North….”
• April 22, 1975: “There was another call about ‘the problems that could be brought to my children and I by this treason to my country of going to complain to the Yankees.’ I have decided to ignore them….”
In 1985, 24 hours after assumption of power of the first democratic government of Uruguay since the dictatorship, headed by Julio María Sanguinetti, military courts ordered the release of 111 political prisoners. Among them was Elisa Michelini Delle Piane, detained with 10 other women at the Punta de Rieles military center on the outskirts of Montevideo.

Halfway through his statement, Silvers said, “I never killed anyone or tortured anyone. I take responsibility for what I did, but nobody can call me a murderer or a torturer and they wanted to implicate me in one of those things. The one that warned me about it was Sosa. He told me that with the all the hue and cry perhaps they were looking for a scapegoat so as to calm things done. Then I went and told CH that I was leaving and he told me that it was all right, that it was a pity but if I did not want to continue, then go. He gave me some money and I went home. I was thinking of taking the family out of Buenos Aires, but two hours later the Federal [Police] came to look for me. They brought out an old matter and took me away.”

At the end of his statement, Silvera said, “then they went to look for me.”
Like it was nothing. And he himself implicated, or involved, in a horrendous, brutal, appalling crime that remained wrapped in nothing. In the usual nothing of those times.

Sources
Document on the murder of Zelmar Michelini, provided to the author by Rafael Michelini
Michelini Body Found, La Nación newspaper, Buenos Aires, May 23, 1976
Official communiqué on the murders, La Nación, Buenos Aires, May 25, 1976
A Great Harm, La Nación, Buenos Aires, May 30, 1976
Petition filed by family members of Zelmar Michelini and Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz with the sponsorship of the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), Buenos Aires, April 16, 2004
Claudio Trobo, State Murder, Who Killed Michelini and Gutiérrez Ruiz? Ediciones de Caballo Perdido,
Montevideo, 2003

Jacobo Timerman, Prisoner With No Name, No Cell Number, Ediciones de la Flor, Buenos Aires, 2000
The Murders of Legislators Zelmar Michelini and Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz, newspaper La República, Montevideo, August 2001

Miguel Bonasso, The Shadow of the Condor, newspaper Página/12, Buenos Aires, August 5, 2001
Paino Seeks Work in Uruguay, La Nación, Buenos Aires, September 17, 1983
Paino Will Not Come to the Country to Testify, La Nación, Buenos Aires, September 23, 1983
“Triple-A, Author of 2,000 Deaths,” La Nación, Buenos Aires, October 28, 1983

López Rega Said to Have Ordered Murder of Jorge Carfune, La Nación, Buenos Aires, November 7, 1983
Statement by Paino about Triple-A, La Nación, Buenos Aires, November 18, 1983
Allegations by Paino Rejected, La Nación, Buenos Aires, November 21, 1983
Paino Extradition Requested of Uruguay, La Nacíon, Buenos Aires, December 2, 1983
Paino Discharged and Could Be Returned to His Country, newspaper La Voz, Buenos Aires, December 5, 1983

Paino Remains Interned, La Nación, Buenos Aires, December 7, 1983
Paino Jailed in Uruguay, La Nación, Buenos Aires, December 9, 1983
Uruguay Denies Salvador Paino Extradition, La Nación, Buenos Aires, August 24, 1984
Investigation of AAA, Clarín, Buenos Aires, February 9, 1976
The Case of Triple-A, Gente magazine, Buenos Aires, February 19, 1976
Deaths and Disappearances Were the Exceptions to the Rule, weekly Brecha, Montevideo, July 31, 2000

Armed Forces Free 111 political prisoners, La Nación, Buenos Aires, March 1, 1985
Eduardo Galeano, remarks in presentation of Seregni book, the following morning, weekly Brecha, Montevideo, July 25, 1997.

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