THEME: DESAPARECIDOS (missings)

When was life ever truly ours? When are we ever truly we are? ( Octavio Paz, 1957)

 

 

“Desaparecidos (Missings)”  is un project based on  my sensations about the illegal detention that I suffered with my father -when I was teenager- and the time that follow it. There was no place, none time, only that monotone, threatening and incommunicable present time that repeated day by day.
 
I was never a hero nor was I a militant.
 
When they release us -in my town- the only defense were the silence and the glances, both that of our people who kept next to my family as if the kidnapping had no happened at all, and those of neighbors who suddenly approached us with a silent solidarity look. My parents and I became resilients and that was thanks to those silence support and the words in the looks of those people.

 

Other relatives, friends and neighbors walked away fast from us and stopped immediately the relationship.
 
The world was still spinning but the repressors kept to coming to my house, I would meet them around any corner when I came home from school and from the “green Ford Falcon”, they would wave me, smile at me. And my parents and I, we had nowhere else to go. But, we were still alive and played to live a normal life. For my family situation, in that town and in that time, that was the escape.
 
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To my classmates I became invisible, they stopped greeting me and inviting me to birthdays, parties or mere after -class meetings.

 

But my boyfriend of those years and a few friends supported me with much respect, in silence about the "desaparecidos" issue. No had speeches about it, no questions about it. None kind of analysis or opinion or curiosity about what is a clandestine detention center. We simply continued with our usual bonding. I realize that their friendly presence by itself was healing. That nursed my resilience. As well also the actitud of my parents for keeping like ease themselves and protect me with honor, in silence but with honor. And at school too, none teacher said nothing, just I felt some glances were different, some with sadness and intense concern or others with contemptuous and distant curiosity.

 

The whole town pretended nothing had happened, and so did I, just I was struggling with unspeakable memories.

 

The violence kept inside me because I pretended not knowing what I knew. And I felt shame of my self. I desired to be part of the group of young people that did not know. I felt guilty for that. But now I know that in that war time and in my town, that was my route to get out. Years later, I could to say.

 

That 1977 I laughed with Les Luthiers in a theater of Buenos Aires with "Mastropiero que nunca" and the news on TV and news papers were dazzling by Nadia Comaneci. I screamed the goals of the victory when Argentina won the Soccer World Cup in 1978 though at the same time, I felt guilty and shame of my self.  I yes, I knew what nobody wanted to know or could believe. I just deeply desired to be a common young among the people of my town. It was a time when I admired Maya Plisétskaya, Nureyev,  Jorge Donn, Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Cezanne and Edward Hopper. To read Cortazar was forbidden but I enjoyed García Márquez y Jorge Amado, Carl Sagan and Ray Bradbury, Poe, Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle, Saint -Exupéry and Richard Bach. In those times, I could not understand Borges, neither Lewis Carroll. I listened Barbra Streisand,  Carpenters, Carly Simon, ABBA, “Saturday Night Fever",  Last train to London. Regarding national rock, mainly Charly García and Spinetta were my favorites. And Baroque music and Piazzolla, always. Zero mention of the issue of the “missings”. Only in  1980 Charly García´s song "Canción de Alicia en el país" scared me and I cried in silence because I was feeling uncovered, nude, in danger. I did not any mention to anybody about that. Even today that song provokes a very deep emotion.

 

Years later I new about the action of the director of the school, she warned nobody teacher or assistant should mention me anything bad about my family situation. Years later I became aware of the importance of the support of my father ´s employer. Years later, I knew about the resistance of my parents, since they convence to the para-militaries that controlled the town,  not to use me as a whistler-blower.  And years later, I know about two hight society people of my town were collaborating with the militaries. And one of them, pointed with his finger my family.

 

In 2011 I was called to the Trials for the Truth and at first I did not want to testify. Partly because I thought I didn't have nothing important to say and partly because I was being force getting into an intimacy from which I myself had fled and forgot all these years. But I finally gave my testimony, which with humility contributed to the continuation of the investigation initiated in 1984 by the CONADEP. My father and I did not know in which clandestine center we had been prisoners. Like other survivors with whom we "shared" the days of detention, we doubted between two places. It was in my statement and thanks to the questions of the judges, that I remembered a detail - a strange sound that sometimes appeared and disappeared suddenly - and thus they could determine what locate had been! I let several months go by, until I walked along the sidewalk of that place, located two blocks from the Cathedral of La Plata.

 

In 1984 all of us who had suffered illegal repression were afraid that the dictatorship would return. And they would arrest us again because of revenge and to alarm common people. So much so, that they advised my father to give only he his testimony, and not me. That only his name should be registered and no mine. That would be a way to protect me in case the democratic government fell, so, my testimony was included in my father statement. I always thought there was no record left. I searched for information just in 2011 and found my father´s statement in a digital form, that seemed unreal! I recognized his style of expression and I knew how old he was at the time of the desaparición. I realized that I had never thought about it from his side. More time after, I looked for other testimonies, other people with whom I shared the captivity, with whom I never spoke and whom I never saw. I only heard them - scream in pain or supplication-  smelled them or felt them crowded against our bodies. This is so, because that week I was hooded, that is, blindfolded, with handcuffs on my hands and my feet tied. Most of those voices are still missing, but two of them survived, I could read their testimonies, and  they made a reference to me and my father.

 

Personally, that testimony helped me to reorder my memory, which was like an abandoned unassembled  puzzle about those times. It often happens that it is possible to talk about something when one is far away from that something.