In December 1977, the newspaper La Nación published a list of names that exposed the magnitude of the disappearances of persons. This list was not the result of a journalistic investigation. It was a transcription of the records that the families of the victims had started keeping since late 1975. “Because of this list, the government could no longer deny the disappearances”, CELS cofounder Emilio Mignone analyzed years later.
These lists were the first step in building a method. Putting the events down in writing on paper sheets would pave the rugged road to justice, by gathering names and circumstances, walking them down hallways, taking them to counters, windows, desks, passing indifference, by carving them in government bureaucracy and insisting until some judicial employee moves the file from one drawer to another. And repeating.
Mónica was 24 years old when she was abducted in the house she shared with her parents, Emilio Mignone and Ángelica Sosa de Mignone. Augusto María, son of Augusto Conte and Laura Jordan de Conte, was disappeared by the Army while completing the compulsory military service. Liliana, the daughter of Alfredo Galletti and Élida Bussi de Galletti was 31 when she was disappeared. Gustavo José, son of Boris Pasik and Elena Dubrovsky, was disappeared at the age of 19.
Gustavo, son of José Federico Westerkamp and Ángela Muruzábal de Westerkamp, was arrested, tortured and jailed for seven and a half years. Alejandra, 19 years old, daughter of Carmen Aguiar de Lapacó y Rodolfo Lapacó, was kidnapped along with her mother and never returned to freedom. Noemí Fiorito de Labrune did not have any biological relatives of state terrorism, but she had cared for Leticia Veraldi, arrested and disappeared at the age of 17. All of these children were militants. All of these adults founded the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) 40 years ago.
Documenting filed complaints, relentlessly explaining the mechanisms of repression, working internationally to bridge over the local labyrinth and pressuring judicial power were the chosen strategies to battle the impunity of State terrorism.
At the end of the dictatorship, these tools proved powerful to record, investigate and seek justice for the human rights violations committed in the era of democracy, although no longer as part of a systematic plan. Meanwhile, the change of scenario allowed the greater possibility to have an impact on the government and contribute to building an increasingly democratic State.
Today we are part of the movements that fight for human rights worldwide.
For dignity, for the right to make collective decisions, to participate, to protest, to migrate, to access justice, to equality.
In every instant, this movement is history, past, and future. For this reason, it is “imparable”, unstoppable.