I just published in our Project Disappeared blog an interview with Analía Verónica, the daughter of accused torturer Eduardo Kalinec. The interview is in Spanish. One of the issues she touches on is the impossibility of reconciling a man who was sweet and loving to her, and a monster on his day job. “It’s very hard to know that my father held a picana with the same hands with which he touched me”. A picana is an instrument that delivers electricity, similar to a cattle prod, but which allows the torturer some degree of control as to the voltage applied. The picana, developed my the Argentine police, was the favorite instrument of torture in Argentina.
Analías words touched me because I also have problems reconciling memories of people who seemed so nice and gentle to me, but who might directly or indirectly been involved in the repression. Among this is an uncle, a very soft and sweet man, who was pediatrician for the Argentine Navy during the repression. As a pediatrician it’s unlikely that he participated in the repression, but he could not have not known what was happening and yet he stayed in the institution. Of course, he never talked about it – but he did want to make sure that his connection to me wasn’t made public 🙂
Another person was the father of an elementary school mate – a police officer. His name doesn’t appear in any lists, so I don’t have strong bases to conclude that he was involved in the repression – but then again, the lists are utterly incomplete. The names in them are those of people who were identified by the survivors – but the disappeared were usually kept hooded so they couldn’t see their tormentors. This man, in particular, was really nice and I loved going to my friend’s house to play after school – but I remember a few things about him that make me suspicious.
In a greater sense, I have real problems reconciling a childhood that was quite pleasant all in all, with the horrors that were going on around me – of which I only learned after democracy had returned to Argentina (when I was 14). I’ve gone back on my memory to trying to look for clues of what had been going on. I remember, for example, that pink house close to ours in City Bell. The house was perhaps a hundred meters away. Nobody occupied it throughout all the time we owned our country house – nobody even visited it. For some reason, my parents forbade us to go there – and we mostly obeyed. I remember going there once, however, looking through a window and seeing a mess of clothing and objects all over the floor. I don’t think we tried the door. Today I wonder if its owners were disappeared.
In any case, the interview is in Spanish, but it’s well worth reading.