Continued terror in the lives of Argentina Dirty War survivors
Written by Theresa Cameranesi and Adrianne Aron   
Patricia Isasa was a 16 year-old high school student in 1976 when henchmen of a brutal coup regime disappeared her from her home in Santa Fe, Argentina. 

For more than two years she was illegally detained and miserably tortured, but unlike the majority of her fellow prisoners, Patricia was not killed.  More than 30 years later she was able to bring 6 of her torturers to trial, and this past December heard them condemned to between 19 and 22 years each, convicted of crimes against humanity.  

Patricia is well known to the SOA Watch movement, having spoken eloquently about her struggles and experiences numerous times at the gates of Ft. Benning during the yearly November Vigil, and also at several SOAW Strategy meetings, in the halls of Congress, and around the U.S. to many grassroots groups and universities.  

However, today, at 50, she laments the fate of one of her torturers, the SOA graduate Col. Domingo Marcellini, who died in March 2010 without ever standing trial.  And even more painfully, Patricia and her fellow survivors grieve in the aftermath of the suspicious early morning murder of an important witness in Patricia’s trial.  Silvia Suppo was in the beginning stages of another trial related to the disappearance of her then-fiancé, but she was stabbed to death under suspicious circumstances the morning of March 29th, inside her store in Rafaela, Argentina, where some of the accused also still reside.   

Argentina motherThe violent crime is being investigated by area police as a simple robbery gone awry and 2 young men have admitted to the killing.  However,  Silvia Suppo’s family and other Dirty War witnesses and survivors are not convinced.  They point to the hour of the killing (family stores do not generally have money in the till at that time), the closeness of the murder to the anniversary date of the Argentine coup, March 24, and the horrible violence of the act.  Silvia was slashed and stabbed 9 times.    

Isasa remarked about the murder of her concentration camp companion, “If this a message against witnesses so as to silence them, then the witnesses too have a message: we spoke out in the past, we speak out now and we’ll keep on speaking out despite these painful and terrible things.”

“To honor the memory of this strong woman, we will continue on this path,” she added.

These are not idle words.  After decades of tireless research and documentation of the crimes of her oppressors, Patricia had been able to prosecute nine of them.  Last year she had the satisfaction of seeing six of them convicted and sentenced by a court of law.  The verdict vindicated Patricia and her co-plaintiffs.  When it was announced she was able to say, “You see, we were right.  That was a crime.”  But Domingo Marcellini, the powerful SOA-trained Chief of Intelligence, escaped prosecution.  Too ill to stand trial, he died without ever receiving the judgment of the court or the punishment meted out to those who committed atrocities, including atrocities against the young Patricia Isasa and Silvia Suppo. 

When the other criminals on Patricia’s list were convicted, she was able to observe a justice system back on its feet: “They had a defense and were imprisoned in a reasonably decent place, which is something I obviously did not have.  They had all the rights that they took away from me.  This gives me a dignity, and points out the difference between who I am and who they are.  I would never do to them what they did.  It’s a crime.” 

But now the death of Suppo has shaken many of the witnesses.  Some now live under 24 hour police protection.  All recall the 2006  kidnapping and disappearance of another witness, Mario Lopez, soon after he gave witness in a trial in Buenos Aires.   

The unexplained murder grieves Suppo’s former companions, and they particularly point out her terrible sufferings and her strength when resisting her tortures, and her courage in proceeding with the trials and recognizing those responsible.  In the streets of Santa Fe province, inside the human rights and social justice organizations, and in Argentine primary and secondary schools, the name of Silvia Suppo will start to be learned as synonymous with a permanent struggle against impunity, against forgetting the past, and against staying silent in the face of state oppression. 

And as Patricia Isasa vows, “To honor the memory of this strong woman, we will continue on this path.” 

Visit www.SOAW.org/presente to read a previous interview with Patricia Isasa

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A Royale World
written by elizabeth cameron, October 21, 2012
DEAR PATRICIA ISASA, Thankyou for you "SISU" a Finish word meaning amazing courage tenacity and honor.You are a great inspiration a great soul. To all mothers and grandmothers of the dirty war BRAVO!!
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