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Documents suggest La Cacha-Olavarría ties

Ignacio, Estela Barnes de Carlotto’s grandson, is seen alongside his grandmother.
By Luciana Bertoia
Herald Staff

Verdura’s victim was reportedly seen in same detention centre as Laura Carlotto

The former military officer who has emerged as a possible link between the clandestine detention centre known as La Cacha — where Laura Carlotto was held during the dictatorship — and the city of Olavarría, where her son, Estela de Carlotto’s grandson, was raised, will sit in the dock next month.

Verdura will face charges for the crimes committed in the clandestine detention centre known as Monte Peloni, which operated between 1977 and 1978 in the city of Olavarría. That former ranch was operated by the Army and around 25 people were held there, sources explained to the Herald.

In the 1970s, Verdura was the head of the Cavalry Regiment in Olavarría and the leader of military area 124, which meant that he was in charge of the repression not only in the city where Ignacio Guido was raised but also in Bolívar, Hipólito Yrigoyen, Carlos Casares, Pehuajó, Trenque Lauquen, Pellegrini, Salliqueló, Daireauaux, General Lamadrid and Laprida.

In 2012, a federal court in Tandil called for an investigation into Verdura’s role during the last dictatorship. It was then the tribunal convicted two civilians and three military officers for the murder of lawyer Carlos Moreno, who represented workers from cement manufacturer Loma Negra, the company headed by late Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat. Moreno was abducted on April 29, 1977 in Olavarría but held in a house in Tandil before he was shot dead.

The night, Moreno disappeared. His wife Susana Lofeudo approached her neighbour Verdura’s house. “Where is my husband?” she cried but he replied that he did not know. “You are lying,” she shouted. The woman phoned Verdura every day until he told her that her husband’s body was going to be transferred to La Plata morgue. On May 20, 1977 she found it there.

According to a report released by the Olavarría’s Commission for Memory in 2001, Verdura was on good terms with business leaders, who frequently contacted him when there were problems with workers.

Apparently that was how Verdura — who was born in November 1931 in Paraná, Entre Ríos — became friends with Carlos Francisco “Pancho” Aguilar, the farm owner who reportedly gave Laura Carlotto’s baby to Juana and Clemente Hurban, who worked as farmhands on his estate.

Sources from Olavarría told the Herald that Verdura apparently kept the horses that Aguilar owned at a military regiment facility.

Aguilar reportedly used to boast about his good links with the military and was a member of the Conservative Democratic Party, although in 2007 he was included on a local UNION-PRO ballot list.

LA CACHA FILES

Aguilar died on March 26 and it was his death that appears to have triggered Ignacio’s doubts about his identity. On June 2, when he celebrated his birthday he asked the people who raised him about his childhood and they reportedly told him that he was not their biological son.

Sources told this newspaper that after Aguilar’s death, the 36-year-old musician received a message hinting that he should investigate his origins. Almost simultaneously, a complaint was filed before Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, linking the former member of Olavarría’s Rural Society with the appropriation of a baby.

The big question now is how the baby got into Aguilar’s hands. Although Verdura is one of the possible lines of investigation, there is no legal inquiry that connects the former military officer to the appropriation of Laura Carlotto’s baby.

Verdura is mentioned in the La Cacha clandestine detention centre files as one of those responsible for the abduction of 25-year-old lawyer José Alfredo Pareja on March 12, 1977 in Olavarría. Pareja was taken to the same concentration camp where Estela Barnes de Carlotto’s daughter was held between December 1977 and August 1978.

Pareja’s father, Jorge Alfredo Pareja González, mentioned Verdura in his complaint before the National Commission on the Forced Disappearance of People (Conadep) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. There are survivors who saw Pareja in La Cacha in March, soon after his abduction. Pareja was last seen in May 1977 and he remains disappeared.

It is still unclear how Verdura was connected to the city of La Plata or if he had a direct link with the clandestine detention centre La Cacha, which was run by the Army, the Infantry and the penitentiary service. Another big question emerges as it is believed that La Cacha was not part of a repressive circuit as were other detention centres.

How Ignacio appeared in Olavarría is a mystery that a court will have to solve as soon as it is settled whether Judge Manuel Blanco or Judge María Romilda Servini de Cubría will be in charge of the legal investigation.

@LucianaBertoia

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