ASUNCION – The Paraguayan presidential candidate for the opposition Ganar (Win) party, Efrain Alegre, together with his vice presidential running mate, Leonardo Rubin, on Friday visited the Museum of Memory, which preserves documents and photos from the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, to commemorate the 29th anniversary of his fall from power.
Rubin told EFE that if they win the presidential election on April 22, they will seek justice and reparations for the victims of a dictatorship that lasted more than 30 years.
“Human rights are what it’s all about. Disappeared persons are still being discovered. There’s still no gene bank for discovering the identities of those who died. We’re going to do a lot of work on that,” Rubin said.
The candidates toured the Museum of Memory in downtown Asuncion that was once a torture chamber and prison, and today preserves objects, testimonies and documentation from that period.
“This was a torture chamber... this is one of the cells where the torture victims were kept, you can see the electric prods, you can see the vats where the prisoners were drowned... it’s a place that brings back a very sad time in our country and that we must remember today so it never happens again,” Rubin said.
“When there was a coup d’etat here in 1989 we recovered a certain freedom of the press, of opinion, of assembly... but social justice never. Many victims have never received any compensation... there are people who even run into their former torturers,” Rubin said.
Before visiting the museum, the two candidates went to the Palace of Justice to revisit the Archive of Terror, with its many thousands of documents that link the Stroessner dictatorship with others in the region, and were discovered in a Paraguayan police station 25 years ago, thanks to investigations by Paraguay’s Martin Almado, tortured by the dictatorship and an “Alternative Nobel Prize” winner.
The Stroessner dictatorship left more than 400 victims either disappeared or executed extrajudicially, while an estimated 100,000 were indirect victims of the repression and thousands more were forced into exile, according to the report published by the Truth and Justice Commission in 2008.
Of the 448 people suspected of carrying out the dictatorship’s crimes, only eight were tried, all between 1999-2008, according to the Table of Historic Memory.