BUENOS AIRES – The Spanish community in Argentina, human rights defenders and political authorities paid tribute Thursday in Buenos Aires to the only pregnant Spanish woman to be disappeared during the South American country’s 1976-1983 dictatorship and whose remains were identified earlier this week.
“Being disappeared is a terrible tragedy and we must remember so that this doesn’t occur again ... (and so that we can) keep the memory alive” of people like Azucena Bermejo, who “at age 23 and pregnant was taken away by force in (northern) Tucuman (province) along with her husband, her father-in-law and her brother-in-law,” said Spain’s ambassador to Argentina, Estanislao de Grandes Pascual, during his remarks at the ceremony.
Bermejo’s remains were identified on Monday, although those of some of her disappeared relatives had been identified in July.
At the ceremony at the Spanish Embassy in Buenos Aires, Bermejo’s brother, Tomas Bermejo, expressed gratitude for the work by investigators and human rights organizations to find the remains of the seventh person identified from among the 100 Spanish-born people who were disappeared during Argentina’s civil-military regime.
“One always thinks that it’s practically impossible for them to make the bodies disappear like they did,” the president of the Commission on Disappeared Spaniards in Argentina, Maria Consuelo Castaño, told EFE.
She said that the process of identification is still slow because the families and the judiciary were not given – as “should have been done” – the army’s lists of arrested people and those of “all the police centers.”
Meanwhile, Mercedes Salado, a member of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team that is in charge of recovering the remains of disappeared persons in the country, told EFE that the Bermejo case was complicated because her remains were in the Pozo de Vargas, a deep pond in Tucuman that was used as a clandestine burial site.
There, the remains of 117 people have been found, of whom 88 have been identified.
Salado said that Bermejo’s remains were thrown in the pond along with those of many other victims, and so they are mixed together under 30 meters (about 100 feet) of water. Thus, identifying them depends much more on genetic analysis and not identifying marks.
Also speaking at the event was Argentine Human Rights Secretary Claudio Avruj, and the ceremony concluded with a floral offering at the mural for the disappeared Spaniards located on the embassy’s patio.