Stolen Comrades: Inzaurralde, Scotto, Nell and the Unluckiest Couple In the World
(As reconstructed from the files of the Archives of Terror, with the assistance of Anna Recalde Miranda and Rosa Palau)
Arrest--29 March 1977—(a scenario)
Late night, a quiet room in a small monthly hotel located in a southern barrio of Asunción, Paraguay. Three anarchists sit and talk, perhaps discussing the news from Argentina or from Uruguay. The door explodes in flying debris, wood and metal. National Police in helmets throw the comrades to the floor, screaming in Spanish they search the room and then throw the men into the red Chevy wagon out front, the dread Little Red Riding Hood, the vehicle whose sole purpose is to bring living human beings to hell.
Down the hall, another room. An Argentine couple, very young and very much in love listen as the horrible situation unfolds. They hold each other, they fear. Then comes the knock at their door. The scene is repeated, only this time, the terror belongs to them.
The story begins with Gustavo Edison Inzuarralde (born 4 August 1942 at Minas, Uruguay) who was by any measure a hard core militant, anarchist, guerrilla, and now, martyr. By 1964 at the age of 22 he had joined the Uruguayan Anarchist Federation (FAU) and had formed an action cell named “Martín.” Three years later (11 November, 1967) he was arrested for carrying a pistol and a machine gun on the streets of Montevideo, though he was released after only a ten days in jail. On September 24, 1970 he was again arrested for a failed robbery in Carrasco, Uruguay and subsequently charged with the crime of forming a criminal association. He spent the next several months in prison, but was liberated and exiled under a Uruguayan law designed to pass subversive elements on to other countries. He was flown, by the Uruguayan authorities, to Chile where Allende’s socialist experiment was in full swing—and where an anarchist might at least be safe, if not wholly welcome.
Inzuarralde flourished in Chile, his training in adult education led to work designing programs for campesinos to learn to read, write and think critically. He was also employed at a factory that made pre-fabricated homes. Clearly, though, his mind and attention were never fully diverted from Uruguay. Some time in late 1973 or early 1974 Inzuarralde leaves Chile (prior to the Pinochet coup), possibly reading the political situation correctly, and settles legally in Argentina. In Argentina he reconnects with the Uruguayan anarchist community in exile and they begin to make plans.
July 1975—The Uruguayan Anarchist Movement
Buenos Aires, various anarchist and libertarian Uruguayan sections form the Partido por la Victoria del Pueblo (PVP). The party was meant to consolidate and extend anarcho-syndicalist ideas through the Uruguayan left, and with a view to turning the Tupumaros into a more libertarian resistance. Simultaneously the PVP formed an armed guerrilla movement known as the OPR-33 which set about to raise funds and secure arms. In addition to being a founder of the PVP, Inzuarralde was known to be in the command formation of the OPR-33. Inzuarralde also participated in the Worker Student Resistance (ROE), yet another group allied with both PVP and OPR-33.
Yet, just as the Uruguayans are pulling their shit together, Argentina was moving further and further towards the abyss of a coup. By March 1976 Isabel Peron and the right-wing peronistas could no longer keep the country from pulling itself apart and Videla and the generals stepped in to destroy the burgeoning revolution, including any radical foreign elements. Within 18 months of the founding of the PVP most of its leaders, activists and guerrillas were imprisoned, dead, or disappeared. In late 1976, and early 1977 plans were made to move any remaining PVP militants to Europe, preferably the safety of Switzerland, to sit out the growing repression and wait for better political weather.
As part of this process, an OPR-33 quartermaster named Jose Nell, a 67-year-old Argentine with a long history of working with left-wing peronistas, communists and others, had been crossing back and forth between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay—securing false documents and arranging travel. The general scenario was that militants would enter Paraguay from Brazil through Ciudad del Este. In Asunción false passports would be secured, the militants would then re-enter Brazil, travel to Rio de Janeiro and fly to Europe. Nell passes repeatedly back and forth between Buenos Aires and Asunción during January and February of 1977 and helps at least two or three anarchists get to the safety of Europe. The passage, it seems, is secure.
Spring 1977 Paraguay--Detention
So on 20 March, 1977 Inzuarralde passes through Ciudad del Este on a false document and makes his way to Asunción and the small hotel that Nell has been operating out of. In addition, another guerrilla, Nelson Rodolfo Santana Scotto, a 27-year-old Uruguayan, passes through customs at Puerto Falcon on March 21, 1977 on his way to the same destination. Scotto, during his subsequent interrogation in Asunción, admits to being a trainer with OPR-33, his expertise includes military science, making explosive and incendiary devices, and bank robbery. Meeting Nell in Asunción must have been bittersweet for the two anarchists, so many militants dead or disappeared, so much work left to do, and danger so close.
The last piece of this puzzle is a young Argentine couple, Dora Marta Landa Gil and Alejandro Jose Logoluso, 22 and 20 years old, respectively. Neither seems to have had much of a political past, Dora Marta never admits to any political activity at all and while Logoluso admits to being a peronista there were so many permutations of peronism during the 70s that there is no way to even assess his link to the Montonero guerrillas on the left, or the legalist peronist mainstream on the right. They have come to Asunción to start a new life, and like the three militants, are looking for false papers--not to travel, but to work. Thing is, all five are staying at the same hotel, and all five are using the same intermediary to try and obtain false documents.
The intermediary, Nilda Leon de Corvalan, proves, in this instance, to be an informer. And her information leads to subsequent arrest of all five on 29 March 1977, for not only possessing forged instruments, but for seeking to obtain further false documents. Heated requests go out from Asunción to other Condor countries for information on the five, and a single dossier on Inzuarralde, compiled by authorities in Montevideo, is forwarded to the Paraguayan National Police. It seems they have caught a big fish…what to do with him?
There is a single attempt to free any of the five during their detention in Paraguay. The parents of Dora Marta traveled to Asunción and met with various police and political authorities. While the files indicate that they are told of her arrest and detention, there is no indication that their pleas for their daughters release were ever even considered. They returned to Buenos Aires empty handed, though likely hopeful—she was alive and they knew where she was.
Spring 1977 Part 2--Interrogations
The files dead-end here in terms of the disposition of the prisoners. There is a lengthy document covering the interrogation of Scotto, it seems clear he knew that the game was up and pretty much told in disjointed terms his entire radical history. He never implicates anyone else, but admits to a string of some pretty wild activities--bank robberies, bombings, and general mayhem. He also spells out the life of an anarchist living underground in Uruguay and Argentina, the clandestinity, the lack of work, the publishing, the writing, the late night meetings to discuss tactics and strategy.
There is also a document covering the interrogation of Nell, though his material is more down-to-earth, commonplace. It is the work of a militia quartermaster, obtaining food, shelter, clothing, securing identity papers and ensuring that guerrillas have all they need to fight. The ideas that motivate the old militant never surface. They don’t need to.
No such interrogation document for Inzuarralde exists, rather there is a brief list of material that he discussed including his trip to Paraguay to obtain papers, his work in the ROE and other organizations, and that’s it. So he either 1) told them very little, or 2) his interrogation documents were subsequently destroyed or waylaid.
There was a concern on the part of the National Police that the militants had come to Asunción as part of an assassination team, or teams. Videla, the Argentine dictator was scheduled to visit Paraguay on 15 May 1977 and the presence of the three anarchists was considered prima facie evidence that something was up. Yet no one admits to it during interrogation, and the absence of explosives or arms at their capture indicates that what they were doing in Paraguay was just what they said they were doing, trying to get the hell out of South America.
Rendition --16 May 1977
There are no records of the negotiations between the Argentine Army and the Paraguayan National Police regarding the transfer of the five prisoners. The military and police bureaucrats were far too cagey to keep such documents, and it is likely that the final arrangements were made telephonically to further decrease the chance of discovery. There are, however, numerous instances in the files mentioning in detail both the flight and the prisoners.
I quote from the most precise document, from the day of the transfer 16 May 1977, written by Pastor Coronel, Chief of the Paraguayan National Police addressed to the Argentine Army transfer team..
“I have the honor to address you and your superiors with the object of letting you know that on this date at 4:34 pm a twin engine plane of the Argentine Army registered 5-7-30-0653 piloted by Capitan de Corbeta Jose Abdala flew to the city of Buenos Aires with the following prisoners: Gustavo Edison Inzuarralde (uruguayo), Nelson Redolfo Santana Scotto (urugauyo), Jose Nell (argentino), Alejandro Jose Logoluso (argentino) and Dora Marta Landis Gil (argentina). The persons mentioned were delivered by your direction in the presence of Cnel. Don Benito Guanes and Cap. Fragata Lazaro Sosa and Jose Montenegro and Juan Manuel Berret all with the SIDE (Servicio de Intelligence [of the Argentine Army])”
As I was researching the material I found myself, more than once, watching (in my minds eye) the five prisoners being loaded onto the plane. I see the afternoon tropical sun casting shadows across the tarmac, the heat tickles my back—a shiver, the revving of the engines, the plane being taxied to its ready position. And inside the plane sit that incredibly unlucky young couple looking to build a new life, and the anarchists looking to build a new world, all prisoners now. I stand and watch the plane as it rises in the still humid air fading into the horizon bisected into blue sky and palm forest--one last glimpse and gone, vanished—as if it had never existed. Disappeared, as sure as the human cargo it carried.
The story doesn’t end here in the files. Several requests regarding the disposition of the prisoners are extant. The first is an undated appeal from a couple living in Argentina who appear to have been friends with Inzuarralde—Britt Marie Stenkvist and Lars-Goran Olsson. The letter—written to Pastor Coronel indicates the Inzuarralde is married, that his wife, who is living in Switzerland, gave birth to a daughter in July of 1977 and that they are all desperate for news of his whereabouts. There was no response from the Paraguayan authorities. The next request for information comes from the International Red Cross Committee and demands, immediately, any and all information on the disposition of the five. The Paraguayans dash off a response that all five were expelled on 16 May 1977—and the unwritten part—they have no idea what happened to them. The friends and family of Dora Martin Landi Gil also demanded information about her whereabouts in September of 1977, but the note, forwarded to the police, seems to have been filed and forgotten. Finally, the United Nations Committee for Refugees gets involved in the case of Jose Nell through the Paraguayan Foreign Ministry. One last time, the note is filed without any response—likely they referred the UN to the material for the Red Cross and then let the matter drop.
I find no desire for closure in this story. The fact that five human beings disappeared off the face the earth requires no ending, no odes, no requiem. What does need to be said, however, is that in the case of the three comrades—they fought back, hard—all their lives and to the end of their lives.
Inzuarralde, Scotto, Nell.
Never Forget Them, Never Forgive.