Argentines remember victims of “Night of the Pencils”

Buenos Aires, Sep 16 (EFE).- People marched in this capital and in the nearby city of La Plata on Friday to mark the 46th anniversary of the “Night of the Pencils,” the abduction and torture of 10 high school students by agents of Argentina’s 1976-1983 military regime.

Only four of the adolescents – the youngest was 14 – survived the experience.

In Buenos Aires, hundreds of students and activists marched Friday from the square in front of the Argentine Congress to the Plaza de Mayo, which was the most important venue for protests against the junta that seized power in March 1976.

And the Justice Ministry organized a ceremony in honor of the six students who lost their lives: Francisco Lopez Muntaner, Maria Claudia Falcone, Claudio de Acha, Horacio Angel Ungaro, Daniel Alberto Racero and Maria Clara Ciocchini.

Among the speakers at the event was Vera Jarach, a member of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a group of women who mounted weekly demonstrations in the square during the dictatorship to demand answers about the fates of children “disappeared” by the junta.

“At the beginning we were not heroines,” Jarach said. “No, at the beginning it was a visceral thing. We needed to know where our children were and to save them.”

On Sept. 16, 1976, police and military intelligence agents kidnapped 10 students from their homes in La Plata, the capital of Buenos Aires province.

All of the targeted students had taken part in a campaign to demand that high school students be permitted to ride public buses for free and several of them had connections to radical groups engaged in active opposition to the regime.

The Union of Secondary Students mounted a large event in La Plata on Friday to commemorate the grim anniversary of one of the most notorious episodes of the junta’s “dirty war” against the left, trade unions and grassroots activists.

The military regime killed some 30,000 people and brutalized thousands more. EFE jacb/dr

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