His parents have been indicted and, in many cases, convicted of some of the worst crimes committed in Argentina’s recent history: they were repressive police and military during the last military regime.
Since 1976 and for almost seven years, the military juntas that had control of the country persecuted their political opponents – communists, socialists, students, artists, union leaders… anyone they considered a threat – and kidnapped, tortured and killed thousands of citizens.
This is the story of two daughters of those men who, after four decades, raise their voices publicly against their parents.
The fearsome Doctor K
He was with his father, Eduardo Emilio Kalinec.Kalinec analyate. 40 Years. Clear, large, silent eyes. It presents: «I’m a teacher, a psychologist, a mom of two… and also the daughter of a genocide.»
«My dad was born in 1952, as part of a middle-class family that had financial vicissitudes. He dropped out of high school in the third year and decided to join the Federal Police back in the 73rd, very young.
I was born in dictatorship and I always knew that my dad was a cop, we didn’t ask ourselves the question of what he was doing or what he was doing. At home he was a very present dad, but I never asked him anything. A ‘kind family’, who would join each other for lunch, go to the police club or go with my dad to fish… He was the provider father, much loved, highly respected inside the house. We were four sisters and we lived in our bubble. Then we left getting married and having children, as expected of us. I was the one who took the most than four and I got married when I was only 22 years old… imagine!
That’s life. Until 2005.
The Kalinec’s copyright: «a kind family, who would come up for a roast, go to the club or go fishing.» Last day of August. I was at home when I got a phone call. It was my mom. ‘Look, don’t be scared, Dad’s in a hurry. But stay calm, he’s going out.’
Until that call, I had never linked my dad to the dictatorship, even remotely… Not even remotely.»
Eduardo Emilio Kalinec, commissioner, was remanded in custody. There were witnesses who mentioned it. Accusations felonies: 181 victims, charges of kidnapping, torture and murder. He reassured his family by saying it was a political operation against him.
«The next day of that call we’re going to visit my dad in jail. And he tells us that we don’t have to believe anything, that a lot of lies are going to be told, but that he has nothing to repent of. That he went out to fight a war and that this is happening now because the ‘revanchist left-handers’, as he called them, have come to power [en alusión al gobierno del entonces presidente Néstor Kirchner].
I didn’t understand anything, for me the dictatorship was a thing of the past. I was totally oblivious to what was going on in the country. I worked in a private school, I would hang out on weekends with my sisters, we would move between families of my dad’s fellow cops and that was my circle. I had no way to access a lot of information, and I wasn’t interested, say. My parents also sought to maintain a state of asepsis, ‘we don’t get into politics, we’re apolitical.’
Tanks and soldiers in front of the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, on March 24, 1976. A military coup overthrew then-President Isabel Perón, and well, when my dad is imprisoned, I start very hard to try to put everything in context. The first three years were of absolute denial. To understand the dictatorship, to understand the struggle of Mothers and Grandmothers [de Plaza de Mayo] and empathize with them, but to say that my dad had nothing to do with it. That it was a mistake, that the trials were fine, but that with my dad they had made a mistake.
Until, in 2008, they raised the case to oral trial. Oral trial, are there merits for me to go to oral judgment? That’s when I’m starting to think that what my dad was telling me wasn’t so…»
Kalinec was one of 15 defendants in the first trial of the so-called ABO Circuit – an acronym for the underground centers Atlético, Banco and Olimpo, which operated successively between 1976 and 1979. Tregarded the repressors in charge as many of the detainees were transferred from a center to another.
«I read the cause, which until that moment I had not read it. It was to read at full speed and say ‘don’t let your name appear, please don’t let your name appear’. And i don’t want to skip any line to make sure I hadn’t skipped it, and suddenly it would show up… Kalinec. I remember that moment…
I read the testimonies, the descriptions of what had been a concentration camp. Creating all that map in my head and locating my dad within that map made me intolerable and difficult.»
Eduardo Kalinec, a young but fearsome policeman under the alias Doctor K.For the survivors who testified, Analya’s father was «Doctor K«. A Alias, as many had members of task forces to hide their True Identity.
«I knew he was being called Doctor K because he had told me himself, though afterwards he always denied it. I once asked him why and he ‘sent me fruit’, he told me he was called doctor because he was always very correct and looked like a lawyer. To my husband he gave another explanation, told him it was for a cleaner that he had at that time, branded Doctor K: he was the one doing the cleaning. Terrible. And then (I found) another non-minor data: he was the doctor and the torture room was called an operating room.
Then I’m going to look for answers to the only place I had, which was my own family. And there I meet a father who wants to justify the unjustifiable and, when I increte it and say ‘how you do nothing, if all these testimonies are in the cause’, he ends up confirming to me what i was so afraid of.
He confirms his participation personally.
He was part of the ducks who went out to kidnap and took people to the underground centers. He is now 67 years old, in the dictatorship he was a man of 24 or 25. He was one of those who executed the orders, not the ones who gave them. And yet, in some textual phrases, the survivors say they knew him as someone very cruel within the concentration camps. There were some repressors who were more afraid than others. And my dad was one of those who were afraid.»
When the military junta took control of the country, the security forces pursued those they considered «subversive.» Thousands were arrested and taken to clandestine prisons. The «operating room» and the itch: voices of survivors
Dozens of witnesses, in various judicial bodies, pointed to Eduardo Kalinec as a participant in interrogations and torture sessions in the underground centers.
Eight of them, in the trial for the ABO Circuit that led to his life sentence. He was described as a young man with dark hair, «morrudo», retacon, with thick neck, sharp voice.
«Pretty dreaded inside» and «very cruel» with the detainees, according to the accounts.
Ana Maria Careaga was 16 years old and three months pregnant when she was taken away. Doctor K kicked her every time I saw her in the anteroom of the bathroom. On one occasion she reproabeented her for not saying she was pregnant. «Do you want me to open your legs and make you have an abortion?»
Miguel D’Agostino identified him as one of three men who subjected him to five days of interrogation with electric spike in the «operating room».
The former underground center Olympus, where Kalinec was based. It worked for 17 months and is estimated to have been kidnapped there by 500. Delia Barrera was also a victim of torture during the 92 days she was detained in El Atlético. She was 1977 and she was 22.
«I have the septum (mask) on and I feel a lot of voices around. And a voice says ‘start’ and that’s where they started hitting me, beating me. From there they drag me by the hair to what they call the O.R. There were three rooms, one listened as they tortured others next door,» Barrera told BBC World.
«They force me to undress. They tie me to a metal bed, open my legs, tie a cable on my thumb of my left foot and make me hear a noise: shhhhh. And they say ‘ Do you know him? Well, now you’re going to meet him.’ And that’s where the pike discharges begin.
They blamed me for putting bombs in the police department, which I never did. I was asked for names of fellow militancy. And the torture lasted and lasted…»
El Olympus, a corner of shuttered windows in the Porteño neighborhood of Flores.After a torture session he crossed paths with Kalinec.
«They had hit me a lot and they took me to the infirmary, a repressor they called me Doctor K, so I thought ‘ah, a doctor’. He told me i had cracked ribs, but i wasn’t going to bandage myself because I could hang myself with the bandages. But I managed to spy on him, he had the half-raised septum, and I never forgot that Kalinec face. At the trial he was hairy and gomina, but the whiskers had them. When the judges ask me if I recognize anyone, I say ‘there you are, Doctor K, Kalinec’. I couldn’t forget Kalinec.»
Delia was liberatedTo and lived to tell it, with physical aftermaths mentallyIs. Scars from the pike, a poorly welded rib, Repeated suicide attemptsio.
Others didn’t have the same fate. Among them, sor husband Hugo Alberto Scutari. He hasn’t seen him since they shared a cell for a few weeks at El Atlético. Today he is one of the detainees-disappeared from the regime: athe exact number is the subject of dispute, human rights agencies estimate that Were about 30, 000.
Most of the inmates who passed through the ABO Circuit remain missing. The letters
Analía confronted her father with the evidence Supplied the court case.
«After a conversation in prison, where he got very uncomfortable and nervous, I felt a kind of release. I came home and wrote Open letter to a repressor. In my family we always went from writing us letters. And I put the name ‘repressor’ with everything. I now say it totally naturalized, but you had to put that word on… And since I couldn’t tell her in the face, I wrote it.
That day in jail was, without my knowledge, the last time I saw my dad.
I could not imagine even remotely the dimension that would take that rebellion of mine to dare to doubt him. Then all the reproach of my mother and sisters appears: ‘How are you going to tell her that right in this moment that needs us most, we have to be united and you come to him with that!’ My sisters, who are also cops, always sided with my dad. I don’t have a deal with them today.
Eduardo Emilio Kalinec, during the trial. He was sentenced to life in prison. At that moment I also began, beyond the letters, to make a personal narrative record thinking about my children and how to explain to them that they had suddenly run out of grandparents, without cousins, without aunts.
And the thing started half a verborhagic, talking to them with the whole truth. To the point that one day they call me from kindergarten and say ‘Look, we need an interview with you, because Gino (older son, then 4 years old) told his companions that his grandpa was in a prisoner because he had killed many people.’ And the companies started asking if he had machine guns, if he had tanks… And the teacher almost fell in round there.
It is a constant work to reconcile that image of Doctor K with that of the dear father. Within what is the intra-family world, I remember it tickling us, hugging us…
And at first the dissociation was stronger. I remember saying ‘well, on the one hand there’s my dad and on the other hand there’s the genocide’. And by making it in therapy, I end up acknowledging that it is not, that it is always the same person, a single person with a part that keeps hidden but that is part of it and I no longer deceive sits.»
Kalinec was Sentenced life imprisonment in December 2010 for qualified manslaughter, torment and unlawful deprivation of The aggravated freedom By committed by a civil servant. He denies the charges.
Of the Almost 3.300 Investigated crimes against humanity since the trials were reopened in 2007, 962 people have been convicted in 238 causes, according to the latest report Office of the Office of the Office of Crimes against Humanity. There are still more than 350 cases pending.
15 charged at the first trial of the ABO circuit. (In the photo, Kalinec looks at his notes in the second row, second from the left). Insiden policeman’s secret
But not all former members of the security forces they get to the bench. Paula’s father (*) it’s one of Them.
«I was born in Buenos Aires, in 1980, when the dictatorship was in full swing.
Ever since I realized that what I knew had happened in the dictatorship had been the responsibility of my father, that he had worked for them, I am accompanied by this feeling of shame and guilt, as if I were an accomplice. Because… I know all this and there’s nothing I can do. I’m a custodian of a secret I don’t want to keep.
It was only at the age of 14 that Paula learned that her father worked for the intelligence services. In my case, my father was never brought to justice. How am I sure he’s guilty? Well, because he told me! I know it was part of the crackdown because he told me. My dad worked for the intelligence services, probably as a spy.
When I was 14, my dad took my brother and me to a café and told us he was a cop. We had no idea. He told us that he had participated in the ‘war on subversion’, so he called it. And he was proud, he felt like a hero. I didn’t understand at the time. It took me a while, you know, about two months i took to digest it.
Soldiers categoristad a civilian in Buenos Aires, 1977.He used to infiltrate different groups, of students or social workers or anyone that the military did not like. And he ‘marked’ the militants, passed the names to their superiors.
He was very young, twenty-first, and from the pictures he had at home he did not look like a policeman. He had long hair and wore loose shirts, just like any normal guy from the ’70s. What I knew was that he was a lawyer. We did not socialize with other police, at home we could hear ‘forbidden’ music like (Joan Manuel) Serrat… If you saw my dad, you wouldn’t say ‘ah, a cop’. In my house we’ve never seen a uniform before. Never.
When he tells us everything, I confront him. I tell him ‘it doesn’t matter if they did something or not. You don’t go and kidnap them and torture them! Don’t kill them because they’re, according to you, subversive! It’s basic, no one does, let alone the state should.’
I had this conversation with him many times. ‘They were terrorists,’ he repeated. So what? Let’s say they were: you have to move within the framework of the law. ‘Don’t understand, the communist threat was coming,’ he reworked me. ‘I don’t care, Dad. That’s no reason to kill, torture, rape, disappear and steal children.’ No way.»
It was ten years since Paula learned of the family secret until cut ties with his father.
«Family is family. So I had to keep seeing him, then for a while I didn’t see him because i was so angry. And so, back and forth, partly because my mom insisted, ‘It’s your father, how you’re not going to see him.’ But when my mom died I felt freer and decided that already, end point. I cut the link. That’s 15 years ago.
Paula as a child, with her father: «If you saw him you didn’t say ‘ah, a cop.’ I never saw him in uniform.» There was no turning back. He’s a horrible person and I don’t want someone like that in my life. He always repeated to me that he had done what had to be done, that he had acted correctly, that the crimes had been necessary. Oh, and he didn’t call them crimes, of course. He called them ‘actions’.
So at one point I don’t care if he’s been convicted or not, I know what he did because he brags about it. He was a necessary participant in this machinery of violence that he defends to this day.
The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo march against the laws of end and due obedience, in 1986. The repeal of these laws allowed trials against DD to be opened. Hh. during the military regime. I don’t have nice memories, anyway. I’ve been in therapy for 15 years and we’re back on this subject a lot: how can I have no memory? I know there are pictures where we’re happy family, but I don’t have a record. If I have to think of a good memory… Let me think… I had one… Well, I could say my dad drew very well. I was drawn once by a very nice Cinderella. That, he was a good cartoonist.
Otherwise, I was afraid. He had a frightening aura, shall we say (laughs). He knew how to instill terror. A while ago I met with childhood friends, we were remembering that time and one of my friends confessed to me, ‘Your dad was very scared of me.’ And I thought ‘yes, as it is, I was afraid of him too.’
He was not violent, in the sense that he did not subject us to physical violence. But it was a psychological nightmare.»
Analía (at the center), along with other relatives, decided to form the organization Disobedient Stories.Disobedient Stories
Paula and Analía met. Not long ago. They were helped by social media. They decided they wanted to talk, take the street, go against the family mandate, and repudiate their parents in full view.
Analía: We began to see that there were other daughters and sons of genocidal people who lived quietly to their repudiation. I’ll meet you. It was a spontaneous matter, to say ‘we have to do something, this is intolerable’. And ask us how we present ourselves…
We decided to leave this place of genocidal relatives who repudiated the crimes and embrace the flags of memory, truth and justice. We decided to call ourselves Disobedient Stories. We made a flag and marched to the square. The first time there were four of us, all women, with an energy and a joy…
Paula: When I found out, it was an awakening, ‘God, I knew I couldn’t be the only one!’ I feel like in the group they understand me as no one else can understand me. Imagine, I know who my father is since I was 14 and I’ve never talked to anyone.
The first time I told my psychologist, but then I kept the secret for 23 years until I met them (less than two years ago). It’s crazy… I’m 39 and I lived 23 years in silence.
They published a book of collective writing, called «Disobedient Writings.» Here, Paula at the presentation. Analía: Yes, yes. We have a very strong need for expression. We are making manifestos all the time, we bring out a collective book, a bill that tries to change Argentine law that up to date today prevents a child from testifying against his parents.
We want to ensure that this does not apply in cases of crimes against humanity and we can talk if we know things that can contribute to the causes.
Bruno, 12 years old and the youngest of the two children of Analía, accompanies her in her militancy. Paula: When you carry a secret for so long, talking helps you deal with shame, a feeling we share many in the collective. Shame because you know what you know, because you have to shut up, because you’re afraid of what people are going to think.
That’s why it’s important to ‘get out of the closet’. And dating collectively is much more powerful. Because we can challenge these repressors from a place that no one can: the place of sons or daughters. We know that they do not repent, we know that they keep secrets in a pact of unwavering silence by which no one has told what they did in the dictatorship.
Analía: I’m still waiting for my dad to talk. I know you have sensitive information. About the missing, he eventually comes up with some baby that was stolen in captivity and handed over to families of appropriaters.
Unlike other senile repressors, my dad is lucid, he has a prodigious memory. And knowing the damage he continues to do with his complicit and criminal silence hurts me a lot.
End of love?
The presence of the «disobedient» in the human rights demonstrations on the streets of Buenos Aires still takes many by surprise. They’re a new actor, and not everyone knows about the collective that brings them together.
They look at them with surprise, with bewilderment. They applaud them as they pass, they praise their courage.
Memory Day March,. Hundreds of groups take to the streets each year to demand «Never Again». But their presence also unsettles some survivors and relatives of victims. (Several, in fact, refused to participate in this report.)
«I am a very hard person in the face of some things. Disobedient children had opportunities to go out and report their parents and they did not. Why didn’t they go out earlier?» claims Delia Barrera, a survivor.
«Because when you talk and say ‘my dad is this’ and then you say you want it, I hear and think ‘well, we’re going wrong’. You can’t love a genocidal repressor. Tell me you don’t want it and it’s something else.»
Is it possible to stop loving the father you once loved?
«Look, I wonder all the time,» analyaKalina confesses.
Barrera testified in several trials. «For me, telling what happened is a life mission.» First, because it was a relationship of great mutual affection that lasted my childhood, my adolescence and part of my adulthood. But then it was my turn to rethink everything. What was it, honey, as long as I did everything my dad wanted? How much love can there be, if when I start dissenting with him or questioning him he already wants to disinherit me?
«I refuse to give up that dad I loved so much. I know there’s a part of me that wants to keep it, and I don’t want to be so mean to myself for giving that up.
«In the collective we often think about this, we think that we cannot love our parents. Who can decide whether or not to want? How do you erase affection? How do you erase memories? So for now we live with those contradictions»
Liliana Furió (left) is the daughter of a convicted soldier, currently in senile dementia and in house prison. With Analía they founded the collective Historia Disobedientes. (Sin) epilogue
Although many years ago the daughters cut ties with their respective parents, they recently broke the silence. The story – personal, social – continues to be written.
In 2019, Kalinec filed a lawsuit from prison for Analía to be excluded from her mother’s inheritance, who died in 2015. And he did so «for reasons of indignity»: he believes that his daughter has defamed him and should not benefit from the family’s money, as recorded in a writing also signed by his two younger sisters.
In the response to the lawsuit, Analía indicated that he will accept what his father wants if he first admits his guilt and provides data on the fate of his victims.
«It’s cynical this is happening, but it seems to me that the interesting thing about this trial against me is that, after 12 years without seeing us, that dialogue that my dad denies me now becomes a conversation through writings and lawyers, where he has to read what I have for and where I keep demanding that you say what you know,» she says.
Many applaud them as they march for justice. For others, they are an uncomfortable presence. Paula doesn’t have that option anymore. He got a call from his brother recently. He was told that his father had had a stroke. He had surgery, but he never regained consciousness.
«I didn’t go to see him at the hospital. I didn’t go to the funeral either,» Says Paula, on the phone with BBC Mundo when they broke the news to him.
«I decided not to go because I thought it would be disrespectful to those who did have a relationship with him. And also because honestly a part of me had already mourned my father in my life.»
«But alive or dead him, I as a daughter still feel responsible for speaking, of saying that I count his actions. It may help others to speak, beyond their blood bond with the perpetrator. None of this changes with my dad’s death.»
(*) Paula asked that we not publish her last name, to protect the identity of other members of her family.