Paraguay gives remains of military dictatorship victims to families

By Mariel Cristaldo

ASUNCION (Reuters) – The remains of four people killed during Paraguay’s 1954-1989 military dictatorship were given to their families on Friday in an emotional ceremony that was the first of its kind.

The victims’ remains are the only ones identified to date among about 400 people who were executed and 19,000 tortured under the rule of Alfredo Stroessner, according to Paraguay’s Truth and Justice Commission, established in 2003.

“It is a job that we started a long time ago and that at the same time opens a new door of struggle because now we must insist that the judiciary determine what happened,” said Rogelio Goiburú, a member of the justice ministry’s board of historical memory and reparation.

The remains, identified last year, belong to two Paraguayans: Miguel Angel Soler, a former communist party general secretary, and Castulo Vera Baez, a farmer. Both vanished in 1977.

The other victims were Rafaela Filipazzi, an Italian citizen, and Jose Agustin Potenza of Argentina. Both disappeared in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1977 but were killed in Paraguay.

Under the so-called Plan Condor, authoritarian rulers in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia traded information in order to hunt down and kill exiled opponents in the 1970s and 1980s.

“I am very happy after many years of pain and searching… we have to make an effort for the repressors of all countries to be tried,” said Silvia Potenza, the daughter of Jose Agustin, who traveled form Argentina for the ceremony.

(Reporting by Mariel Cristaldo; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; editing by Grant McCool)

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