The images are brutal. They show the body of a dead man, riddled with bullets. His face crossed by a slap of blood. The body weighs 35 kilos. He suffered 10 months of torture. About the photographs, his daughter wrote: “This is how he gave the ERP to my father. Inside a metal closet. The tweet is signed by his daughter, Silvia. The man is Colonel (post mortem) Jorge Roberto Igarzábal.
His murder occurred 48 years ago. This is the story.
The night of January 19, 1974 will be long and bloody, but no one knows or intuits it in the Azul Military Garrison, Buenos Aires province, despite the fact that the years of lead have already left their criminal mark.
Juan Domingo Perón has been in power for three months: his third presidency.
Like shadows in the closed darkness, more than two hundred men surround the place.
They have arrived in trucks painted like those of the army, dressed in green combat uniforms, and covered their heads with helmets similar to the real ones.
The treacherous assailants, it will be known later, are from the Héroes de Trelew company of the ERP (People’s Revolutionary Army).
At the head, Mario Roberto Santucho –its creator–, Enrique Gorriarán Merlo, and Hugo Irurzun.
First murder: soldier Daniel González, on duty. Between one hundred and one hundred and twenty enter, and the rest are left outside, as support.
Objective: steal weapons, catch a high-grade officer, and hold him hostage to use as a trade commodity.
The central guard, several guard posts and the officers’ casino were overwhelmed without resistance, but in the battery area and in the parade ground no one is surprised: they are greeted with fire in bulk.
At his house, opposite, the head of Armored Artillery Group 1, Jorge Roberto Ibarzábal, hearing the first shots, has his three children (Silvia, María José and Roberto) thrown to the ground, lowers the blinds, takes a revolver, and dressed in civilian clothes he joins the defense of the garrison.
When leaving he meets Colonel Camilo Arturo Gay, head of the unit, they cross a bridge over the Azul stream, but fall into a fatal ambush. Gay dies of a bullet in the head, and in the first assault Nilda Cazaux, his wife, also falls.
But the criminals are left with one prey: Ibarzábal, kidnapped on the same stage, and a bargaining chip to extort money from the government and exchange it for detained guerrillas.
Ibarzábal, kidnapped and martyred for 10 months by the ERP
The crossfire lasts all night, and beyond dawn. Gorriarán Merlo, seeing the plan to take the garrison failed, flees. Without giving notice to his companions to retreat. Without trembling before the certain death of those who obey him blindly. His motto: Who can save themselves!
It is not surprising: he will do the same fifteen years later, in 1989 and also in full democracy, in the assault on the La Tablada Regiment.
Already kidnapped, Ibarzábal is a prelude to the martyrdom of Argentino del Valle Larrabure, captured in the attempt to take over the Military Factory of Gunpowder and Explosives, Villa María, Córdoba.
He will be taken prisoner, also by the ERP, seven months later: August 10, 1974, and will endure 372 days of captivity, until his death, assassinated and without ever yielding to the pact offered by his jailers: “Teach us to arm bombs and we will leave you on freedom”.
Nor does Ibarzábal pray for his life throughout the ten months in which he is taken from prison to prison (called “del Pueblo”: unclean holes), bound and gagged most of the time, and forced to write letters to his family saying “they treat me well.”
What kind of men were they? Two brave men, without betraying everything they learned in the Military College. In particular, “fight and resist beyond duty.” The absolute counterpart of his executioners.
After those ten months, on November 19, 1974 at seven o’clock in the afternoon and in San Francisco Solano, Quilmes, a route control police patrol warns of the advance of three suspicious vehicles: two cars and a Rastrojero truck that is driving its ceiling a metal closet: the last prison of the captive.
The caravan breaks through the fence at full speed. The chase begins. A shooting breaks out. The truck slows down. The wardrobe custodian wields a short weapon, “and he shot my father three times, who was handcuffed and blindfolded,” Silvia Ibarzábal, a teenager on that night of horror, recalled to Claudia Peiró, from Infobae.
The prisoner dies on the spot. His murderer, Sergio Dicovsky, does not resist: he drops his weapon and raises his arms. You surely count on having the privilege of human rights.
Santucho, Urteaga and Gorriarán Merlo, the leadership of the ERP in the bloody decade of the ’70s.
And he is not mistaken. According to Silvia, “the one who killed my father is among those honored in the Parque de la Memoria, just like the assailants from other barracks in full democracy, such as the one in Formosa, while the victims of guerrilla terrorism are not even officially registered: more than two thousand ”.
In the same account, he recalls that “two guerrillas, one named Carrara, and the other, Altera, trapped during that hell, asked judges, deputies and journalists to give them guarantees. Altera had just killed Colonel Gay and his wife… ”.
Ibarzábal’s body showed every trace of the ten months spent in cages, with continuous changes, and without the slightest care. He weighed 35 kilos.
No less grim stages followed. Despite the fact that the attack on the garrison lasted all night, and that routes were immediately requested to be closed, the order was not carried out: free stone for the escape of Gorriarán Merlo.
Perón – who would die on the first day of July 1974 – threw out Oscar Bidegain, governor of the province of Buenos Aires. Charge: suspicion of complicity, with other officials, in the attack.
During the entire period of their government, the Kirchners ignored the tributes to those who fell under fire from the guerrilla organizations. And both Arturo Larrabure, son of the martyred colonel, and Silvia Ibarzábal, continue to demand in court that these crimes be considered “against humanity.” Until today, before deaf ears.
The only recognition Ibarzábal received was his postmortem promotion to colonel.
When he died, he was only 46 years old.
The murder of Judge Quiroga: he knew he was sentenced to death for terrorism and received 14 bullets in the body 30 years after Menem’s pardons: confidential meetings, secrets and the backroom of a decision that sought to leave behind the violence of the ’70s