Two days after having turned 74 and after a mass in the Basilica Cathedral, asking for his health, the former governor of Catamarca Ramón Saadi died victim of a serious illness that he faced for almost two years.
The remains of the Justicialist leader will be veiled today, from 1 to 10 pm, at the provincial Government House and the burial will be this Thursday starting at 9 in the morning. His final resting place will be the family vault, together with his father, Vicente Leonides Saadi, also a former governor of Catamarca between June and November 1949 and in 1987-1989, the period in which he succeeded his son in the governorship.
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At the head of Catamarca for two periods, between 1983 and 1987, and between 1988 and 1991, his last year of government underwent federal intervention. The previous year, 1990, was marked by the femicide of María Soledad Morales, which, at that time, revolutionized society: it meant the end of the hegemony of Saadism in Catamarca.
Under the terms of Raúl Alfonsín (December 1987 and November 1988), Néstor Kirchner and part of the first government of Cristina Fernández, (December 2003 until the same month of 2009), Saadi served as a national senator for Catamarca. The official was also a national deputy for the province of Catamarca, for eight years, from December 1991 and 1995, and also between 1999 and 2003.
The 1983 provincial elections, the year in which Argentina regained democracy, was the moment in which Saadi prevailed as governor, after seven years of military dictatorship. In those elections, preceded by the de facto governor Arnoldo Castillo, the politician born in 1949 narrowly defeated Ernesto Alderete Salas, representative of the Radical Civic Union.
Despite having created the Commission for Human Rights and Violations of Penal Laws, his mandate was marked by corruption scandals and accused by the opposition, and for supporting a “feudal family regime”, according to testimonies of the time.
After completing his first term as governor, and succeeded by his father Vicente (who left him his seat as national senator and would die eight months after assuming the provincial leadership), he forced Ramón to return to power in 1989 after elections anticipated calls by Oscar Garbe, then lieutenant governor.
Saadi and Menem, of mutual support for the federal intervention in the province of Catarmarca, by the La Rioja president
That same year, with the arrival of Carlos Menem to the presidency, Saadi showed himself to be one of the protagonists of the electoral triumph. He was one of the main promoters of the then governor of La Rioja -during his election campaign- and thus became one of his closest provincial leaders.
On the night of Friday, September 7, 1990, María Soledad Morales said goodbye to her parents (Ada Rizzardo and Elías Morales) to go to a party at the Le Feu Rouge nightclub, to raise funds for her graduation trip.
After the party was over, María Soledad’s parents had given her permission to go to sleep with a schoolmate and return home the next afternoon. It never happened, there was no news of them over the weekend. She feared the worst.
On Monday the 10th at 9:30 in the morning, on the side of Route 38, about seven kilometers from the capital of Catamarca (in an area known as Parque Daza), a group of workers from the National Highway found the body of an unknown young woman. .
The identity of María Soledad was discovered by a small scar on one of her wrists. Her body was battered, with cigarette burns, and her face was disfigured with a fractured jaw. In addition to her, part of her scalp, ears and one of her eyes were missing. Her death was from a lethal dose of cocaine that her rapists and murderers had forced her to consume.
Those involved, at that time, revolved around the Saadi administration and part of the police authorities of the province. The suspects were Luis Tula (her boyfriend at the time), Guillermo Luque (son of national deputy Ángel Luque), Pablo and Diego Jalil (nephews of mayor José Jalil), Miguel Ángel Ferreyra (son of the local police chief) and Arnoldo ” Arnoldito” Saadi (cousin of the governor) owner of the truck where María Soledad got into and was last seen alive.
The last four involved were later known as the “sons of power” which led to a slow and manipulated investigation of the then alleged homicide. Erased footprints and a manipulated and washed corpse, among other aspects, hindered the investigation to cover up the culprits. This led to the escape of Guillermo Luque, recaptured in February 1991.
It may interest you: The last hours of María Soledad Morales: raped, drugged and murdered by “the children of power”
Led by the parents of María Soledad, together with the nun Martha Pelloni, Catamarca experienced a series of mobilizations that brought together up to 30,000 people: the marches of silence, a landmark protest where justice was demanded for the clarification of the crime and the investigation of these “sons of power”
The massive displays of support every Thursday, together with the media and political repercussions of the event, put the Saadi government on the ropes. The recusal of judges together with the federal intervention promoted by Menem was executed by the controversial commissioner Luis Patti, sentenced in 2011 to life imprisonment for crimes during the military dictatorship.
The marches of silence for the crime of María Soledad Morales, a symbol of the search for Justice in the 90s.
On April 17, 1991, the former La Rioja governor decreed the federal intervention of the Executive and Legislative Powers of the province of Catamarca. The intervention in the judicial sector of the province had already been carried out and Ramón Saadi was dismissed. By then, Menem had ordered a series of measures to try to investigate corruption and drug trafficking in Catamarca. At that time, Luis Prol was appointed as controller of Catamarca and this political measure led to the end of the Saadi family to command the province.
It was not until 1996 that the oral trial for the murder of María Soledad began. “The national television of the process was decisive so that a new injustice would not be committed. In the transmission, the gestures of one of the judges, Juan Carlos Sampayo, who gave constant signs of partiality, were clearly seen”, reported Infobae in 2001 about the preferential treatment of the accused (Luque and Luis Tula) where “the first court adopted a scandalous attitude in favor of the defendants, especially Luque: the scandal forced the annulment of the trial”.
In 1997 a new trial was held that resulted in two convictions. On September 27, 1998, Guillermo Luque was sentenced to 21 years in prison for the murder and rape of María Soledad (he would serve only 14 years behind bars), while Luis Tula was sentenced to 9 years in prison as a secondary participant in the crime of rape. Today both are free.
“The court also ordered that the cover-up be investigated. Ex-governor Saadi, police chief Ferreyra, the force’s top brass, and other officials allegedly involved were named as suspects. This line of investigation was never carried out”, it was reported in this medium.
Luis Luque, the son
After the provincial intervention, Saadi tried to return to power in the provincial elections but was soundly defeated. After that brutal setback, he took office as a national deputy for two non-consecutive terms and in 1995 he became a senator for the minority but his diploma was challenged by the Chamber and he could not take office.
Saadi tried to run for the governorship of Catamarca in 1995 and 1999 but also lost to his radical opponents. It was not until 2003, after finishing his term as deputy, that he had his senatorial revenge and was elected again -again by the Catamarca minority with almost 25%- to try for re-election in 2009 that left him in third place behind the Front Provincial Civic and the Front for Victory.
The crime of María Soledad: the children of power, the lives of the defendants today and how Catamarca forgot the young woman raped and murdered 30 years after the atrocious crime of María Soledad Morales, a case that marked a before and after in Catamarca Elías Morales died , the father of Maria Soledad
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