This project is a joint initiative bringing together the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom with the following organisations in Uruguay and Chile: Sitios de Memoria, Pozo de Agua, and the Observatorio Luz Ibarburu in Uruguay and Londres 38 in Chile. The initiative also draws on the support of other organisations that are actively involved in the fight for memory, truth, justice, reparations in the Southern Cone.
This project frames itself within the political context of the return to authoritarianism in South America and other continents and sets three objectives:
- To compile information about Operation Condor that was previously dispersed through the creation of a single website with open access.
- To disseminate understanding and awareness about the past practices of coordinated repression in an accessible way.
- To generate tools for building and disseminating knowledge to support the existing efforts in the search for truth, justice and reparation and to prevent the recurrence of similar crimes in the future.
In order to meet these objectives, the project firstly compiles information from various investigations, publications, and audiovisual materials that have been developed since the recovery of democratic institutions in South America. The documents and publications (books, articles, press sources, judicial sentences, archival documents, and so forth) used in this project have been digitalised, gathered, and re-examined by a research team. Where necessary, the team used Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to search for words (names, concepts, etc.), allowing the researchers to read and investigate a vast volume of texts.
The project secondly grants the public access to additional and novel information uncovered by Dr. Francesca Lessa, who has been conducting research on Operation Condor since 2013. In particular, the webpage contains databases. The first database comprises 805 victims of the repressive coordination who were persecuted between 1969 and 1981, piecing together the victims' nationalities, affiliations, places of capture, and the human rights violations they suffered. The second database encompasses 45 criminal trials related to the repressive coordination and Operation Condor which took place in various countries, mainly in the Southern Cone but also in Italy, France, and the United States.
The project thirdly develops a geo-referenced Condor map, which situates the different places that played a meaningful role in the trajectories of the detention and capture of Condor victims, including prisons, detention and torture centres, border crossings, airports, and so forth. This task was carried out by Sitios de Memoria - Uruguay, who conducted new research and systematised the existing information from court cases, civilian and state signposting initiatives, alongside various other investigations and documents.
Finally, the collaborative dimension of this project was fruitful for producing new analytical and promotional material. Regarding the promotional material, award-winning Uruguayan artist, Sebastián Santana Camargo and Pozo de Agua's production team created three audiovisual pieces specifically aimed at making the topics of repressive coordination and the judicial processes against Operation Condor's crimes available to a wide audience. The audiovisual pieces cover the following topics: the first, Condor Trial 1: Memory, relates the establishment of the South American military dictatorships to the wider historical and political context of the Cold War. The second video clip, Condor Trial 2: Justice, recounts the advances and setbacks in the search for justice following the democratic transitions in South America, specifically focusing on the Argentine Condor trial (1999-2018). The final video clip, Condor Trial 3: Truth, focuses on the emblematic case of the Argentine citizens José Nell, Dora Marta Landi, Alejandro Logoluso, and the Uruguayan citizens Gustavo Inzaurralde and Nelson Santana, who were captured in Asunción (Paraguay) in March 1977, and their forced disappearance, following their illegal transfer via aeroplane to Buenos Aires in May 1977.
Dr. Francesca Lessa and Lorena Balardini analysed the material by studying the two databases and the infographic productions to compile the analytical reports.
This project is funded by the University of Oxford's ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.
Participating organisations in the collaboration:
The Oxford Department of International Development (ODID) is a department belonging to the University of Oxford. It was classified as the number one department for development studies in the UK government's national evaluation of research excellence in both 2008 and 2014. The majority of our research projects are qualified as world-leading and excellent on an international level. At the ODID, we mobilise our unique strengths- the exceptional breadth and depth of our disciplinary and regional experience and our connections with networks spanning across the entire Global South- to generate academically rigorous research into the underlying structures and general processes behind development. We entrench ourselves in this profound scholarship to forge new ways of thinking about development that can help improve the lives of the general public, be it by informing policies at the highest level or changing practices on the ground.
Sitios de Memoria - Uruguay is a shared and independent activist project that compiles information about the recent past and contributes to the ongoing fight for memory, truth, and justice. Its principal objective is to systematise and tie together the information about the illegitimate acts committed by the Uruguayan State (1968-1973) and the civil-military dictatorship (1973-1985) and to strengthen the visibility and availability of this knowledge.
Londres 38 formerly housed a repression, torture, and extermination centre of the Chilean civil-military dictatorship led by Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). After years of criminal complaints, Londres 38 was restored as a site of memory open to the community and social organisations. It is a space for getting to know and understanding what state terror was and its present-day consequences. It is a medium through which to promote the memory processes related to the repression and the social and political struggles of the recent past and present. Londres 38, thus, seeks to establish a link between this piece of history and our present-day reality, through reflection, debate, and cultural creation. We also strive towards full truth and justice as the fundamental pillars of building a democratic society. We contribute to eliminating diverse forms of impunity and promoting the exercise of human rights in the widest and most integral sense; valuing and granting recognition to the work that social movements are carrying out in this direction.
Observatorio Luz Ibarburu is a Uruguayan civil-society organisation that aims to follow and prosecute the grave human rights violations committed during the period of state terrorism from 1968 to 1985. The Secretariate of Human Rights and Social Policies of the PIT-CNT union confederation created the organisation in 2012 to ensure that the sentence of the 'Gelman vs. Uruguay' case was enforced.