Yolanda Iris Casco Ghelfi was born in Salta (Uruguay) on 28th December 1945. She was part of a large family of eight brothers and sisters, together with her twin sister, Margarita. Her mother had migrated to Uruguay from Modena (Italy) in order to escape from fascism and poverty.
Yolanda played piano and moved to Montevideo, where she studied for a law degree at the University of the Republic. During this period, she helped form the left-wing coalition, the Frente Amplio (Broad Front) and met Julio César D'Élia, with whom she fell in love. Julio, an economics student, became an activist and the couple was involved in the militancy of the Grupos de Acción Unificadora (Unifying Action Groups, GAU). Yolanda and Julio married in 1972. Following the 1973 Uruguayan coup d'état and the University's closure, they decided to emigrate to Argentina by sailing across the river at the border city of Concordia.
Yolanda found work as a business secretary in Buenos Aires and Julio continued his studies until he qualified as an economist, while also working as a bookseller. The couple seemed to resume a normal life despite rising fears after the Argentine coup d'état in March 1976. In early 1977, Yolanda fell pregnant with their first child.
On 22nd December 1977, a strong repressive operation, formed by a group of heavily armed civilian men, broke into the couple's home and abducted them. That same day, Julio's parents were making their way to their son's home to spend Christmas together and await the birth of their grandchild. Upon their arrival, they were met by a group of officers who had stayed behind to plunder and capture other people who could come along.
The agents first took the couple to the Comando de Operaciones Tácticas 1 (Tactical Operations Command 1) base in the locality of Martínez, north of Buenos Aires. Yolanda was later sighted in two clandestine detention and torture centres known as the 'Pozo de Quilmes' and 'Pozo de Banfield'.
In the Parliamentary Commission formed to restore democracy, Julio's parents mentioned that they had noted the participation of Uruguayan forces when they were detained in the apartment. They claimed to hold information suggesting that their son could have been transferred to Uruguay alongside five other people, with the final destination potentially being the Uruguayan Fusileros Navales (Naval Fusiliers Corps, FUSNA). Jorge Néstor Tróccoli and two other members of the Uruguayan army travelled to Argentina during these dates to participate in these specific operations within the wider bilateral coordinated repression.
Testimonies suggest that Yolanda was transferred, together with other Uruguayan nationals, to an unknown destination on 16th May 1978.
Born in the 'Pozo de Banfield' clandestine detention centre in January 1978, Yolanda and Julio's son was immediately separated from his mother. He was given to a married couple linked to the Argentine Naval Intelligence and registered as Carlos Rodolfo de Luccia. After years of searching by Carlos' relatives, the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Grandmothers of May Square) found a birth certificate signed by the police doctor, Jorge Antonio Bergés. The document corresponded to a child registered as the biological son of a former Naval Intelligence Service officer. Aged 17, Carlos retrieved his true identity on 14th June 1995 after a court proceeding had authorised the DNA tests.
Yolanda and Julio's abduction and disappearance, alongside the illegal appropriation of their son, were investigated in the Condor trial and the case known as the Plan sistemático de robo de bebés (Systematic Baby-Stealing Plan) which investigated 34 dictatorship-era appropriations of minors. In 2021, the Italian Court of Cassation (Italy's highest court) sentenced Tróccoli to life imprisonment for the homicide of Yolanda and 25 other Uruguayan exiles captured in Buenos Aires in 1977 and 1978 during a wave of operations against GAU militants. The Argentine courts are currently investigating the case known as the Juicio a las Brigadas Banfield, Quilmes y Lanús (Trial of the Banfield, Quilmes and Lanús Brigades).