Casona de Punta Gorda


This two-storey house, situated on Rambla República de México Avenue in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, was a clandestine torture and detention centre. It began its operations in May 1974. The property is situated opposite the well-known Playa de los Ingleses beach in the Punta Gorda residential neighbourhood.

On 8th May 1974, the Joint Forces (Fuerzas Conjuntas) confiscated the property from the guerrilla group, Movimiento de Liberación Nacional - Tupamaros (National Liberation Movement, MLN-T). The MLN-T had acquired the property at the beginning of the year so that it could be used as the operations centre of its political commission, in an attempt to reorganise the group which had quickly become disjointed. The name Joint Forces referred to the coordinated effort of the Uruguayan Armed Forces (Army, Navy and Air Force) with the Police in the so-called “fight against subversion”.

This place has been identified by the dozens of former captives as “300 Carlos R” or “Infierno Chico”. The centre was run by the Servicio de Información de Defensa (Defence Information Service, SID) and it also offered its services to members of the Organismo Coordinador de Operaciones Antisubversivas (Coordinating Organism for Antisubversive Operations, OCOA). The names were formed in reference to the larger clandestine torture and detention centre, “300 Carlos or Infierno Grande”, which had recently began its operations in 1975.

Punta Gorda house would have been the first of dozens of clandestine centres which were run by the SID in Uruguay. It is not known exactly how many people, belonging to different political groups, were held there for weeks or months before being transferred to other clandestine centres.

The captives were brought into the clandestine centre in vehicles which entered the garage. They were then taken across a narrow staircase to the top floor, where the men were mainly held, and to the groundfloor, where the women were detained. The victims’ testimonies indicate that prisoners were tortured around the clock, but especially during the night when a radio was turned on at full volume. The blaring of the radio was still not enough to cover the sound of the screams. The victims’ faces were covered or their eyes were blindfolded while they were being tortured. The main methods of torture were the following: victims were left hanging in the courtyard and were subjected to electric shocks from the “electric prod” (“picana eléctrica”) device. Another torture technique, known as the “submarino” (“submarine”), was also practised: victims were drowned in the bath tub in the main bathroom or in a dustbin full of water.

The survivors included one of the seven Uruguayans who were kidnapped in Buenos Aires in November 1974 before being secretly transferred back to Uruguay as part of an episode known as Los Fusilados de Soca. The victim recognised Punta Gorda as the house where they had been held captive upon their arrival in Uruguay.

In October 1975, dozens of captured militants who belonged to the Partido Comunista del Uruguay (Communist Party of Uruguay) were taken to the Casona de Punta Gorda as part of the so-called “Operation Morgan”. They were subsequently transferred to other clandestine centres. The building was not big enough to hold so many prisoners, so the repressors started to also use a warehouse situated on military grounds. This new clandestine centre became known as “300 Carlos” or “Infierno Grande”.

The survivors included the Uruguayan journalist, Enrique Rodríguez Larreta who was captured in Buenos Aires in July 1976. Upon his release, he presented a public report to Amnesty International in London in March 1977. In this report, he mentioned that he had been captured and secretly transferred to Uruguay together with around 20 other people, including his son. The majority of the individuals in this group were militants who belonged to the Partido por la Victoria del Pueblo (Party for the Victory of the People, PVP). Upon their arrival in Montevideo, they were firstly taken to the Casona de Punta Gorda secret prison, where they remained for around w0 days before being tranferred to another torture centre.

It is estimated that, of the hundreds of victims who passed through the centre, 35 were victims of Operation Condor’s system of transnational repressive coordination.

In 1983, while the military dictatorship was still in power, the National Defence Ministry sold the building by public tender to the wife of a high-ranking military officer from the Uruguayan Navy. That same day, he sold the building to a relative of a former representative of the Partido Colorado (Colorado Party), who was linked to extreme right-wing groups.

In 2014, a sign was put up outside the house indicating that it is a place of memory. The large property, which measures almost 6500 square feet, continues to be a luxurious private residence.

"Infierno chico", "La casona", "300 Carlos r"
Rambla República de México 5515
Institutional responsibility
Servico de Información y Defensa (SID)
Operating period
1974 - 1976
Current situation
Casa particular
Place ID
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