Image: Giancarlo Ceraudo
Argentina's Death Flights during the Dirty War
Destino Final is the Spanish term for “final destination”, the final arrival place of any plane trip. For at least 5,000 people in opposition to the Argentine military dictatorship, this term acquired an atrocious meaning: drugged and loaded on military planes, infamously known as “death flights”, they are thrown, still alive, in the final part of the Rio de la Plata, just before it reaches the Atlantic Ocean, their final, definitive destination.
From 1976 until 1983, a military dictatorship governed Argentina. During the dictatorship, the military waged a war against “subversion”, known in the international press as the so-called Dirty War and attempted to purge the country of all individuals they considered to be “subversives”. An estimated 30,000 people died at the hands of the military, which executed a systematic plan to exterminate subversives in concentration camps. 4,000 detainees, imprisoned in these centres, were killed. Just a few of their bodies were recovered. Their families are still looking for their remains and are seeking punishment for the guilty. Hundreds of grandmothers await the identification of their grandchildren born in captivity and robbed by the military.
Photographer Giancarlo Ceraudo, together with journalist and ex-desaparecida (disappeared) Miriam Lewin, began an investigation that led to the discovery, after more than 30 years, of five Navy planes used for the “death flights”, and most importantly, of the detailed flight plans. Everything was recorded. What has been discovered by the two journalists is now seen by prosecutors as proof and is used for indictments. Lawyers have already renamed them “the most important documents on the dictatorship found in the last 10 years”. All these documents are now in the hands of judicial authorities, trial cases have been re-opened and are currently in progress.
Ceraudo’s photographic investigation, developed over more than eight years, documents this discovery, as well as the work of the forensic anthropologists, the tenacious fight of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, the citizen protests, and the ongoing court trials. The emotional core of the work is the portrayal of the few survivors, as well as the relatives of desaparecidos, and the interiors of the detention and torture centres, the stage for these atrocious events, and tracing the dark side of Argentina’s modern history.
Giancarlo Ceraudo/Schilt Publishing
Maker(s): Giancarlo Ceraudo, Miriam Lewin
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