I did it. I came forward during CONADEP and I told them what I saw. This story is what I never told you, I never told Gus, I never told anyone. I told them how I followed Diaz each day after class. I told them how I noticed his scuffed shoes, his tardiness, his nervous sweat. And I told them how I saw them take him away.
I thought talking would help, just like it did with Mona and Sofia. I remember sitting in the courthouse, and to my left I saw the men who have ruled over my beautiful country, and ruled over my thoughts and my body and my insides. I spit it all out, everything I had seen:
“Professor Diaz was always very prompt to class. He was never late, and would always mark us absent if we showed up just a minute after the start of class. A girl in my class stopped showing up in the spring of 1980. Her name was Selma. At first Diaz wasn’t taken aback by her disappearance. One of many he had been privy to, I guess. But soon after she was gone, Diaz started to change. I noticed his shoulders hanging lower, his face sunken, his shoes scuffed, and most noticeably, he was late. I began to follow him in my own stage of manic. I was not well at this time, I was stuck living with my parents out of the city, I felt stir crazy and scared, and soon I became obsessed with my professors sudden change. I began to follow him after class, for weeks. He lived in the Belgrano, close to my mothers farm stand, so it was easy enough.
I watched from behind his apartment building. He was talking to a man on the front steps. The man was familiar to me, I had seen him around the University from time to time, talking to Diaz after class. He was very tall, and he wore traditional military garb, and they were friends, I thought. Diaz was always on “their side” Then I heard terse words being spoken, Diaz’s eyes grew wide, while his friend clenched his shoulders tighter and tighter. “No, No, please no, I beg of you, Please God No,” These are the words Diaz yelped as his friend pulled him onto the street. A car pulled up next to them, and Diaz’s body went limp with fear as the tall military man shoved him in the car. After that, he was gone.”
After Alfonsin called for the truth commission, I was riding on such a high. Remember? I saw my exposure as the pathway to final happiness. After I wrote to you, I finally told Gus what I had seen. I don’t recall exactly what happened, as it was almost seven years ago, but I do remember what followed. I signed up as one of the 1,400 witnesses, broadcasted on national television, silent yet visible in our pain and anger.
My testimony was worthwhile, or so I thought. Every week, reading the testimonies in the El Diario Del Judicio created an overwhelming sadness throughout the country. Both Mona and Sofia saw the testimonies of their friends family members, I saw neighbors of mine come forward discussing their loss. It became clear that people kept their pain to themselves, just like I had. What was this commission even doing for us??? I don’t even know! We listened and watch for two years, as Alfonsin led CONADEP, started trials, led body exhumations, and I just felt torn. Bonafini has made a good point: while we wanted to find our children, our friends, our mentors, these exhumations were in some ways more painful than helpful.
It wasn’t until the hearings began in ’85 that we felt truly vindicated. I personally wanted every single person to just fucking die. Killed, slaughtered, dumped from planes, that’s what they all deserved. I remember the day Videla and Massera were put away. Suddenly my pain seemed worth it in a way.
After my testimony, my head cleared up. I stopped working my restaurant jobs and I got a job at UBA as a teaching assistant. In June of 1986, Gus and I got married. It was a very happy day, my mother and father watched proudly as I walked down the aisle. They got to cherish the olive skinned girl, small yet powerful; marrying a well-to-do man they knew would take care of her. Moving forward and onward, I can’t help but feel meaningless. Gus takes care of me, but I’m not sure I want to be taken care of for the rest of my life. I still see Mona and Sofia, we lead our book group, we talk of our feminist dreams, we retrace our youthful steps, dreaming big dreams we may never fulfill.
And today, Menem has decided to let them all go. I don’t understand how one person can undo so much. I’m just exhausted, and I’m only 31.