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News > World

Argentines Remember the Victims of the ‘Night of the Pencils'

  • The sign reads,

    The sign reads, "The pencils keep on writing." | Photo: Twitter/ @MatiasCastaok

Published 16 September 2021

On Sept. 16, 1976, ten high school students were kidnapped, tortured, and disappeared by the dictatorship.

Forty-five years ago, high school students from La Plata's Colegio Normal 3 were kidnapped by Buenos Aires Police officers as part of a repressive operation known as ‘The Night of the Pencils’.


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On the night of Sept. 16, 1976, a police and Army Battalion 601 troops operation was launched to capture ten young people aged between 16 and 18, most of whom were members of the Union of Secondary Students (USS). They were demanding a free secondary school transportation ticket.

All of them were taken to "Arana", a clandestine detention center where they were tortured for weeks. Years later, documents found in the Buenos Aires Police described the actions that the dictatorship implemented against these young people, who were defined as "members of a potential subversive hotbed."

On Thursday, thousands of citizens will remember, as every year, those ten high school students, six of whom are still missing. The USS has called a caravan, which will start from the Italia Square in La Plata City and will end at the door of the Infrastructure Ministry in Buenos Aires.

Marta Ungaro, sister of the disappeared student Horacio Ungaro, stated that this anniversary takes on special significance given the advance of negationist positions, including some right-wing forces defending the dictatorship.

"We have to be united and defend all our rights", Ungaro said and stressed the need to activate the mechanisms of memory, truth, and justice already embodied in the Argentine social conscience.

Every Sept. 16 since 2006, Argentineans commemorate the High School Students' Rights Day in recognition of the struggle of this group of young militants. This national celebration was established by President Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007).

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