Two dictatorship survivors called on subway passengers not to vote for far-right and denialist candidate Javier Milei (La Libertad Avanza, LLA) ahead of the November 19 run-off.
The two survivors are Elsa Lombardo, who was kidnapped and detained at a clandestine detention center, and Ana Fernández Careaga, the daughter of a woman kidnapped by the military and granddaughter of a Mother of Plaza de Mayo co-founder. They decided to tell their stories to Buenos Aires city subway passengers in order to express their concern over the prospect of Milei winning.
Footage of Lombardo speaking to B subway line passengers surfaced Monday. In the video, she tells them that she was kidnapped by police in 1978. She was held hostage for 27 days in two clandestine detention centers: el Banco, located in Buenos Aires province, and el Olimpo, in Buenos Aires City.
“People often ask me how am I still alive. Why wasn’t I disappeared, like all the others,” Lombardo told passengers. She said that if the military officers thought someone wouldn’t change their way of thinking while detained, they’d kill them. In her case, they told her they had voted to keep her alive, because they believed she could be persuaded to change her mind.
“I am telling this story because there are elections on Sunday. I don’t want what happened in this country to be repeated ever again,” she said.
Lombardo called to vote for better education, healthcare, housing, and other improvements for society.
“I am asking you, in the name of the thousands who are gone, of the babies who were never found again, let us please think very carefully about our vote so we never go back to the dark night of the dictatorship, the disappearances, the fear, and the horror,” Lombardo said.
Ana Fernández Careaga was filmed last week explicitly asking A line passengers not to vote for Milei, saying she was “very worried.” Fernández’s mother is Ana Careaga, who was 16 and pregnant with Fernández when she was kidnapped and later tortured at the clandestine detention center known as Club Atlético, in Buenos Aires City.
“[My mother] was taken to a concentration camp where they took everything away from her, even her name; she was assigned a letter and a number,” Fernández said. “She was brutally tortured; she turned 17 in that concentration camp.”
She also mentioned her grandmother, Esther Ballestrino de Careaga, one of the co-founders of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo. Ballestrino was kidnapped and taken to the Navy School of Mechanics (ESMA, by its Spanish initials) in 1977. Shortly after, she was killed in a death flight along with another 11 people who were also trying to find people detained by the dictatorship in 1977. Among them were fellow Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Azucena Villaflor and María Ponce de Bianco, as well as French nuns Leonie Duquet and Alice Domon.
Fernández mentioned that one of the ESMA torturers was Jorge Tigre Acosta, a former Navy captain “who is now calling to vote for Milei.”
“I don’t want violence for my children,” Fernández said. “I love this country, I want to live here, and I want us all to live with our differences, showing our differences without the fear of being kidnapped, tortured, or thrown alive in the sea.”
“Please, for democracy’s sake, don’t vote for Milei,” she said. Both Lombardo and Fernández were applauded by many passengers. Some even came up to hug Lombardo.