July 29, 2021

Loneliness, torture and dreams of freedom; the dungeon of the Uruguayan Tupamaros

Loneliness, torture and dreams of freedom; the dungeon of the Uruguayan Tupamaros



For twelve years, nine Uruguayan Tupamaros were kidnapped from their prison, traveling the country in solitude, suffering torture, going hungry and embraced the dream of freedom and desperate attempts to communicate between the hard walls of the cells through blows and scratches.

The story of this story is present in the book "Memories of the Dungeon" and one of its writers, extupamaro Mauricio Rosencof, spoke with Efe about the writing, his experiences and the film "The Night of 12 Years", based on the book and released this year.

The National Liberation Movement-Tupamaros, a Uruguayan political group that, during the 1960s and early 1970s, carried out a guerrilla war with the government of the South American country and was defeated in 1972, with its main imprisoned leaders.

With the arrival of the civic-military dictatorship in Uruguay (1973-1985), nine Tupamaros, still imprisoned, were taken and locked in dungeons for twelve years, where they could only listen to their own thoughts.

"We stopped being prisoners to become hostages," said the author of the book that portrays his and his companions' experiences, former Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro (1942-2016) and former President of Uruguay, José Mujica.

This story, whose first edition came out in 1987, this year was again on the table after the premiere of the film by Uruguayan director Álvaro Brechner "La noche de 12 años", which took her to the big screen.

Rosencof recalled that he was in dungeons of 1.80 meters long by 60 centimeters wide, that he could not talk to anyone and that he had to look for how to survive, between little food and fantasies that would help him to pass the time, without entering the madness.

"The protocol of confinement involved half a ration, not being able to talk to anyone, not even the guard or between us." We did not see each other in that time, we ended up being fat skeletons dreaming of giving us water, we learned to recycle our urine, hunger came running and we ended up catching flies that were like raisins with grapes with wings, they were delicacies, "he recalled.

During all these years, where they could not even have soap "because at night the rats took it" the only word with which they sought to mitigate the suffering was: 'resist' ".

"The objective of them (the military), with impunity, said: 'since we could not kill them when they fell, we are going to drive them crazy'", he stressed and pointed out that in some cases they succeeded.

Even Mujica, who today is one of the most recognized political figures on the continent, suffered delusions and thought that he was recorded in his dreams during the last years in prison.

"The prison had been transformed into the promised land" compared to his experiences in the dungeons, he says in his book, which he wrote together with the 'Ñato' Fernández Huidobro, where they also detail that they had 45 transfers during the twelve years.

The desperation for a conversation caused a Christmas to be achieved to open "a little window to life" when the Nato, from his cell, began to scratch the wall and Rosencof noticed that it was intentional. He responded by doing the same and forged a language that was transformed, over time, into a fluid conversation that lasted ten years with knuckles.

Such was the emotion with which the blows and scratches hit, that in a moment they had to stop because their knuckles were very hurt.

The book, written in conversation format between both protagonists, was a promise that was made during the confinement and was made on behalf of all those who suffered torture and abuse during the coup d'état.

Their production was done as soon as they were released and was done with conversations that they shared on a ranch located in the department of Canelones (south). Mujica, from Montevideo and without participating in the conversations for his political activity, listened to the recordings and gave them his approval.

"It was an accumulation of memories, of fresh memories, with the characteristic that there is neither a reproach, nor a complaint, it was within our laws of the game of militancy, we act as who we are and they acted like who they are", stressed.

The objective was to set the memory, call for reflection and tell what happened to a Uruguayan society that, at that time, "was blind".

The highlight for this story was when the director Álvaro Brechner became interested in making the film, which has as protagonists the Argentine Ricardo 'chino' Darín (Rosencof), the Uruguayan Alfonso Tort (Fernández Huidobro) and the Spanish Antonio de la Torre Martín ( Mujica).

Rosencof said that when he saw the film with Mujica and the protagonists, both he and the exmandatario were impressed because their experiences seemed like science fiction.

In addition, he noted that at the end of the story people applauded and cried.

According to Rosencof, the film allows, in addition to impacting the public with history, to bring young people closer so that they know what was the reality that the nine Tupamaros, during twelve years, had to pass.

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