Although the repressive actions had begun well before the coup d’état, and were tolerated and protected by the constitutional government and connected to the activities of the para-police bands of the Anti-Communist Argentine Alliance (the Triple A) in the realms of politics, unions, and education,10 such actions reached much greater proportions with the coup of March 1976. The armed forces took over command and responsibility for carrying out repressive actions, coordinating the activities of the security bodies at a national level11 and replacing the “Triple A’s” selective repression with the efficient machinery of the terrorist state. Within this new framework, the modality of repression included a double system supported by state power, in which a facade of legality12 was combined with the clandestine or paralegal activities of “task forces.” The repressive work implemented since the coup d’état had specific characteristics: it was designed, coordinated and executed by the armed forces and counted on the active participation of other repressive forces (including the federal or provincial police); it was marked by a fundamentally clandestine or “paralegal” nature, characterized by the work of the “task groups” and the existence of clandestine detention centers; it incorporated the systematic use of torture on prisoners, kidnapping, shootings, and disappearances, as well as the appropriation of minors born in captivity, and common crimes. It was led by a relentless logic which delimited the annihilation of the political-military organizations’ militants as well as their superficial structures as an objective, but also

included a touch of chance, as it pursued – and eventually eliminated – people with no political relevance. Repressive practice followed a territorial scheme represented by dividing the forces into army corps (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th), each of them responsible for a system of clandestine detention centers scattered throughout the entire nation, and task forces with different areas of operation.13 In the particular case of the 2nd Corps, whose headquarters were in the city of Rosario, the provincial police and penitentiary forces had been placed under the “operational control” of the command of that army corps since late 1975, with the objective of repressing “subversion.”14 After 1975 repressive activities became more intense and included the detention of militants, “rake” operations in manufacturing areas (which meant the control of the population and eventually massive detentions), and control over the university and the urban front in general. Prisons began to increase their populations, and improvised detention centers began to appear at military buildings, police stations, and at the police headquarters in Rosario. In September 1975, Lieutenant General Genaro Díaz Bessone assumed leadership of the 2nd Corps. In October 1976, after his appointment to lead the national planning ministry, the military command was transferred to Lieutenant General Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri until, in 1979, changes higher up in the armed forces led him to more senior assignments.15 In early March 1976, Commander of the Gendarmerie Agustín Feced was appointed as chief of police of Regional Unit II. Feced would play a central role in the design and execution of the repression within the scope of the 2nd Corps.16 From that moment on, the police and military forces were reorganized and recoordinated, and task forces began their activities, the main objective of which was to carry out repressive actions. These forces were formed by members of the police and/or military forces, and included the participation of some civilians. In several cases, their members had already been part of semi-official clandestine groups. They learned to use nicknames or false names and disguises. In several cases, they had already been part of semi-official clandestine groups such as Triple A, where they had acquired experience in the “counterinsurgency fight” by committing kidnappings, murders, and criminal activities. These gangs or brigades generally operated in civilian clothing and on some occasions used vehicles without visible identification. They were also in charge of kidnapping, murdering, torturing and/or “disappearing” people or corpses, as well as actions such as the looting of raided homes. Within the new context the military regime provided police and military intelligence services for the task of locating those individuals or groups they targeted for eradication, many of whom had already been detected and followed since the beginning of the 1970s. Potential victims of the repression were designated by reference to their militant activities or to some degree of connection with what police and intelligence jargon called “gangs of subversive criminals” or “gangs of terrorist criminals,” mainly formed by political-military organizations which operated at the regional level and included legal divisions or “surface” structures at the neighborhood, union, and educational levels.17