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For the film, see Night of the Pencils (film) (1986).

The Night of the Pencils (in (Spanish: ''La Noche de los Lápices''), was a series of kidnappings and forced disappearances, followed by the torture, rape, and murder of a number of young students during the last Argentine dictatorship (known as the National Reorganization Process). The kidnappings took place over the course of several days beginning on September 16, 1976.



The victims were for the most part militants or ex-militants belonging to the "Union of High School Students of La Plata" (Union de Estudiantes Secundarios de La Plata, or UES). This student organization, along with other organizations, had been active in protesting and demanding a series of student benefits, mainly free public student transportion, from the Argentine Minister of Public Works.

These circumstances, in conjunction with the testimony of one of the survivors, Pablo Díaz, are widely believed to validate the hypothesis that the kidnappings were a direct consequence of these protests and activism. However, it is the belief of other survivors, such as Emilce Moler, that the student's benefits' demands had no direct bearing on the kidnappings, but rather it was the mere fact that the students were considered to be "militant" by the military regime that was the catalyst for the kidnappings and detentions.[1]

Jorge Falcone, the brother of one of the kidnapped students, Maria Claudia, has maintained that her activities against the military dictatorship went beyond student protests, and that on the day she was kidnapped she was hiding weapons in her aunt's residence and was prepared to use them. [2]

He also defended his sister's commitment to the Montoneros guerrilla movement in Argentina:

"My sister wasn't Little Red Riding Hood who the wolf gulped down. She was a revolutionary militant. […] The militant was the type who in a moment could send a molotov flying in a lightning act... They could also carry out support action in a major military operation."[3]

The kidnappings

The victims were 10 students, mainly current or former activists and members of the High School Student Union of the city of La Plata, who had been demanding the creation of a free travel pass. Such demands were deemed subversive by the dictatorship. The students were held for months in several illegal detention centers, where they were tortured, some of them raped, and ultimately presumed murdered. Only 4 of the 10 students are known to have survived. The other six, according to testimony by survivor Pablo Diaz, were executed sometime during the first week of January, 1977. [4] The kidnapped students were:

Name Age (in 1976) Date of Disappearance Current Status Additional Details
Maria Claudia Falcone 16 September 16 1976 Missing Kidnapped from her grandmother's house along with her friend María Clara Ciocchini.
Claudio de Acha 17 September 16 1976 Missing Kidnapped while at the the house of Horacio Ungaro.
Gustavo Calotti 18 September 8 1976 Survivor Although kidnapped on September 8, he is considered a survivor of the "Night of the Pencils" due to his association with the other students.
Maria Clara Ciocchini 18 September 16 1976 Missing Kidnapped along with María Claudia Falcone.
Pablo Díaz 18 September 21 1976 Survivor In 1985 he made his experiences public while testifying in court.
Francisco López Muntaner 16 September 16 1976 Missing
Patricia Miranda 17 September 17 1976 Survivor She had not participated in, nor did she belong to any political or militant organizations. She was held until March 1978.
Emilce Moler 17 September 17 1976 Survivor
Daniel A. Racero 18 September 16 1976 Missing
Horacio Ungaro 17 September 16 1976 Missing

The story of the students from their kidnapping until their death or release was depicted by the 1986 film Night of the Pencils, directed by Héctor Olivera.

The testimony of Pablo Díaz, the last survivor to be released, served as the basis for a song with the same title by Canarian singer Rogelio Botanz.

See also



  • Seoane, María y Hector Ruiz Nuñez: La Noche de los Lápices. Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 2003. ISBN 950-07-2352-2 Registro en Cámara Argentina del Libro
  • Comisión Nacional sobre la Desaparición de Personas (CONADEP): Nunca más. Buenos Aires: Eudeba, 1984.

External links



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