A short biography of Uruguayan anarchist teacher Elena Quinteros, who was disappeared by the US-backed military dictatorship, written by Edgar Rodrigues.
She was born in Montevideo, Uruguay on 9 September 1945. She trained as a teacher at the Artigas Teacher Training School where she began her activism in the student union. In 1966, aged 21, she graduated as a teacher and found work at a school in Pando in Canelones. At that point she joined the Uruguayan Anarchist Federation (FAU) as well as the Student-worker Resistance (ROE), becoming active in the latter. Her activities were in the trade union field and she was part of the Socio-pedagogical Missions, an initiative launched by the lecturers from the Co-operative Rural Education Institute.
On 16 November 1967 she suffered her first arrest but was released the next day. In October 1969 she was arrested again, tried and sent to prison, remaining there until October 1970. In 1975 she was dismissed from her post by the dictatorship.
On 26 June 1976 she was arrested yet again and taken1 to the quarters of 13th Infantry Battalion before being moved from there under heavy escort on 28 June to prevent any contact with her organisation. Whilst under escort, she suddenly jumped over the Venezuelan Embassy’s wall, calling out her name and asking for sanctuary: the embassy staff made to help her but her escort managed to stop them helping and thwart the escape. There followed a tug-of-war between the embassy staff and the military personnel who finally dragged Quinteros away to an armoured car. Her leg broken in the escape attempt, she was taken back to the 13th Infantry where the Uruguayan dictatorship had installed a torture centre. And that was the last news heard from Quinteros. The Venezuelan ambassador to Uruguay, Julio Ramos, telephoned the Uruguayan Foreign Affairs ministry and made a complaint to under-secretary Guido Michelin Salomón since the minister, Juan Carlos Blanco, was not at the ministry. This grew into a major diplomatic incident that culminated in Venezuela’s cutting off diplomatic relations.
In October 2002, Judge Eduardo Cavalli found former minister Juan Carlos Blanco primarily responsible for the disappearance of Elena Quinteros and had him arraigned on charges of deprivation of liberty:
This is how Elena is remembered by her comrades in the FAU: “She said she was persistent. Persistent in her class outlook. She despised social climbing, reformism or electioneering … She fought for a people’s revolution, with the people in pride of place, for people’s justice and not for any cobbled together solutions. She was never for authoritarian or exploitative solutions that have been extensively tried and generally been such disasters for the workers (…)” “Not to mention her impeccable moral outlook. Her sisterhood and selflessness were also part and parcel of this comrade who shall be part of us forever.”
Taken from http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/2jm6zp
- 1 libcom note: we have made a slight correction here to the original text which stated she was arrested at the Venezuelan Embassy