AFAD thanks you very much, Patricio!
12 July 2010
Dear bereaved family and friends of Patricio in Argentina and the rest of the world,
For the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) which was established in 1999, we have known Patricio since 1999, during the 15th Congress of FEDEFAM in Mar del Plata, Argentina. During our first meeting with him both in Mar del Plata and in his nice home in Buenos Aires, it seemed that we had already known him from years back because he was one of the nicest persons we have ever met. Never did we know that the FEDEFAM Congress in Mar del Plata was only a start of more than a decade of meaningful and fruitful friendship and camaraderie that our Federation had the opportunity to share with him. In all these years, we were together in many countries: In Argentina (1999), Sri Lanka(1999); Switzerland (in many occasions till a few days before his death); Guatemala (2003); Croatia (2003); Benin (2003); Tanzania (2003); Philippines (2005 and 2007); The Netherlands (2005); France (2003 and 2007) Indonesia (2007); Colombia (2010), Washington D.C. (2009-1010).
On the eve of our 4th Congress held in Jakarta, Indonesia on 31 May – 5 June 2010, Patricio was elected as the new Focal Point of the International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances. He brought renewed hopes for the Coalition, whose principal mandate is to work for as many ratifications as possible to ensure the entry into force and universal implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances.
We take this opportunity to fondly remember Patricio as a person, a friend, a comrade in this long-drawn struggle for a world without disappeared persons. Every time we met him, his warm greetings and beautiful smile always greeted us. Knowledgeable as he was, he could discuss human rights issues and various other topics under the sun. In intense discussions, he could be so transparent with his feelings but always maintaining composure. In a number of occasions, we called him to his home at the middle of the night to request him to come to Asia and always, he tried his utmost best never to fail us - always taking into consideration the cheapest flight available, neither minding the distance nor the long hours of waiting at various airports.
For us, Patricio contributed in no small measure to our development and growth as a Federation.
To recall, here in Asia, he was with us in Sri Lanka, during our infancy in 1999, he accompanied us in our meetings with the families of the victims, in meeting government agencies and in our discussion on the international phenomenon of enforced disappearances. In the Philippines, he was with us when we had our participatory capacity building evaluation where he took part in evaluating our work during our first seven years as a Federation and after which, participated in our concert entitled “Seeking.” The second time he was with us; he participated in our management training and shared about the struggles in Argentina and Latin America. From then, we traveled together to Indonesia where he spent time to talk to the victims and their families, lobbied for the Convention, etc.
In Africa, with high hopes, we worked hard together to give our share on how our situation was in our respective continents and how we responded through the formation of our respective federations, FEDEFAM and AFAD. We likewise partook of each other’s worry about the difficulty of forming the African network in view of the unique African context and the heterogeneous character of the participants during all those processes of forming the envisioned African Network Against Enforced Disappearances and just before his death, he shared his frustration, albeit with kind understanding, that such a network was not sustained.
We also shared moments of struggles in European countries. What we would like to remember the most was our joint celebration with the rest of the international movement against enforced disappearances, our friends from the international NGOs, our Geneva support groups, the UN delegations and with the late French Ambassador Bernard Kessedjian in that most euphoric moment when the UN Convention For the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances was adopted by the then UN Commission on Human Rights on 23 September 2005. Like all of us, and together with us, he was in his glorious state - enjoying the well-deserved champagne offered by the French government. Moreover, with the now Argentinean president, Christina Kirshner; with the late French Ambassador Kessedjian and with his companeras in Latin America, Martha Vasquez and Loyola Guzman, we celebrated the signing by 57 governments of the Convention on 7 February 2007 Paris, France.
In Latin American countries, we witnessed the intensive discussions of our companeras y companeros of FEDEFAM during their congresses. Always, Patricio had his words of wisdom and kind advice. His passion for truth and justice was transparent and his stories of the horrors of the dictatorship were vivid. Always, he spoke with great respect and admiration for the mothers, grandmothers, sisters, brothers and children of the disappeared in his beloved Argentina who tirelessly continue to search for their disappeared loved ones. Only very recently, in Colombia, we spoke of the psychosocial support in the process of searching for the disappeared and as always, with passion and with a loud voice, he inspired everyone with his presentations.
In North America, particularly in Washington DC., in these two consecutive years, we knocked at the doors of the White House and the US Congress asking the latter to listen to the cry of torture survivors and to approve legislations criminalizing torture and enforced disappearances. We braved the heat and the cold in front of the White House in the annual vigil for torture survivors. In these occasions, Patricio gave his best to participate – giving speeches, singing songs, marching with other survivors, reciting poems of which, his favorite one was: “Death Shall Have No Dominion.”
In many instances, he wrote for our publications. The wealth of his knowledge and experience, coupled with his writing ability, had helped enrich our publications.
And he was with us in some of our houses here in Asia, extending his friendship to us and remembering always, with his photographic memory, the many little things among our families and always concerned that from afar, all is well with us here in Asia.
To you, Fatima, Carlos, Amy and Blanca, thank you very much for sharing your beloved Patricio with us. He left with us an indelible imprint in our struggle here in Asia. He left with us a beautiful friendship and camaraderie which shall forever remain in our minds and hearts. Please be assured that “death is not extinguishing the light, but putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” His exemplary life is worth our commendation. His heroic death which occurred when he was fighting against enforced disappearances and for a world without disappeared persons will be remembered forever.
Our dearest Patricio, we had so much confidence in you that we really collectively put you as the then new focal point of the International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances. With a heart wide open, you accepted the position and immediately started so fast -- writing to all of us, working on the administrative matters while traveling to five countries in less than a month to share your experiences, to lobby with us, and in all these tasks, you never ever forgot the value of humanness - that we were friends and comrades in struggle for truth, justice and memory! How we wish we could have expressed our heartfelt gratitude to you when you were physically with us. But again, we know that while you are physically gone, but from the bottom of our hearts, your memory, your spirit and your good examples will never ever be forgotten.
To honor you is to continue our struggle so that the generations of today and tomorrow will have a better world to live in.
Farewell, our dearest friend and comrade. As you repeatedly recited recently:
“… and death shall have no dominion….”
Vaya con Dios….
MUGIYANTO MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO