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Archive of Terror
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WRLC Digital & Special Collections

Related Links:

  • CDyA
  • CDyA (mirror site)
  • Supreme Court of Paraguay
  • Catholic University of Asunción
  • The National Security Archive
  • Gelman Library
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    About This Collection

    Discovered in 1992 in Paraguay, the holdings of the Archive and Documentation Center for the Defense of Human Rights (CDyA) have been described as "five tons of reports and photos detail[ing] the arrest, interrogation and disappearance of thousands of political prisoners during General [Alfredo] Stroessner's 35-year dictatorship." The first repository of its kind ever discovered in Latin America, the full Archive contains internal records produced by the Paraguayan security forces during the Stroessner regime, which was in power from 1954 to 1989. Paraguayans call it the "Archive of Terror."

    The full collection of 300,000 documents is housed at the Supreme Court in Asunción, and is under the control of the CDyA. The database published here contains about 60,000 records that correspond to the documentation most requested in legal petitions relating to human rights cases submitted to the Court and the CDyA over the last fifteen years.

    In addition to documentation on human rights abuses committed by Paraguay's military and secret police, the holdings of the "Archive of Terror," according to The New York Times, "trace the creation and work of Operation Condor, a secret plan among security forces in six countries to crush left-wing political dissent" among what the Times describes as "a mountain of records detailing repression among United States-backed military regimes throughout South America during the cold war." (New York Times, "Files in Paraguay Detail Atrocities of U.S. Allies", August 11, 1999) As a result, the Archive and this database are being actively utilized by researchers, lawyers and human rights victims in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, among other nations.

    This database is the result of an agreement of cooperation to preserve and make public the files of the "Archive of Terror" signed between the Supreme Court of Paraguay, the Catholic University of Asunción and The National Security Archive, a public interest documentation center located at George Washington University. To provide maximum access to the CDyA holdings that carry multinational interest, the Supreme Court of Paraguay has authorized the inclusion of 246 document images pertaining specifically to Operation Condor. The selection of these documents has been made with the criteria of providing maximum access to the documentation, the technical limitations of publishing a vast collection of digital documents online, and respect for the privacy of individuals named in these records.

    All records in the database have been indexed in Spanish. The vast majority of the documents themselves are in Spanish; a few in Portuguese and other languages.

    The online publication of the database has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the Gelman Library of the George Washington University.