Uruguay - Brazil


In your hands…

Letter from Roger Rodriguez to the Chief Justice of the Federal Supreme Court of Brazil, Gilmar Mendes, who is to decide on the extradition of the Uruguayan torturer, colonel Manuel Cordero, who fled to Brazil in 2004 to escape justice.

Manuel Cordero




Your Excellency,

The Chief Justice of the

Federal Supreme Court of Brazil,

Dr. Gilmar Mendes



Dear Sir,

You have a historic decision in your hands.

You will determine if the people, the judicial system and the State have the right to judge criminals accused of crimes against humanity. And you will also be deciding if Brazil continues to harbor human rights violators from around the world.


Today you have in your hands the power to decide on the extradition of Uruguayan torturer colonel Manuel Cordero Piacentini, who sought refuge in Brazil in 2004, fleeing from a trial in Uruguay, where a judge declared him in contempt in a proceeding in which he was charged with “advocacy of torture.”


Because colonel Cordero publicly stated that he supported the use of physical coercion to obtain a confession from prisoners, and, therefore, he explicitly vindicated his use of torture on opponents of the Uruguayan dictatorship, which he served.


Because colonel Cordero later refused to appear before the criminal court that summoned him to answer for his public statements, employing countless excuses and legal ploys to avoid appearing in court, and ultimately fleeing to Brazil and declaring himself a “political refugee.”


In your hands is the responsibility of granting or denying the requests for extradition issued by an Argentinean judge and a Uruguayan judge, who are investigating this officer for his involvement in “Operation Condor” and for the kidnapping and forced disappearance of Uruguayan civilians in Argentina in 1976.


Because colonel Cordero was one of the heads of the coordinated repression carried out by the region’s dictatorships, and he is responsible for the forced disappearance of children and the torturing of hundreds of Uruguayans in Automotores Orletti, the clandestine detention center of the city of Buenos Aires.


Because colonel Cordero went as far as raping a woman in front of her partner, the unionist León Duarte, to extort money from him. He also extorted money from another unionist, Gerardo Gatti, and he is one of the persons behind the disappearance of the Uruguayan Adalberto Soba, among others…


What is actually in your hands is merely the obligation of determining whether the requests made by the Argentinean and Uruguayan courts are in accordance with Brazil’s legal regulations, to then decide, within due process of law, on the rights that colonel Manuel Cordero Piacentini undeniably has.


But also in your hands is the right that the families of the victims of these imprescriptible crimes against humanity have to the truth, the right to find out what happened to their loved ones, whose cherished laughter they have lost in this infamous silence, the right to know where their remains are and to give them proper burial.


Also in your hands is the right that the people who suffered such atrocious circumstances have to remember, because knowing what happened is essential to understanding history and preventing the same from happening in the future, and from affecting my children, or your children, or our grandchildren.


Also in your hands is the credibility of the court system, of justices and judges, of prosecutors and of the very laws that we set for ourselves to live together in peace… Because when someone who has committed crimes against humanity is allowed to go free, without being brought to justice, a situation of impunity is generated that infects the whole of society.


In your hands is the power that you, a human being like myself, have of achieving justice by allowing other judges, in other countries, to also achieve justice under the laws established by their people. Because that is what this is about: finding the truth and achieving justice.


Sincerely yours,


Roger Rodriguez*

Montevideo, October 2008




Justice Cézar Peluso – Assistant Chief Justice.

Justice Celso de Mello.

Justice Marco Aurélio.

Justice Ellen Gracie.

Justice Carlos Britto.

Justice Joaquim Barbosa.

Justice Eros Grau.

Justice Ricardo Lewandowski.

Justice Cármen Lúcia.

Justice Menezes Direito.




* Uruguayan journalist. 48 years old. Married with three children and a grandchild. Honorable Mention, 1984 Vladimir Herzog Prize. Human Rights Journalism Prize – MJDH-OAB/RS - Porto Alegre 2002. His investigations led to the discovery of Simón Riquelo, who was kidnapped and disappeared in 1976 when he was an infant. He denounced the clandestine flights of Operation Condor and was the first to interview the agent who claims former president Joao Goulart was assassinated.


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