By WOLA Senior Fellow Jo-Marie Burt
Originally published by Al-Jazeera
On Sundays Rubén Villanueva Toro liked to escape the small village of Buena Vista nestled high in the Andean mountains where he was a school principal. On the afternoon of March 30, 1990, he was in the nearby town of Lircay. He was near the main plaza with friends when a group of military officers stopped them and asked for their identity cards. Ruben did not have his electoral card. He was detained and taken to the military base in Lircay. "It’s just a routine detention", his friends were assured. But the hours passed, and Villanueva Toro remained in custody.
The following day, Ruben’s identity card in hand, Wilber Villanueva went to the Lircay military base to try to get his brother released. To his surprise, he, too, was arrested on the order of Army Captain Carlos Paz Figueroa, head of the base. He was savagely tortured. Released the following day, he went to a hospital to have his injuries tended to. But Wilber Villanueva got no information about the whereabouts of his brother. On the contrary, he was told by Paz Figueroa that his brother was not being held at the base.
Villanueva Toro’s relatives decried his disappearance and reported it to local and national authorities, but to no avail. He remains missing to this day.