Norma Bonazzo

As Interviewed by Alex Eleftheriades, March 21, 2019

Norma Bonazzo: In Her Own Words

One of the most horrible things as a child was seeing dead people -- a lot of dead people. For example, I used to live... Our house was maybe a half I would say about half a mile away from the cemetery. And I remember almost every day you would hear the garbage truck is not as fancy as this one, it’s just a big metal truck with the back is open. They used to have this special bell that they would ring throughout the city. They were like, “Okay, we have dead people.”

They would go in to cemetery. And you would see, since we were right there in the path to the cemetery, we would hear that and as kids you know, you were like, “oh, look they are bringing more dead people.” You know -- it was like nothing; we were so used to it. But the saddest thing that I remember: the family members – moms and relatives, running, running after the truck. Because they were like, “Oh I haven’t seen my cousin, I haven’t seen so and so for days maybe they are in the truck.”

So they used to take them to the cemetery and dump the bodies, like this at the entrance. I mean you would see between 5 [to] 15 bodies, and they were all killed by bullets. They were usually just having either their underwear -- just their underwear. Sometimes they used to have pants and underwear, nothing else -- and we would always wondered why they were always like that. Because either the military, the soldiers or they were guerrilleros*, they would take their uniform off so people would not know who was the one getting killed. If that person was a soldier or the person was a guerrillero, they didn’t want people, I guess, to have a count -- you know, or to find out if the person was a soldier.

I guess for the military that there were so many dead soldiers that they did not take their time like you do here in the United States -- when you have a soldier that dies, you do so much things for them to say “Thank you for serving.” Over there -- no. They would leave you – you’re dead, you’re dead. They would leave you close to the trash cans and somebody would pick you up or the truck would pick you up. Or they would leave you -- a lot of people would throw bodies in the river…

We had one big river close to our house. And it was beautiful just to go there and try to walk -- but there you go, if you would look at the river you would see dead people there. You would see bodies flowing. Females, males -- if it was a female you knew it was a guerrillero, because there were a lot of female fighters.

*Communist guerilla fighters who were fighting government forces