“Destino Final” (Final Destination) is an expression in Spanish used by pilots on flights to indicate the place of arrival of an airplane. This exhibit tells of an investigation into the events and consequences of the Argentinian military dictatorship and “death flights”.
A long project that started around 2003, it unites photography and investigation and brought together photographer Giancarlo Ceraudo and investigative journalist Miriam Lewin, a former desaparacida, to find the airplanes and the flight plans used by the Argentinian military junta to eliminate the opponents of the regime from 1976 to 1983.
For about 5,000 people “Destino Final” has a heinous meaning: drugged and unconscious, these victims were loaded on military airplanes sadly known as “death flights” before being thrown into the Atlantic Ocean, their final destination.
Only some of their bodies have been found. The families of the desaparacidos are still looking for the remains of the bodies and are waiting for justice.
Ceraudo and Lewin conducted an investigation that brought them to discover five airplanes of the Argentinian Navy used for the “Death Flights” and the detailed flight plans, kept on board for more than 30 years. The planes were found in the Argentinian cities of Buenos Aires and Bahia Blanca (two Lockheed Electra models) and in Luxembourg, England and Fort Lauderdale in the United States (3 Short Skyvan models).
The flight plans included the model of the airplane, the serial number, the date of flight, the itinerary, the name of the pilot, the duration of the mission: everything was recorded. These documents represent incredible and precious (incriminating) evidence that have been handed over to the Argentine judicial authorities.
Part of the investigation focused on a group of families of desaparacidos, including the founders of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo and two French nuns that were kidnapped after a gathering in the Santa Cruz Church, Buenos Aires, and thrown alive from airplanes. A few days after the kidnapping, the ocean returned some of the corpses, found on the Santa Teresita beach, 300 kms south of Buenos Aires. Cross-referencing the forensic medical-legal evidence of the bodies on file, the public prosecutor concluded that the victims were thrown from the Skyvan PA51, found by Ceraudo and Lewin in Fort Lauderdale in Florida.
On the 12 April, 2011, following the examination of this evidence and, in particular, the flight plans found, the attorney general of the Buenos Aires Court, demanded the arrest of Enrique José De Saint Georges, Mario Daniel Arru and Alejandro Domingo D’Agostino, three of the pilots apparently involved in the “Death Flight” operated by the Skyvan PA51 the night of the 14 December 1977. Since November 2012, the three pilots have been under arrest, waiting for their trial. The sentencing is scheduled for the end of 2017.
Over the course of many years, Giancarlo Ceraudo has been in several detention centers and death centers; he has worked with the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo and with the forensic anthropologists; he has also photographed some of the survivors.
“Destino Final” tells the story of a impassioned investigative work that has broken the silence on one of the saddest pages of recent history, not only in Argentina.