RUBEN M. JOSEPH
Secretary General, Cardijn Community International (CCI)
Message on the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the disappearance of Pepe Palacio
I still remember the moments of tension and sadness when we in the Indian YCW were informed of the ‘disappearance’ of Pepe Palacio, Adult Collaborator to the IYCW in December 1975.
I was the National Secretary of the YCW-India at that time. It was a period when militant actions were carried out by many leaders in different parts of India. Everyone was in high spirits and determination to educate and mobilise young workers and launch as many actions to change the situations that did not allow them to live with ‘human dignity’.
There was a constant flow of information from the IYCW Secretariat. It was the time of ‘international solidarity actions’. Unlike present day technology, we did not have the means for speedy mmunication. Letters were sent by air-mail and it used to take a minimum of 10 to 15 days to reach.
It was also the period of ‘authoritarian regimes’ in Latin America. India YCW translated ‘INFO’ bulletin in Tamil. A Muslim young worker from my place of work was the editor of INFO. There was a series of INFO bulletins on the situation in each country in South America including Argentina.
Most of the leaders in India were aware of the situation in Argentina.
It was in this context, the news of Pepe’s disappearance was received by the YCW leaders in India. I used to be very emotional and with tears I shared the information about Pepe and the reaction of his family. I remember having been informed that one of the children used to pester Pepe’s wife about the whereabouts of his father but the mother had no answer. This moved me very much. This event also helped deepen my commitment to work towards ‘liberation’ from all oppressive structures.
Pepe became a ‘hero’ for us not to worship him but he became an ‘inspiration’ for us to deepen our commitment.
It is through the actions of every young worker in the YCW and through all those who passed the movement from the 70s that Pepe still lives and will continue to live.
I thank whole-heartedly the family of Pepe for enduring this great loss and sacrifice.
Ruben M. Joseph