National Security Archive Briefing Book

Arianna Afsari


The story of the fallen during the Montoneros Counteroffensive (1979-1980)


Figure 1: Mónica Susana Pinus de Binstock and Horacio Domingo Campiglia “Petrus”https://amerika21.de/2014/11/109592/dokumente-operation-condor

May 14, 2018, Williamsburg, VA – The National Security Archive today releases declassified documents that illustrate human rights violations committed against two members the Argentine leftist insurgent organization, the Montoneros. Mónica Susana Pinus de Binstock and Horacio Domingo Campiglia “Petrus” had been living outside of Argentina in Mexico when they decided to participate in the strategic counteroffensive launched by the Montoneros in late 1979 in Argentina. More specifically, Horacio Campiglia and Susana Binstock embarked on the counteroffensive as members of a special Montonero unit called the TEI (Special Infantry Troops). During the Montonero counteroffensive, Argentine security forces were successful in eliminating many of these exiled Montonero collaborators thanks to the collaboration of Condor-member foreign governments. In the case of Mónica Pinus (27 years old) and Horacio Campiglia (30 years old), the pair boarded flight Viasa 344 from Panamá, which had a stop in Caracas, and with final destination to Rio de Janeiro. Under the stipulations of Plan Condor, the Brazilian government colluded with and allowed Argentine military forces to operate and arrest Argentine insurgents on Brazilian territory. Therefore, when their flight landed in Galeão Airport in Rio on March 12, 1980, the two Montoneros were surprised by Brazilian soldiers that separated them from the rest of the passengers and promptly handed them over to members of Batallón 601 (Argentine military intelligence) who placed them on another plane Hércules C130 de la Fuerza Aérea Argentina destined for Argentina (Larraquy 189). Once in Argentina, the pair were taken to Campo de Mayo detainment center and were officially never seen again.


This briefing book consisting of six selected documents illuminates the confusing circumstances surrounding the disappearances of Susana Binstock and Horacio Campiglia, specifically how Batallón 601 came to know about the pair’s travel plans to Rio de Janeiro. In his book Fuimos Soldados: Historia secreta de la contraofensiva montonera, Marcelo Larraquy describes the disappearances of Horacio Campiglia and Susana Binstock as an enigma, and he investigates the possible answers to a vital question that he proposes: “¿Cómo sabían los militares argentinos que viajarían en ese avión ese día?” (Larraquy 189). The first hypothesis Larraquy explores is one that maintains that the abductions of the two Montoneros was the direct cause of “la confesión del jefe operativo de las TEI en la Argentina, […] García Ferré,” who was aware of Pinus and Campiglia’s travel plans to Rio. Larraquy strengthens his argument by stating that “los únicos que conocían las identidades bajo las cuales viajaban eran los miembros de la Secretaría Técnica de Montoneros, quienes proveían documentos y […] los boletos de avión.” This claim of Ferré’s participation is supported by Document 5, Conversation with Argentine Intelligence Source, April 7, 1980.However, there exists another conjecture that the information that lead to the abductions of Pinus and Campiglia came from Panamá, where “estaban asentados oficiales de inteligencia del Batallón 601 y de la Marina Argentina, quienes podían operar con facilidad el territorio” (Larraquy 191). However, this second theory is unsubstantiated by any document in this briefing book. Although the circumstances surrounding their kidnapping by Argentine forces are still unclear, Larraquy asserts that it is certain that Horacio Campiglia and Susana Binstock were illegally detained at Campo de Mayo detention center, along with other arrested participants of the counteroffensive. The following six documents offer more insight into the abduction of Horacio Campiglia and Susana Binstock by Argentine intelligence with Brazilian collaboration in Brazil, as well as their detention at Campo de Mayo. However, Documents 1 (March 3, 1975) and 2 (July 18, 1978) outline Horacio Campiglia’s and Susana Binstock’s involvements in subversive activity before their respective exiles and the period of the Montonero counteroffensive (1979-1980).



Document 1: Subject: Joven desaparecida, March 3, 1975

[FBI Condor f14n2389381]


This newspaper clip describes Mónica Pinus’s disappearance at 22 years old in Buenos Aires. The document states that a little after midnight on Thursday, Mónica was shot twice in the legs by unknown individuals while she was in “Parque Quirno” with four other youths. The police later arrived and took her to “Instituto de Cirugia de Haedo,” where she was kept in police custody. Her father, Leon Pinus, also disappeared after he tried to visit her at the Instituto, but he was later released. However, the article does not mention Mónica’s own release, and merely affirms that: “de aquí salió para la seccional 4ª de Hurlingham para la seccional 4ª de Hurlingham acompañada por personal de esa dependencia.” In Seccional 4ª no further details were given.


Document 2: Subject: Summary of Terrorist and Related Activities, July 18, 1978

[ArgentinaState Department Declassification Project 0000A8FD.tif]


This fifteen-page report from the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires to U.S. Secretary of State, Edmund Muskie offers a review of political violence and terrorist activities that have been reported to the U.S. Embassy by Argentine security forces during the month of June 1978. Horacio Domingo Campiglia is listed on page 12, under sub-section “List of Senior Montonero Officials Present Operating Abroad.” Based on this report, Campiglia, also known as “Petrus,” was the military secretary of the Montoneros, and active in Brazil. He is a native of Argentina, born on June 6, 1949. Although a year shy of the Montonero counteroffensive, this document situates Campiglia and his activities about a year before he flew to Rio de Janeiro as part of the counteroffensive, only to be captured by Batallón 601 and taken back to Argentina.


Document 3: Subject: Informe sobre la situación de los derechos humanos en Argentina (octubre de 1979 – octubre de 1980)

[ArgentinaState Department Declassification Project0000AFA5.tif]


This comprehensive report published by Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) in Buenos Aires outlining the human rights situation in Argentina between October 1979 and October 1980 is significant because the document spans the period of the Montonero counteroffensive, during which formerly exiled Argentine insurgents who returned to Argentina to participate in the counteroffensive were arrested, kidnapped, illegally detained, and killed at the hands of Argentine security forces. Information is listed regarding the nature of the disappearances of Horacio Domingo Campiglia and Mónica Susana Pinus de Binstock on page 11 of this 36-paged report, under sub-section “Secuestros en el exterior, atribuidos a agentes del Gobierno argentino.” Contrary to the claim in other documents that Campiglia and Pinus de Binstock were arrested in Brazil, this report affirms that the pair probably disappeared in the airport in Caracas, Venezuela during their layover. In his book, Fuimos Soldados: Historia secreta de la contraofensiva montonera, Marcelo Larraquy writes: “Pilar Calveiro, esposa de Campiglia, ella lo despidió desde México el 7 de marzo y luego su marido abordó el avión el 11 desde Panamá, es posible que en esos cuatro días la inteligencia miliar argentina hubiese recibido información sobre su identidad de cobertura y la fecha de su partida a Brasil” (Larraquy 191). Based on the evidence provided by the rest of the documents as well as Larraquy’s writing, it is possible that Argentine military intelligence found out about the two Montoneros’ travel plans to Brazil and began planning their arrest before the pair arrived in Rio.



Document 4: Subject: Return of Montoneros to Argentina, November 15, 1979

[Department of State Virtual Reading Room 0000B0FE.pdf]


This report from the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires to U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance details a November 7, 1979 meeting that the Regional Security Officer (RSO) had with members of Argentine Intelligence with respect to “recent attacks and infiltration by members of the Montoneros.” Argentine sources provided a list of Montonero members (and their aliases) who have returned to Argentina as part of the Montonero counteroffensive. Horacio Domingo Campiglio, alias “Petrus”, “is in charge of communication for both the TEI and TEA forces.” According to the document, TEA “stands for Special Agitation Troops,” and TEI means “Special Infantry Troops and these are the troops who are conducting the attacks on specific GOA personnel.” It is understood that both Campiglia and Pinus de Binstock were members of TEI. The document further states that the Argentine intelligence sources mentioned that “they have captured a member who was an instructor for the TEI group when they were being trained in Libya,” which directly refers to García Ferré, El Líbano, (see Document 5) who revealed information to the Argentine security forces that lead to the capture of both Campiglia and Binstock, as well as twelve other Montoneros, following their Panamá-Caracas-Rio flight.


Document 5: Subject: Conversation with Argentine Intelligence Source, April 7, 1980

[ArgentinaState Department Declassification Project0000ACEA.tif]


The following three-page memorandum addressed to Ambassador Castro illuminates the fate of these two disappeared Montoneros  – Pinus de Binstock and Campiglia – as well as the nature of their kidnappings. In the document, Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, James J. Blystone, outlines his April 2 meeting with a member of the Argentine intelligence services. Blystone began the meeting by asking “what had happened to the two Montoneros that disappeared between Mexico and Rio.” The source responded that the “information was top secret. The source stated that Force 601 had captured a Montonero (García Ferré) and during the interrogation learned that this Montonero “was to have a meeting with the two Montoneros from Mexico and the meeting was to take place in Rio de Janiero.” The two Montoneros mentioned by the source are “Horacio Campiglia (warname Peter) and Susana de Binstok.” The Montonero that had been captured provided the date and time for the meeting in Rio, and the “Argentine military intelligence (601) contacted Brazilian military intelligence counterparts for permission to conduct an operation in Rio to capture two Montoneros.” The section on Binstock and Campiglia concludes with: “These two Montoneros are presently being held at the army’s secret jail, Campo de Mayo.” This document is significant in that it provides proof that the testimony of instructor-Montonero, El Líbano, García Ferré, was the principal cause of the demise of Binstock and Campiglia. Furthermore, the document clearly demonstrates collusion between Argentine and Brazilian security forces in a joint effort to combat the leftist threat. The document ends by speaking about the disappearance and illegal detainment of another twelve recently captured Montoneros pertaining to the TEI at Campo de Mayo; these twelve arrests were also facilitated by the cooperation of the captured García Ferré.


Document 6: Subject: Human Rights Summary – March 22-26, 1980, March 28, 1980

[Argentina State Department Declassification Project 0000ACDC.tif]


This Department of State telegram from the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires to the Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, summarizes various disappearances In Argentina that occurred in the previous week.