Alicia Partnoy

Photography by: Margaret Randall
< 23>February 2009

Alicia Mabel Partnoy has lived a life devoted to social justice. She is a native of Bahia Blanca, Argentina where she was born on 7 February 1955. As a young woman, she studied at the Universidad Nacional del Sur in Bahia Blanca in the deparment of Humanities/Liberal Arts. She, along with the man who would become her husband in 1974, Carlos Samuel Sanabria, were activists in the Peronist Youth Movement (Juventud Universitaria Peronista). As a student activist, she was influential in organizing students and workers against the Argentinian dictatorship which established itself with the military coup d'etat of 1976 led by the Proceso de Reorganizacion Nacional and the military junta: Jorge Rafael Videla, Emilio Eduardo Massera and Orlando Ramon Agosti. General Jorge Rafael Videla became the de facto president of the nation and ruled from March 1976 to March 1980. It was during Videla's dictatorship that Partnoy was taken from her home. Her oldest daughter Ruth Irupe Sanabria, a toddler at the time, witnessed the brutality as her mother was detained by the military on 12 January 1977.

Her husband, who was taken from his job location, and she, were taken to military headquarters and then tranported to a concentration camp, "La Escuelita" / "The Little School." For three and half months, Partnoy remained in "The Little School" as one of the many "disappeared" people who had been taken by the military, under the auspices of the government. During her stay at the concentration camp, she was blindfolded, repeatedly tortured and, many times, molested.

After being released from the concentration camp, Partony came to the United States in 1979. Once in the states, she reunited with her daughhter and husband. She is currently an associate professor of Spanish in the Modern Languages and Literatures Department at Loyola Marymount University . As a professor and a prolific writer, she has denounced social injustice and is an advocate for human rights. She is closely associated with Amnesty International and has given her testimony at a number of universities, conferences and other venues. Her writings include La escuelita-Relatos testimonials, Volando bajito-Little Low Flying, Revenge of the Apple-Venganza de la manzana and You can’t drown the Fire: Latin American Women Writing in Exile.