06/02/2020 - 7:00
No one knows what can happen to him when he wakes up, any day.
One day he went to sleep with a daughter, a son-in-law and three grandchildren. The next morning, she only had one grandson, a teenager who was the only survivor of the murders . He took care of everything. Of the pain for the dead in a single night, of the boy's upbringing, of an eternal pilgrimage in Justice so that the murderer was imprisoned and what the sentence said remained there. Life. "And it is perpetual forever," she said, like that character in The Secret in Her Eyes, the Campanella movie.
Norma Calzaretta - the Abu , for her family, friends and even the judicial officials who treated her - died this Monday, June 1, in a nursing home, calm after having conversed by video call with the only relative she had left: her grandson Matías Bagnato, that fearful teenager shocked by the tragedy that is today a benchmark in the struggle of victims in criminal cases. I was waiting, again, because again a judge is analyzing these days a new request from the killer to be released on probation.
Abu was 91 years old, 26 years older than when her family was killed. That multiple and ferocious crime - which went down in history as the Flores massacre - and the only surviving grandson were the reason for his life.
La Abu and Matías Bagnato, her grandson, behind the portraits of their relatives killed in the fire.
Until shortly before his 90th birthday, his life was spent in a 6 by 3 living room in an Almagro apartment, with a window to the apple lung. The Abu was there all day. From morning to night. He dressed for that. Impeccable. As if I was going out. But it didn't come out. He just sat at the table in front of the television. Sometimes he would look at the sky that was approaching the window to see if it was sunny or cloudy. Or if it was going to rain. There I waited all day for Tinelli's program or a soccer game. Any, but better if it was from San Lorenzo. Unless he played with Independiente. San Lorenzo-Independiente was the party that brought back all the ghosts. It was the game that was played that night. The last night. The night that fear entered and never left again.
On the night of February 16, 1994, Abu did not sleep in his bed at the family home in Flores, where he had gone to live with his daughter Alicia, his son-in-law José and his grandchildren Matías (16), Fernando (14) and Alejandro (7). She slept in the bus that took her to Mar del Plata, where she had been invited to celebrate a friend's birthday. On the morning of the 17th, when she arrived, she telephoned her sister to see if everything was okay. She was inexplicably uneasy . They did not answer him. He thought how strange, and called his daughter. They did not answer him. He then called the factory, the family business. And they didn't answer him.
This she told herself in an interview with Clarín four years ago.
"I was no longer myself. I was out of control. I knew something bad had happened. I knew it. So I called my niece's house and my sister was there. And she says, Mirá Norma, there is a problem ... he told them He set fire to the house . I tell him Nelly tell me the truth, please, how are you all. El Negro tells me - that's what we said to my son-in-law - he died. The others are fine . "
The Bagnatos, in a family photo.
Norma learned a few hours later that, along with El Negro, her daughter Alicia, her grandchildren Fernando and Alejandro and a friend of the younger boy, Nicolás Borda (8), had died in the fire , that the family invited them to sleep because there was a free bed. that night. His, Abu's bed. Her sister found a way to tell her the impossible in the midst of the daze: "Norma ... listen to me please ... Matías is alive . " It was the only one left.
Abu never needed clarification on who "he" was , the one who set the house on fire. "It was the monster," he said. "I've been calling him The Monster for 22 years, you know? I can't name his name."
The monster is called Fructuoso Alvarez González. He is Spanish and was married to Diana, the daughter of Norma's first cousin. It was a part of the family that they only saw each other at Christmas, New Year and the odd birthday. Until José Bagnato's shoe factory got into financial trouble and Alvarez González joined as a partner by word of mouth. There the crossings began to be more frequent.
Some time passed and Alvarez González began to claim money, but there was no agreement on the figure. Fructuoso asked for $ 300,000 and El Negro said he owed him much less. Norma, who owned the building where the factory operated and worked carrying the numbers of another company, asked for all the papers and verified. What they owed Alvarez González was "at most, $ 90,000, three times less than what he claimed." The creditor began calling the family and giving a strange warning: "They are going to die burned," he told them over the phone.
Fructuoso Alvarez González, the murderer arrested after the massacre.
Before that, he summoned Norma to "fix our problem" and, when his grandmother told him that his son-in-law was not going to pay him the amount he claimed because he had never loaned him that amount, he exploded. "He dragged me by the hair around the house and threw me on a table where there was a line of white powder . " Norma was saved that night because her family went looking for her and Alvarez González ran away through the roofs.
"We went to make the complaint and one of the policemen told another. You know who they are denouncing, right? He is the owner of Cassandra. That was the name of a cabaret that he had. And then the bye policemen did no more nothing...".
From that day on, every day was hell. The phone at the house on Baldomero Fernández Moreno street was ringing and the Bagnatos were terrified to answer. The threat of going to die all burned was received by anyone, even the youngest boy in the house. But almost nobody believed that Alvarez González was going to fulfill his promise. "I was afraid that he would do something to my dad, I thought he was capable of that, but I never imagined that the house would come to set us on fire," says Matías. The only one who insisted every night that the guy was capable of that was Norma. "I saw him drugged, not you," he said to his daughter and son-in-law.
Until the night came when San Lorenzo and Independiente played in Mar del Plata for the Summer Cup. The whole family watched the game and then each went to bed. Matías went to his room to listen to music and fell asleep. Woke up at 3 in the morning. It was hot and there was a bright glow under her bedroom door.
"I was lacking oxygen. The sensation is as if they were squashing your throat with a plank. I look out the window to breathe and a neighbor from the street yells at me jump that the house was set on fire . I did not understand anything, as I saw light under my door I went to open thinking that my dad or mom had gotten up. As soon as I opened a flare came that reached the ceiling of my room. It burned my hair, face and arm. And then I ran to the balcony and jumped to a neighbor's house. And there I was caught. I felt the fire on my back and I was preparing to die, until a policeman was guiding me and I managed to go up to the next terrace and from there they took me out ... And no I remember more ... I have flashes ... Firefighters coming in and a policeman telling me to stay calm because there was no one in the house. And I knew it was a lie. That everyone was there. And I passed out ... "
The burned down house on Baldomero Fernández Moreno street in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Flores.
Abu listened to his grandson's account. Her lips trembled. He was rubbing his hands before speaking: "And could it be that we currently have to continue with this fear? To continue fighting so that it doesn't come out and kill us? Could it be possible? Because he came back to kill us. What he did It is not finished until he kills Matías and me. He has to finish ... and to finish he still has to kill us ... ".
Fructuoso Alvarez González was detained four days after the fire. He was prosecuted, tried, and sentenced to life in prison. When he had been in prison for 13 years, he asked to be deported to Spain, the country where he had been born. Justice granted him and in Spain he obtained a commutation of sentence that released him in 2008.
Matías Bagnato answered the phone one day, and the voice appeared again. That voice. "Prepare yourself, because you are dead like the others," he said then. Matías went to Judge Axel López's Criminal Execution Court and was told that they could not give him information. Then, that Alvarez González was imprisoned in Spain. Finally they admitted that he was free and had returned to the country. And that Migrations had let him in because the court never answered the letter in which they asked him what to do. "I morphed it because I had a lot of work, " Judge López told Matías.
There they issued an arrest warrant, and hell returned. Matías and his grandmother remained in permanent police custody while Álvarez González called them two, three times a week, to tell them that he had returned to kill them both. They could not leave their house. They couldn't live. The fugitive fell again in December 2011 and a new count was made. Now he would have to be imprisoned until beyond 2020, but in 2016 he began to request the temporary exits. Matías looked for signatures so that Alvarez González did not come out and collected 188,000. Justice replied that it would not come out. Now, from the Ezeiza prison, he began to insist again, when he learned that there could be more accessible home prisons due to the coronavirus.
Matías Bagnato, the grandson who continues the family fight so that the murderer is not free.Photo: Laura Cano / Télam / AA
Matías followed Abu's fight and was one of the promoters of the law so that victims can be represented in the processes of Criminal Execution, before the judges who decide when and why the prisoners are released. That the victims could have an opinion in that instance was a long struggle of the Usina de Justicia group chaired by the philosopher Diana Cohen Agrest, mother herself of a victim of insecurity.
Abu had been imprisoned early that Thursday morning when he learned that the worst horror was possible. That day she was sentenced to perpetual fear. So when he gave the only interview of his life, he took the chronicler's hands in his and whispered, as if it were a deep secret: "Fear is in me." Her hands were cold.
The nurses who assisted her on Monday, at her end, said she fell asleep mumbling names.
"Ali and Fer said , " Matías was told.
Alicia and Fernando were her daughter and the middle grandson who left that time, the day perpetual fear arrived.