When shared dreams are built on nightmares
The infamous Schoklender cases and how everyone gets a second chance in Argentina
Welcome Avatar! Today we will be going over the infamous Schoklender case from start to finish, and how a parricide in the 1980s ended up becoming a self-taught lawyer in jail, to start a corruption case of epic proportions once released, all under the veil of human rights and social housing. This story still has an open ending, with the corruption case not closed after 12 years of ongoing investigations.
The initial Schoklender case in the 80’s
On May 30, 1981, in an apartment in Belgrano, engineer Mauricio Schoklender and his wife Cristina Silva were brutally assassinated. Their sons Sergio and Pablo were convicted for the double homicide.
The Justice system which sentenced the brothers to life in prison, determined that on that fatal night in 1981, Sergio celebrated his 23rd birthday with his parents and his sister in a restaurant on the Costanera.
His younger brother Pablo (20) was not there because he had distanced himself from his parents. While the celebration was taking place, Pablo entered the house and waited hidden in the closet of his brother's room.
When his parents arrived and went to bed, he talked to Sergio in the living room until his mother appeared at one point. They used a 12 inch iron bar to hit her on the head. After she passed out, they hung her. Then they did the same with his father, who was sleeping in his bedroom.
Brothers Sergio and Pablo have a pact of silence that covers much more than the day that they beat their parents to death with a steel bar in the apartment where the family lived, in the apartment on the fourth floor on 3 de Febrero 1480 in Belgrano.
In the 42 years that have passed since then, the brothers never wanted to talk about what happened the night of the crimes. In all of their interviews, Sergio and Pablo always avoided the subject or kept quiet.
The double crime was discovered the next morning by some children who were playing on Coronel Díaz, between Pacheco de Melo and Peña, in front of Las Heras Park, when they noticed a trickle of blood coming out out of the trunk of a dark metallic Dodge Polara.
Shortly after the kids called the cops the place was fenced off to prevent access by journalists and photographers.
In the trunk they found the bodies of Mauricio Schoklender and his wife Cristina Silva. They were wrapped in sheets and their heads covered with towels and garbage bags.
After a call to the family home, one of the brothers attended and confirmed that they would be presenting themselves at the police station, which they never did (they instead fled to Mar del Plata). Shortly after they were pointed out as the main suspects.
Their younger sister Valeria was questioned by the Police and was excluded as a suspect. She later changed her last name to live a life in anonymity and has never seen her brothers again.
The Schoklenders getaway seemed like an open-ended western. They drove around the city in the other family car, and at dawn decided to rent a taxi to Mar del Plata. There they went to the Gran Hotel Dora, and under a false identity (Pablo Fogel) they rented a double room.
As the days passed the faces of Sergio and Pablo were in all the newspapers and magazines in the country.
While the brothers were on the run, newspapers and magazines called them “shadow jackals”, “sinister patricides” or “soulless hyenas” capable of killing their own parents.
The next day, Sergio tried to rent a twin-engine plane. After the owner told him that they had to go through Customs he ruled out fleeing by plane. It was also too obvious to be on the run together: their faces and identities were all over the media.
Sergio left to the town of Cobo, some 20 miles from Mar del Plata, where he ended up drinking too much in a bar, talking about his parents' crimes. The bar owner and his employee beat him, gagged him and tied him up.
He ended up locked up in a shed and they took turns taking care of him while one of them went to Ruta 2 to see if a patrol car was passing by. They got careless and Sergio managed to escape. Eventually the police caught up with him on the same highway.
His brother was arrested two days later in Tucumán. Pablo had also bought a horse to flee and thought of going to Bolivia (again we have that strong calling amongst criminals to flee to Bolivia, like we saw in the Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid case).
Good for Pablo that he never made it to Bolivia that time, because criminals usually tend to meet their fate once they’re in Plurinational Bolivian territory. However, Pablo would make another move to Bolivia, more about that later.
Motives - WTF was wrong with these Schoklenders?
There was some controversy around the motives for the killings, and also whether or not the brothers actually committed the crimes (although it seems pretty clear that they did it from later evidence presented during the hearings).
Remember that Argentina was under a military dictatorship in 1981, which would start the Falklands War in the year after that.
Father Mauricio Schoklender was a manager of the German firm Pittsburgh, designated as the intermediary of the German company Thyssem-Hanschel in the sale of a nuclear submarine and ten planes to Augusto Pinochet, Chile’s dictator.
At that time, the Beagle Conflict between Argentina and Chile was intensifying, which almost led to a hot war.
What's more, Schoklender would also have been the connection between the German firm, and one of the leading military members of the last Argentine military dictatorship: Emilio Massera. Apparently Massera had ordered five missile frigates from Thyssem.
The Schoklenders were a wealthy middle-class family. They had lived in Tandil, where they were married on July 7, 1955. Their children were born there, until they decided to settle in Buenos Aires because Mauricio had received an offer from Pittsburgh.
One of the suspicions is that Cristina Silva de Schoklender had incestuous relationships with Pablo and her alcoholism affected the entire family (Pablo wrote about this in his book “Yo, Pablo Schoklender”). This would have been the main motive for the brothers to put an end to that situation by murdering their parents.
In 1985, 2 years into a fresh democracy in Argentina, Sergio was sentenced to life. Pablo was acquitted, since his brother had taken responsibility for the murders.
A year later, the justice system revoked that ruling to also dictate life imprisonment for Pablo. The problem was that Pablo had already fled the country, yup, you guessed it: to Bolivia. He was able to stay off the radar for a couple of years.
Finally on May 14, 1994, the Bolivian police arrested the Argentine citizen Jorge Velásquez, for fraudulently writing checks.
After they sent his fingerprints to Interpol, they learned that Velásquez was actually Pablo Schoklender, who had entered Bolivia with a false passport under the name of Walter Sandoval, afterwards settling in Santa Cruz de la Sierra under the alias of Velásquez.
He was handed over to the Argentine police, who took him back to Buenos Aires.
Jailtime & Regained Freedom
After 14 years in prison, Sergio was paroled on November 28, 1995, after serving two thirds of his sentence. After also completing two thirds, Pablo began to obtain job opportunities in May 2001.
Sergio promoted university education in prisons, and thanks to this, he himself managed to become a lawyer while still in prison.
Until May 2011, he worked as a lawyer and representative of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo Foundation. This is where the final leg of this story starts.
“Sueños Compartidos” - a house of broken dreams
In 2011, Sergio Schoklender was accused of illicit enrichment for alleged money laundering and defrauding the State due to the diversion of public funds delivered to the Madres de Plaza de Mayo Foundation through the construction of a social housing project called Suenos Compartidos (Shared Dreams).
When Sergio was released from prison in 1995, he began working for Madres and lived for a time in the house de Bonafini, who cherished him like a son and characterized him as one of the most wonderful people, for his hard work for the organization, including designing the Sueños Compartidos project to build houses for impoverished citizens.
However, Schoklender's professed altruism was just a front for the fabulous home-building business he set up, which turned out to be quite the lucrative laundromat. Sergio’s company Meldorek was formally hired by Sueños Compartidos, while Schoklender was attorney of the Foundation.
Hebe de Bonafini most likely knew about the financial mismanagement carried out by the representatives of the Foundation, approving the irregular balance sheets of the institution and improperly authorizing the outsourcing to the Meldorek company of the services that had been contracted directly to the Foundation.
Until now, the Justice system has been able to prove that the “Shared Dreams” Program meant a diversion of more than $200 million pesos of the $750 million destined for the housing plan of the Foundation. In total, $206,438,454 were diverted, or 23.54% of the funds transferred.
Autist note: Remember that in 2011, the peso/US token rate was still a lot more favorable: around $4.40 per USD. So that means parricide Sergio was able to cash out close to $50 million USD with his setup. In that same year he was also denounced by the President of the Central Bank, for buying almost two million dollars to transfer abroad in 2008 and 2009 when that was prohibited.
The Sueños Compartidos case has been practically paralyzed since it was initially brought to trial in 2011. Nothing changed after the death of Hebe de Bonafini in 2022, 11 years later.
In March 2023, the Prosecutor's Office demanded that a “deadline” be set for new evidence, which would allow the trial to start.
As of today, no deadline has been set and the trial is still pending.
It is amazing to think it takes 12 years (and counting) for the Argentine justice system to do something with this $50+ million US token corruption case.
You can now understand why Argentina is the Wild West. Even when people get convicted, it is usually just a slap on the wrist, as you could clearly see in the case of the Schoklender brothers: both did minimal time.
This is not to justify any of their actions, but in a both positive and sinister sense, Argentina really is the land of opportunity.
It can work for people like Schoklender in a sinister sense, but also in a positive way for Sovereign Individuals who just want to go about their own lives with minimal State interference.
Most countries will not even allow you to exercise law after a committing a felony. Here, people always get a second chance, even people like the Schoklenders.
Where else could you become a lawyer while serving a homicide sentence, only to come out and scam the state for millions afterwards?
See you in the Jungle, anon!
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Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo is an Argentine association formed in 1977 during the dictatorship of Jorge Rafael Videla, with the aim of recovering the disappeared detainees alive, initially, and then establishing who were responsible for the crimes against humanity and promote their prosecution. Most of the initial members were mothers whose sons and daughters were “disappeared” by the military junta, hence the name.