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Vanessa Lorena Ledesma
(? - 2000) Argentina

Vanessa Lorena Ledesma



Vanessa Lorena Ledesma, a transgender woman whose legal name is Miguel Angel Ledesma, an activist and member of the Asociación Travestis Unidas de Córdoba (ATUC), United Transvestites Association of Córdoba, Argentina, was arrested in the "Mikons bar" in the city of Córdoba during a fight and charged with damage to the bar premises. Arrested on 11 February 2000, five days later she was dead. A police report recorded that she had died as a result of a "cardiac arrest".

However, an autopsy reportedly revealed that her body showed signs of torture, including severe bruising. At the police station she had reportedly been held incommunicado and segregated from other detainees, not for her own protection but so that other prisoners would not have to share a cell with "a sick person" - an allusion to her HIV-positive status.

Following a demonstration in Buenos Aires by LGBT rights activists, the provincial authorities in Córdoba indicated that they would reopen investigations into Vanessa Lorena Ledesma's death.

More recently, Argentine LGBT activists campaigning for justice in the case of Vanessa Ledesma have also been targeted. Vanessa Piedrabuena, president of the United Córdoba Transvestites Association, and Ledesma's partner, signed the official complaint about Vanessa Ledesma's death.

She was subsequently threatened and harassed at her home by police, who reportedly told her: "Keep your head down... Mind your own business. No one is going to look out for you when something happens to you."

Following intense domestic and international pressure, a number of police officers were charged with the ill-treatment of Vanessa Ledesma. However, none was arrested or suspended and in mid-2000 proceedings against the police officers were halted.


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