the body of Joseph Louis Heads He appeared charred, handcuffed and with two bullets to the head inside a car in a road ditch in General Madariaga, on January 25, 1997. The previous summer, the photojournalist of Noticias magazine had obtained the most sought-after photograph: that of the mysterious and increasingly powerful businessman Alfredo Yabran walking along the beaches of Pinamar. His death shocked the entire country and became a symbol of the impunity of power, but it also became an alarm signal about the importance of preserving and protecting independent journalism. Twenty-five years after the fact that marked a before and after in the history of the media in Argentina, Netflix premieres The photographer and the postman: the crime of Cabezasa documentary film based on the case.
The documentary will premiere this Thursday 21 at the Buenos Aires Independent Film Festival (Bafici) and will then be available on the platform from May 19. This Monday, as a preview, the official trailer of the documentary was released that, through recognized voices of the time and current testimonies, tries to unravel a story full of mafia gestures and dangerous relationships within the spaces of power..
Among those interviewed are the colleagues of Cabezas in the magazine Noticias Gabriel Michi, Edi Zunino and Hugo Ropero; Judge Mariano Cazeaux; the lawyer Alejandro Vecchi; the former governor of the province of Buenos Aires Eduardo Duhalde; businessman Oscar Andreani; political analyst Raúl Aragón; the photojournalist Osvaldo Baratucci; photojournalists Cora Gamarnik, Julio Menajovsky and Eduardo Longoni; the lawyer and legal adviser of the Association of Graphic Reporters of the Argentine Republic ARGRA Miguel Gaya; the then commissioner inspector Jorge Gómez Pombo; Gustavo González, one of those convicted of the crime; Manuel Lazo, one of the three journalists who had access to Yabrán’s body, and journalists Lorena Maciel and Ricardo Ragendorfer, who covered the murder trial and trial.
The photographer and the postman, the crime of Cabezas is a Haddock Films production, with Vanessa Ragone as executive producer and Alejandro Hartmann directing, who have already worked together on the documentary series Carmel: Who killed María Marta? “The documentary is, on the one hand, a way of expressing our thoughts, but also a way of inviting viewers to think, discuss and remember”, explains Hartmann. “It was quite a challenge to carry out this story that is many years old and that in turn is extremely painful for all those who were protagonists. The case of José Luis Cabezas has many edges, the public and the private intersect. It was a very important moment in Argentine history that it is necessary to remember and make known to the world because it opens the eyes and invites us to reflect on issues that do not lose validity.”, he points out.
For her part, the producer Vanessa Ragone, who has a special bond with this story because her father was a photojournalist and her mother a journalist, comments: “Making a documentary film of this magnitude is the result of an exhaustive research process based on sources bibliographical, judicial, journalistic and, finally, contacting the people who experienced the event first-hand. It was a long and delicate process, with great respect for the facts.”
In addition, regarding the choice of history, he adds: “I consider that the documentary genre has the mandate to tell the stories necessary to preserve the collective memory. And we think this is a story that should not be forgotten. We feel that these events, so present in society, are always more powerful if they are told from the documentary and in the voice and image of those who lived through them.”.
Alfredo Yabrán boasted that no one, not even the United States intelligence services, had a photo of him. He had built his immense power from sheer mystery. He owned private mail companies, aviation companies, storage companies in the country’s main airports, agricultural firms and security agencies that had several ex-repressors of the last military dictatorship on their payrolls and his assets had grown exponentially during the government of Carlos Menen.
Nobody, beyond his inner circle and influence, knew his face. But the mystery ended when Cabezas and his partner, the journalist Gabriel Michi, found the businessman on the beach in Pinamar. The photojournalist took the photograph of Yabrán that was on the cover of Noticias magazine on March 3, 1996 and that over time would acquire an unexpected historical value.
As was established in the trial on the death of Cabezas, it was Yabrán who was behind his macabre murder, a year after being photographed. In December 1996, the businessman was clear with his head of security, Gregorio Ríos, and with Buenos Aires police officer Gustavo Prellezo: he wanted to spend a summer without journalists.
The mafia and macabre murder was only the beginning of a plot of power, madness, loyalties and betrayals that ended up putting the powerful businessman in check and forcing him to make the desperate decision to commit suicide.
Although there were nine convicted for the death of the photographer, 25 years after his murder, none are in prison.