La Perla was tough to visit. However, I am thankful for the experience. Going on this trip gave me an idea of atrocities that Argentine’s faced in the late 70s. This is a subject that is not taught in American History. Honestly, this study abroad was the first time it was introduced to me.
Argentina has a long way to reconciliation. However, I believe a good first step is acknowledging the trauma. This picture is clay like art pieces little children made to symbolize what human rights means to them. I think this simple activity is beneficial for future generations because they get to think about history -their history. Even my case, world history.
The Argentine government has a deplorable habit of covering their past which I am thankful other civilians fight against. Human rights violations happened and they are still happening. It is a monumental disservice to victims and survivors when the topic is “swept under the rug”. Although, Argentina is stagnant about their next path is is crucial to inform the younger generation.
There are various routes we can go from here but it all begins with a conversation.
The door above me is black. That is a salient observation but the real question is why is it black? This is one of many doors at La Perla. Catholic leaders were involved or even approved of the dictatorship. In the article, A Quiet Revolution, Holzman stated “…Argentine leadership of the Catholic Church praised and aided the regime…Bishops and military chaplains visited the secret death camps, urged prisoners to confess, [and] blessed the death flight” (2012).
I asked Fernando if Catholicism has declined in Argentina since the dictatorship and he said no. The artist behind the door would probably have different view of Catholicisms but Fernando has statistics on his side. Today, Roman Catholic is the number one religion in Argentina based on a 2008 CONICET survey.
We came to a destination known as Lago San Roque. This pink statue above me was a little house the military used as a detention center during the dirty war. It is now a museum but I thought it was interesting a little chilling how prevalent the detention centers were during the Dirty War.
The Jesuit founded sometime in the 15th century are a crucial part of Argentina’s history. The order is credited with creating Argentina’s first university in Cordoba and bringing Catholicism to Argentina.
One aspect of Jesuit history is unfavorably overlooked. The Jesuits housed an outrageous number of slaves in the yard above. According to the tour guide, the slaves to Jesuit ratio was 100:1 and there were 2 Jesuits in the building above. It is salient this means that 200 slaves were kept in the compound doing odd jobs like cleaning chamber pots and the restrooms. Slaves were also tasked with cooking and making iron tools in a smaller building behind this one. People of African-American decent had the worst jobs because it was thought they didn’t bare a soul. During those times, dark skin was associated with no soul. I am thankful and disgusted for knowing the real history of the Jesuits.
This lovely picture is two survivors from La Perla, An isolated detention center during the dictatorship in Cordoba, Argentina. It became a museum after the junta’s were removed from power. The dictatorship resulted in thousands of disappeared people (victims) and a small population of survivors. La Perla has a hefty prisoner count of about 2,200 and only about 17 survivors. Among those seventeen people, we had a chance to speak to two. Prisoners of La Perla endured unfathomable human rights violations they are still suffering from today. An article claimed “victims… have severe and debilitating psychological problems as a result of human rights abuses…Common responses to these traumas include PTSD, depression, and suicidal behaviors” (McLoughlin, 2008).
The first picture is a man named Hector Kohen. He has not visited La Perla for the more than 30 years. Hector walked around the camp with a film crew documenting his experience. Ironically, when asked how he coped with living in a man-made purgatory he stated it wasn’t a priority. His response was similar to an out of site, out of mind thought. It was different but not unreal.
The next survivor was also taken to La Perla when she was about 22 years old. She was taken with her family minus her brother. I thought it was interesting how aggressively the Argentine government searched for selected prisoners. Anyway, she was tortured and manipulated (slightly more aggressively due to her Jewish heritage) in La Perla. When I asked how she coped with the trauma after the experience she stated she left Argentina for a while and shares her story with others to help. Disclaimer: this is an offguard with Fernando because he is a survivor as well.
Above is a picture of the a surviving mother from Plaza de Mayo. This organization featured a group of courageous women that protested against the dictatorship -in public. Decades after the dictatorship, the mothers march on for the injustices brought down to their children. In the book, Children of Cain, Rosenberg explains the mothers ” …are determined to walk in the plaza every Thursday until their children appear once again” (79).
As a cryptic side note, Rosenberg stated the mothers would march forever (79). Nonetheless, this mother had civilian support as she walked around Plaza De Mayo and chanted names of other disappeared people. My favorite part of the gathering was towards the end. The mother allowed others to speak of how they have endured a human rights violation. I respect this gathering because she gave others a platform.
The protest was a little peculiar. There were two groups of mothers, one with a more practical view that wanted to use the march to remember the past while listening to the future problems. The other group had more radical views and demanded more from the government. The radical group had better funding with multiple speakers and merchandise.
I had such an awesome time with you all. Thank you for making this experience as fantastic as it was. I really appreciate all the energy you all brought to the table. We were a supportive group of individuals that helped each other have more dynamic perspectives about the world. That is absolutely amazing and I didn’t realize how much growth could occur in under 3 weeks. See you all soon, keep in contact. Also, a big shout out to Gabe and Fernando for being the best professors we could have on this trip. Thank you for the balance of fun and education. I really appreciate this experience.
This trip was very fulfilling! I got to see how another country differed from my own. Specifically, I got to learn how different Argentina was from the United States. A notable difference was the diversity in Argentina compared to the States. America upheld the title “melting pot” because the nation is filled with multiple ethnic groups whereas Argentina had a salient caucasian majority. I enjoyed comparing Argentine history to America’s -in terms of human rights. Each country took a different routes to rectify the human rights dilemma. Personally, I do not think any of the countries had ideal solutions but both were progressive.