History repeats

As we protest we sung, “Como a los Nazis, le va pasar A donde vas ya nos iremos a buscar!” ” Translation “As the Nazis, it will happen Where are you going to go and look for us!”

Systemic governmental control and genocide targeted towards “threatening or inferior” segments of the population are aspects present in both the Nazi Holocaust and the Dirty War. Having knowledge of these events outcomes, their influences, and relationship to other World human rights violations and humanitarian crimes is empowering. It has been proven that history does replay itself or at least influence the future.

“Among us there are mothers who escaped from the Nazi Holocaust, only to lose their Argentinian-born children to another dictatorship – so we know for a fact that these tragedies can repeat themselves,” Gastelú says.

“The Argentine military took lessons from the Nazis,” says Sara Rus, a 90-year-old Auschwitz survivor who settled in Argentina after the second world war – and whose son, Daniel, was killed by the military in 1977

Police headband with inscribed Nazi symbol.

Education of the Dirty War in school systems and throughout the community is happening within Argentina; previously used clandestine detention sites are now open to the community to foster recovery, protection, proactive effects. Of equal importance, the perpetrators need to be held accountable. While there have been trials and convictions within Argentina, this is due to 40 years of determined citizens protesting and demanding legal action along with answers. With every advance comes covert attempts to erase what happened and still no confessions. Sentencing and convicting the guilty parties is especially difficult due to the multifaceted involvement. Individuals are guilty of committing humanitarian crimes, but why not a government, the military, or the entire state? We could, with justification, say that business entities, municipal governments, nonprofit agencies, and the federal government are all culpable. So are individual citizens (Rivera & P ́aez, 2007) .

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The violation of human rights of any kind is a criminal act or practice. Individuals, communities, groups, business entities, and states are responsible for upholding the dignity, security, and freedoms of all humans, and for advancing the well-being of all peoples, especially the most vulnerable (Rivera & P ́aez, 2007) .

Human rights law violations are actions and omissions that interfere with the birth-right of all human beings—their fundamental freedoms, entitlements and human dignity (Rivera & P ́aez, 2007) .

Humanitarian crimes are, in essence, crimes that are so heinous that they shock the human conscience (Rivera & P ́aez, 2007) .

Rivera, J., & P ́aez, D. (2007). Emotional Climate, Human Security, and Cultures of Peace. Human Rights Documents online, 63. doi:10.1163/2210-7975_hrd-9962-3006

Fallen From Faith?

We visited and saw quite a few churches during our time Argentina, each one, no matter how old, was incredibly beautiful. Which made the news about the overall opinion and attitude towards the church a little confusing at first. But after learning more about the history and the relation between the church and the dictatorship it is easy to understand the people’s distrust of the church. Situations like D2, where is was directly adjacent to the church, and that everybody knew in some manner what was going on behind closed doors and yet the church did not criticize the government outright. Now what I thought had happened was that people who disagreed and distrusted the Church gave up their faith, but while I was reading The Rabbit House there was a part that clarified it for me, “The lady says that God isn’t only to be found in the churches. In fact, you could be forgiven for wondering if He can still be found there at all… you just have to make Him [God] a sign and to believe in Him (30).” Instead of people losing faith in the religion, they lost faith in the church.

La Perla

Visiting La Perla was particularly difficult for me. Just as I had shared in our group discussion, I have always held my name to a high degree. I don’t run into many Luis’ back home in the States, especially growing up. I grew up in an area where people would rather not take the time to learn how to pronounce my name properly or go so far as to change it. Outside of the household, my name is the closest representation of my culture and I do my best to represent it well. When we were at La Perla, I fixated on all of the Desaparecidos who went through La Perla with the name Luis. They stuck out at me, I couldn’t help but take pictures of all 16 of them. I wanted to memorize their faces, I wanted to remember them. I could have just been like any of them, another Luis among the Luis’. It’s hard to explain, but I felt connected to each of the victims personally.

“Sh!”

 I ran across this in the street on the way to group dinner one night and I’m not sure who did it or what it meant to them. To me, it symbolized the opposition to all of the secrecy. The hidden detention centers, the secret disposal of the bodies, the silence of the missing, etc. So many people were silent out of fear of losing their lives or the lives of their loved ones. Silence did nothing but aid the dictators in getting what they wanted. I really liked how they used bright colors in the graffiti and made it big enough to stand out.

 

 

Jazz

Inconceivable

After reading “Dossier Secreto,” I felt more disturbed than I had at any of the centers. When visiting the sites, what often came to mind was how they determined who survived. I think so highly of every victim who did and those who didn’t because of what they went through and what lengths some of them would go to to protect their family and friends. Any form of torture is inhumane, and I’ll never understand what could bring a person so low to inflict so much pain on another and go home to their own families. None of the tours in Argentina compared to the detailed descriptions in this article. The 14-year-old boy with the heart tattoo, the 20-day-old baby, and the boy with cotton molded to his eyes, it’s unimaginable. I have so many questions and it bothers me so much that they tried in so many ways to strip them of their identities and secretly dispose of them; I can’t fathom the final thoughts of the victims. I just pray that their souls are at peace. I know everyone isn’t religious, but I imagine they’re all in a better place and hope they’re never forgotten. No one deserves to leave the world in such a cruel way. The picture I used was from a center in Cordoba, it was decorated almost like a nursery and i’ll never forget walking in and thinking about the mothers who lost their babies and the babies who lost such strong mothers.

Jazz

Auschwitz

I think that the Spanish fiction excerpt that was available to us about Auschwitz was a really interesting link to ESMA, even within the first couple lines of the piece. It talks about hating the place and the talk of babies, which I immediately linked to the maternity section of ESMA that we visited. It was almost completely inconceivable that a child could be brought to life in a situation like that and have its mother thrown away like a piece of garbage, much like in Auschwitz, where everyone was viewed as such even the babies that were born there.

Resilience

The photo I used is one of my favorite quotes from Cordoba. There were sayings everywhere, this one read“silence is complicity.” I agree 100% with this saying because my dad always got on to me saying, “if you don’t speak out about what you believe in then you’ll never be heard.” Although the government insists they do the opposite, many of the people in Argentina, regardless of how many years have gone by, make continuous efforts in bringing justice to the disappeared and their families. In the article, “A Quiet Revolution,” Holzman addresses the steady revolution against a once extremely corrupt government. He points out that the revolution has been of assistance in ways such as revealing helpful evidence and “scientific breakthroughs (2)”. A lot of people here, in North America, aren’t as resistant and most things in the past are just that, in the past. It’s admirable that the citizens are so concerned about human rights and obtaining justice that they stick so close together and despite the emotional and mental impact it may have had on the country, they’ll never let the years of oppression be a thing of the past.

Photos

I was personally touched reading the article, “Photos as Mourning.” Having experienced a recent loss in the family, I can fully agree that it’s so weird looking at photos and that’s all there is. The memories start to fade, but the pictures are known to be forever. It’s both a blessing and a burden. I took these two pictures because when I saw Maria’s picture I thought she was so young and pretty, her smile seemed so genuine yet I had no idea who she was. Staring at it, I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to harm her or how hard this was for her family to lose someone they loved. Death is such a hard thing to come to terms with, almost impossible. I think it’s amazing how universal it is for people to display pictures and publicly address the loss of others in their community. I loved seeing pictures of everyone in the streets of Argentina, because I strongly agree with the writer when she says, “it symbolizes the relationship the individual had with the lost object, and permits her/him to imagine a continued connection, even in the face of absence” (1249).  At the same time, it keeps hope alive for the families still looking for closure. I think it’s incredibly unfair that the people of Argentina are forced to determine whether or not to accept the death of the disappeared and the photos are a great way to aid them in mourning and stand as a public opposition towards the government and their relentless acts of covering the past.

Two Protests, Different Motives

On May 24th, a few of us witnessed two separate protests a few blocks from each other. The first one was by union workers wearing green, setting off fireworks and waving banners. The second one (the focus of this post) that we saw was all older Argentines, was slightly smaller, and the colors mostly seen were blue and white. They called themselves “JUBILADOS en Marcha” which means Retirees marching, and they were marching against the cuts to ANSES, medicine, and retirement benefits, and for an increased pension. I asked one of the organizers as to what ANSES is and she explained that it’s the Administración Nacional de la Seguridad Social (Natl Social Security Administration). Recently, it is alleged that President Macri allegedly voided the ANSES Guarantee Fund, and the courts denounced him for it. Now, the retired citizens of Argentina have come out the day before the National Revolution Day to protest their form of human rights. We saw a sign that said “We may be retired, but we’re still entitled to the same rights as everyone”. I couldn’t agree more.

One thing many of my classmates and I have agreed on is how serious and effective the protests in Argentina are compared to the United States. Before the program started, I was in Buenos Aires for a few days with another classmate, and we walked right into a marijuana protest. The police were all standing to the side and chatting with each other, and no one was wearing any riot gear or had guns like the police in US have whenever there is a protest.

NK

Pocho in Argentina

Pocho requested that I post a blog on his behalf, he greatly enjoyed the trip to Argentina this year! He loved the Mate and the cuisine; his favorite moment of the trip was visiting El Rosal when he cooked and rode a horse all by himself. Above are just a few pictures to commemorate his time during the trip!