Visiting D2 and La Perla in Córdoba were solemn, humbling experiences that left me speechless and overwhelmed with emotions, as can be expected when visiting any historic memory sites with such gruesome and horrifying pasts.
At D2, there is a room filled with black and white photographs of desaparecidos; one specifically caught my attention as there is a handwritten note stuck to it, left by a grandchild remembering and honoring their grandparent. At La Perla there is also a room filled with the same kind of black and white photographs, which are accompanied by messages left from family members and friends saying things like “We will never forget you,” and “You live on forever in our hearts.” Looking at one after another after another after another was almost too much for me to handle. Names and photographs are impactful alone, but the messages left by loved ones take them to an even more personal level. The families of desaparecidos were victims too, who continue to suffer the ineffable pain of loss and grief.
I think about my own grandfather, my father, my aunt and uncle– whose graves I can visit and whose bodies were laid to rest in peaceful, happy places important to my family.
For the thousands and thousands of families directly affected by the state terror here in Argentina, there are no marked graves to visit. Bodies were not laid to rest peacefully. In order to pay respects, in order to leave a personal note, families must go to the sites where horrendous human rights violations took place; they have to enter the very place where their loved ones were tortured and killed. This is of course the case for many who have lost family members and friends due to war, terrorism, and human rights violations; they are afforded neither the privilege of burying a loved one in a marked grave nor the privilege of knowing how, when, and where they died.
“Together let’s transform this place of horror and death into a space of life, fight, and memory.”