Monday, 27 February 2012

The ones who were made to disappear

After some delicious days in Mendoza we took a 17 hour bus ride to Rosario. No disrespect to Rosario or her residents but the only reason we stopped there was so as not to be on a bus for 30 hours. That just sounds like being a hamster in a cage with no wheel. I'm glad we stopped there. It's a pretty city with a river where the first Argentinian flag was raised. But more importantly, here we visited the Museo de la Memoria, or the Museum of Memory.
     I won't pretend to know what I'm talking about so I will try to describe what I learned that afternoon.
     This museum holds an exhibition about the Dirty War; the tragic days between 1976 - 1983 when men and women, mothers and fathers, mothers-to-be, children, babies and babies not yet born into the world were "made to disappear". Hearing it is horrible, but seeing puzzles of photographs of people who make up communities, families, where blank spaces mark "the disappeared" person, where there is a red line across it stating "murdered", it is made to be quite real. Or as real as it can be when you are an observer of photos on a wall.

Neither words, nor I, can describe what "the disappeared" must have gone through, or their loved ones (many of whom were made to "disappear" soon afterwards. Pregnant women were made to "disappear" and were kept prisoners in some kind of torture centre, then later killed. Or they were kept until they gave birth, were then murdered, and their new-born babies were given to military families. Some of these babies have been found, by their grandparents, perhaps, and have taken back their original name. Others can't face the reality that they were stolen, or that their parents were complicit, so opt to live on as if nothing ever happened. This way their "adoptive" parents don't go to jail.

What was the torture centre during the period of the Dirty War is now a government building and when you stand outside and look at it, you realise how recent this mass killing was by the graffitti on the road that says "Justice. Not one child less".

It is estimated that 30,000 people were made to "disappear".