Friday, March 24, 2006, is the 30th year anniversary of the military coup that resulted in seven years of terror and tortures, murders and unsolved disappearances. The regime held Argentinas's people in their grip from 1976 - 1983.
Nunca Mas (never again) were the cries heard at today's rally at the Plaza Mayo, in front of the Casa Rosada (the Pink House and also the seat of Argentina's government). The rally has drawn thousands as they come to remember the more than 30,000 people who disappeared (desparecidos) during the time now known as the "Dirty War". During that time, men, women, and children disappeared without a trace, many taken from their homes during the night in unmarked cars manned by the secret police. Their bodies have never been recovered.
The Plaza Mayo is also he location where the Abuelas de Plaza Mayo, or grandmothers of the disappeareds, have protested on a daily basis since 1977 to find out what happened to their children and grandchildren.
In 1983, after democracy was restored, a national commission was appointed to investigate what had happened to the desparecidos. The commission's report revealed systematic abductions, and the presence of approximately 340 secret detention centers where torture and murder occurred regularly. Former President Carlos Menem claimed the records detailing the atrocities had been lost or destroyed by the military after the Falklands War in 1982.
On the eve of the 30 year anniversary, President Nestor Kirchner declared that all military archives would be opened for public review. The hopes are that closure and peace will come to the families of those whose loved ones became one of the disappeareds.
As a future expat to Argentina, I wanted to have some basic understanding of what happened during this period. So I watched the movie Imagining Argentina about the playwright Carlos Rueda whose wife became one of the desparecidos. Of course, this is only one account of this period, but it did give me a better understanding of the atrocities that ccurred and the fear that people lived with on a daily basis. The movie was based on the book Imagining Argentina by Lawrence Thornton.
Many other books have been written about the desparecidos, Abuelas de Plaza Mayo, and the general history of the regime.