24 March 2007

Remembering the coup: 31 years

Today is the 31st anniversary of the coup d'état that brought to power the bloodiest dictatorship Argentina has lived in its history. It lasted from 1976 to 1983, four military juntas succeeding each other, taking advantage of the fear, the conformism, and the shallow patriotism of many Argentinians.

I don't remember much about those times. I was born 6 months after the coup. My early childhood was spent under the repressive rule of these monsters, but I was too little to understand anything. This was not a topic you spoke about during the family dinner. Even after it formally ended, it was not taught in schools, and it was not critically analyzed in the news. In 1990, Carlos Menem pardoned the leaders of the juntas, as if all wounds were healed, for the benefit of "national reconciliation". Yet once the "forgive and forget" camp had to face the atrocities unearthed by deeper and deeper investigation, change began. In 2002, Congress declared March 24 a date of commemoration for the victims of the dictatorship. In 2005, the laws protecting the military from being judged were overturned — "I was following orders" was no longer an excuse. In 2006, March 24 was declared a national public holiday.

The picture that begins this article is just one of the many official acknowledgements of the brutal repression of the juntas. The poster's central title reads Oíd el ruido de las cadenas, "Hear the sound of the chains", based on the third verse of the Argentine national anthem, Oíd el ruido de rotas cadenas ("Hear the sound of broken chains"). On the left, in smaller print, there's the list of the dictatorship's crimes: "they kidnapped, tortured, raped, murdered, stole babies, humiliated mothers and grandmothers, mortgaged the country, took us to war".


  1. Anonymous12:27

    Link permanente: http://www.lanacion.com.ar/894391

    May be we should all carry a copy of the Constitution with us at all times. If we read it more often, we could only be much smarter.

    To our Constitution!

  2. Yeah, well, it's easy to see where you're coming from... This comment has nothing to do with the anniversary of the coup; it's a criticism of Kirchner's constant verbal meddling with the other branches of the State. A bad thing in a republic. Yet it seems to be the only way to make justice work. Again, that's a terrible thing, but it's all we have for now.

    Never let perfect stand in the way of very good.

  3. I’ve always been curious as to how Argentines remembered life under the dictatorship. I’ve had several conversations with close friends whom I trust to have no reservations in telling me what they think.

    People younger that you seems to know little from either their parents or from their education. People who were teenagers or young adults during the regime relate it to me as just another corrupt government.

    For me, and probably for anybody older than 40, the atrocities carried out during that time are “recent” history. I’ve tried to explain how from the outside, the Punto Final did long term damage to Argentina’s image abroad. Without accountability, there can be no resolution. Without understanding what happened and why, there is always the possibility of another authoritarian government. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it

    Shouldn’t the poster in your article say what “we” did to our own people, rather than what the dictatorship did to us?



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