Museum of Memory (ESMA)

Wall of “disappeared” people

Yesterday John and I went with some embassy folks to the Museum of Memory at the site of the former Argentine naval school. A translated version of the web page describes it: History and memory come alive in this space created in 2004 to preserve memory, promote and defend human rights and bear witness to crimes against humanity committed during state terrorism. It is located on the 17-hectare property of the Navy Mechanics School (ESMA), where a clandestine detention, torture, and extermination center operated during the last civic-military dictatorship (1976-1983).

The museum itself is housed in the building where the “disappeared” (as they are called) where held and tortured. There’s no furniture or artifacts, just an eerily empty building with nicely done explanations serving as the installations. The attic where they were held was hot and cramped, including the — yes — maternity ward where detained women gave birth (and had their babies taken from them). A recent movie, “Argentina 1985” details the subsequent trial; I highly recommend it. The whole thing was surreal – the building where they were held and tortured wasn’t that large, and officers lived, ate, and relaxed in the same building. Outside, cadets exercised and attended classes. It’s mind boggling.

The campus itself was beautiful. There are dozens of buildings, some still in use as various offices while others are abandoned and overgrown. Signs line some of the walkways showing personal stories of some of the disappeared.

Memorial depicting the mothers who protest (and still do) and look for their children

Last Saturday was rainy and relaxing, and a nice start to the new year. I had a video chat with Ann, Pam, and Jackie, and John Skyped with Russ. We enjoyed the Monday holiday at home, reading.

Friday was a huge treat! My college friend Jamie and her partner Alfred came for dinner after finishing up a long South American cruise – it was just wonderful to see her after what? 40 years? We talked and laughed till close to midnight – we may as well have been back in Galloway Hall at Hendrix! Good times!

I finished several books this week: “Keep Sharp,” by Sanjay Gupta; “The Bullet that Missed (Thursday Murder Club #3); and “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” by Matthew Perry. We also watched “White Noise.”

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