Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Día Nacional de la Memoria por la Verdad y la Justicia

Today is a memorial day of sorts, translated to Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice. An Argentine's Facebook page looks like a ghost town today - everyone has taken down their profile pictures in remembrance of the 30,000 Argentines who disappeared during the Dirty War. Going Local Travel also blogged about this Facebook phenomenon here. NPR ran a recent story on on the war's continued effects here.

The holiday is new, created a few years ago, but I wonder if it's enough to really prevent those human rights violations from occurring again. The day's motto 'Nunca Mas' (Never Again) is, I think, misleading. While the holiday might serve as a reminder and a warning against mass atrocities, it's commonplace to find such on a smaller scale in daily life. I've complained about the overwhelming feeling of distrust for the police and justice system in this country, and the Argentine Post recently reported on the high level of corruption that Argentines believe is inherent in the political process. The outcome of this attitude is complete disrespect for government and authority, and sadly, for the holiday itself. Many Argentines hit the bars and clubs last night, taking advantage of the chance to sleep in. I know this because the streets were full of drunk, disrespectful, shouting people throughout the morning.

To really translate the message of remembrance into Argentine life would involve demanding truth and justice today. We need to replace Argentine cynicism with expectations. We should EXPECT more from all levels of government and stop ignoring the injustices that occur so frequently around us. We have to stop letting ignorant and abusive people and companies take advantage of us. We have to reclaim the right to walk down the street without being robbed, beaten, sexually harassed, or electrocuted by faulty power lines. I wonder what those 30,000 'disappeared' would have thought about the current situation here. They were a threat to the dictorial state because they read, they had ideas, and they knew the difference between right and wrong. Don't ignore the wrong Argentina! Pretending that you or your friends weren't robbed is today's equivalent of pretending that your neighbor didn't disappear. I know of one situation in which a person was robbed at gunpoint and then recognized the robber as a security guard at a grocery store - the robbery was not reported. Today's situation can easily escalate again to great injustice.

Today is meant to honor the memory of the disappeared - to do so, we have to protect our small, seemingly miniscule rights. Silence is not going to save you Argentina, it's smothering you.

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