Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Argentina: What happens to clandestine detention centres?

Two recent stories have raised the issue of what happens to clandestine detention centres (CCDs) and other significant places of memory. While some key sites, such as the ESMA, are preserved and used (in the case of the ESMA, as a museum and social centre), there were many more, smaller CCDs - see for example Memoria Abierta to find out more. Some of these are now kept as sites of memory, some might have a plaque or a small memorial and others have been completely destroyed or converted.

On Saturday, social and human rights organisations held a festival at the former CCD El Olimpo in Buenos Aires to raise awareness of what they criticise as the neglect of the site. El Olimpo was dedicated as a Site of Memory in 2005 at the instigation of local residents and human rights organisations. Last year, the city authorities made the decision to replace security personnel there with CCTV cameras. Since then there have been break-ins and broken windows.

Soledad Adeira, a representative of HIJOS (the organisation of children of the disappeared), claimed that the city has a practice of "emptying out" the detention centres, ie making their use impractical. Isabel Cerruti, a former detained-disappeared person, condemned the "lack of protection" for the site.

Meanwhile, last week demolition work started on another former CCD in Merlo, also in Buenos Aires province. The site was controlled by the air force during the dictatorship and is still the subject of legal proceedings. Again, it was local residents who saw what was going on and mobilised to get the work stopped - but by the time the legal order arrived, the building was two-thirds gone.

I've written before about the problems of preserving these sites, but it seems that these problems go on.

Un reclamo por la memoria (Pagina/12)
En Merlo, intentaron demoler un centro clandestino de detenciĆ³n (Tiempo Argentino)

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