Monday, 20 January 2014

Argentina: Concern over future of Parque de la memoria

Worrying news from Argentina as question marks hang over the future of the Parque de la memoria (memory park) in Buenos Aires.

Staff there were recently told they would not receive a pay rise this year, which, given Argentina's inflation rate, is the equivalent of a substantial pay cut. In a blunt ultimatum, the staff were invited to resign if they had a problem with the decision. The employees of the park seem to have been singled out for this measure, which is not affecting other municipal employees.

This has given rise to fears that the move is a precursor to winding down the park. It is a symbol of the lack of commitment to the site by the BA government and the park's director herself has expressed concern that the park will end up "devoid of content".

This would be unfortunate; when I was there almost exactly 10 years ago, I observed that the park was a long way out of the city centre, rather bare and not well-used. However, in the intervening period, various new pieces of art have been added and activities have taken place. The Parque de la memoria seems to have become an established part of the capital's memory landscape (perhaps helped by the fact that the nearby ex-ESMA site is also an active place of memory). According to Pagina/12, the site was visited by over half a million people last year, so it is obviously being used. It would be a retrograde step to close it down.

Cara Levey and Francesca Lessa have written an excellent article for Al Jazeera on this issue, see below, and rightly call for the long-term securing of memorial sites.

Acusan a Macri de querer “convertir el Parque de la Memoria en una plaza vacía de contenido” (Telam)
Denuncian peligro de cierre de Parque de la Memoria de víctimas de dictadura argentina (El nuevo Herald)
Landscapes of Memory: Argentina's persistent struggles over the past (Al Jazeera)

Read more here:
Open letter by academics protesting against the possible closure of the park (Facebook)

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