River Plate Stadium and Parque de la Memoria

Photo by Norito Hagino

By Katie Kamimoto

Today we had a field trip to ESMA, the soccer stadium, and the Memorial Park. ESMA, Escuela de Mecanica de la Armada, was a naval academy which also served as one of the main detention centers in the middle of Buenos Aires during the dictatorship in the 1970’s. Unfortunately we were not able to look at the museum today since they were on their summer schedule, so instead we walked to the River Plate football stadium where the 1978 FIFA World Cup was held. There has been a lot of controversy over the 1978 FIFA World Cup which has many disturbing memories associated with the World Cup for many Argentineans.

 In 1978, when the whole country was celebrating when Argentina won the Cup, less than 1km away there was ESMA, the detention center holding hundreds of people in captivity. As the city was celebrating the victory on the streets, imagining the psychological torture the detained must have been through while in their cells as the whole city celebrated, must have been immense.

The Memorial Park was built in homage to the people detained, disappeared and assassinated, and aims to share the history of state terrorism by the arts. The Memorial Park is built next to the River Plate, which is symbolic of the many who were victims of the “flights of death”. The “flight of death” was a tactic the military used in order to destroy any evidence of bodies even existing by drugging the detainees to make then unconscious, loading them on a plane, and dumping them, hands and feet tied, into the river. The main monument had four walls with the names of the disappeared engraved in chronological and alphabetical order. It was installed in an open zigzag shape representing an open wound that still needs healing, a kind of healing can only be made possible by truth and justice. The different art installations share the history of the state terrorism, reminding everyone the horrors that happened during the dictatorship.

Walking from ESMA to River Stadium to the Memorial Park made me realize how short in distance everything was from one another. ESMA was just like any other building located in the center of the city, there is no way that the businesses and the people living in the apartments did not hear the screams and the cries of the tortured. The amount of fear that the state imposed on the citizens of Argentina allowed them to continue with the torturing and the disappearing of thousands of innocent people. Even though the horrors of state terrorism are now over, the disappeared have disappeared, and the only thing for Argentina to do now is to move on, but also to never forget.
Photo by Norito Hagino
Photo by Norito Hagino
Photo by Norito Hagino

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