The Future of Memory: Children of the Dictatorship in Argentina Speak, Andrés Jaroslavsky

By Norito Hagino

The book is centered on a series of interviews with young Argentineans who experienced the reality of the last Argentinean dictatorship during their childhood or infancy. Many interviewees had their parents disappeared or murdered by the military, some had to flee the country in order to save their lives, and some were taken away from the hands of their mothers by the repressors when the families were imprisoned. 

Jaroslavsky adds newspaper and magazine quotes, judicial document citations, and historical notes in order to connect the memories and stories of the young Argentineans. Perhaps the most interesting interviewee in the book is Jimena Vicario. Jimena lived with her adoptive mother and was aware that she was adopted. Her parents had been kidnapped when the family tried to flee the country. When Jimena was 8 years old, members of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo came to her door. From there on, she began her journey of going back and forth from the hospital to do blood tests and the court to see the judge, all in order to find her biological grandmother. Jimena had no say in this. Luckily, since her adoptive mother had a legal adoption, Jimena did not have conflicts balancing out the life with the adoptive mother and the biological grandmother. In time, Jimena comes to realize how much her biological grandmother had done to find her. She says, “thanks to Abuelas [de Plaza de Mayo] I’m where I am today. I recovered my identity, which is a human being’s most valuable possession, because without a history there can be no future” (106). Later on, she meets a boy who has been called “Martin” all his life but one day finds out his name is “Andrés.” When he told her that he cannot accept his real name, Jimena tells him that his parents never got to choose anything for him; his school, university, nor clothes. Furthermore, she tells him that “the only inheritance [his] parents left [him] is [his] name and surname.” 

Some of these former-children who lived through the last Argentinean dictatorship had everything taken away. Even after the dictatorship, they were taken away to places without having a say. Jaroslavsky vividly shows the violations of rights that has been occurring in Argentina since 1976. However, the most valuable thing to take out from these series of interviews is the importance of memories and identities which shapes our existence and understanding of our own being.

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