Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

My partner and I got back on Thursday after a five day trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was the first trip to Argentina for the both of us and we are definitely going back.

One of the highlights of the trip was going to the Plaza de Mayo, which is in front of the Casa Rosada (Pink House), their versions of the National Mall and the White House respectively. At the Plaza was this image which is pictured. It's the symbol of Los Madres, the mothers and grandmothers of the "disappeared." It was on this day back in 1976, that the a miliarty junta took over and began what has been called the "Dirty War," where tens of thousands of young intellectuals, students, artisits and political activists were taken to their deaths.

Los Madres were women who stood up against the military, demanding to know the whereabouts of their loved ones and they protested in the Plaza de Mayo. They continued protesting, long after democracy came back to Argentina, pressing for the punishment of human rights abusers. They ended their protest in 1986 after then President Nestor Kirchner overturned the amnesty laws enacted after the restoration of democracy in 1983 to protect the military.

The last few years have not been easy in America and I do believe that the Bush Adminstration did much (such as torture of suspects) that has brought shame. But even though we have slipped, I am thankful that here in America we have not had to deal with the military on the streets, taking our loved ones away never to be seen again. We have been able to express our opinions without fear of being persecuted. We don't live in fear of death squads.

Argentina is now a democratic society where the military knows its place. In 2001, when a sevre economic crisis gripped the country and led to a succession of presidents, the military stayed in their barracks. Democracy endures, both in Argentina and America and that is something to be thankful for.

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