The WIP The global source for women's perspectives

Argentina Lingering Questions

I read the Byline story on Argentina and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and found that the Comment option wasn’t working so I am going to say a few things here.
I started traveling to Argentina in the early 70s as a child and have been back many times since. I remember in the early 70s, a time when I was too young to be anything but curious about life in general, that there was a sense of excitement about the future of the country and people were out and about seeming to be enjoying life. Yes, I was primarily seeing the middle-upper classes, but my point in mentioning this is that by the mid-late 70s I was noticing a big difference.
At this point I was an American teenager who was used to being able to talk about anything I wanted to and ask anything I wanted to. I remember the sense of fear when I asked about politics and how strongly the person driving the car reacted when I innocently stuck my tourist camera out the window to take a picture of the Presidential Palace. No explanation – just NO and HIDE THAT CAMERA NOW. And I remember how the military police with machine guns stopped cars randomly and would quiz everyone about who was in the car, why, where they were going and demanded the driver to show papers. When I asked about it I received answers that were not exactly true (understanding Spanish I knew this, although I had by then learned not to pursue the topic further)
In the 80s I asked questions about the military years of the 70s and people were still unwilling to talk about it. There was a lot of downplaying of events, and a reluctance to engage in conversation even in the privacy of the home.
In the 90s I found a book in a used bookstore in Washington DC written by one of the military generals, defending all the actions of the 70s government and military. It was after reading this book that I asked questions again, on my next trip. When I pressed a bit, I was told how the government did what it did in order to fight the Communists. End of conversation. The people I spoke to were good people, well educated people, so I doubt that ignorance was behind their comments.
The last time I was there, just a few years ago, the topic of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and the events of the 70s was “old history”. I have my own ideas about why people even today don’t want to talk about this piece of history. But mostly I wonder if there is still a reason that they might be afraid? Do I need to worry for them?

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