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Growing Up Under Dictatorship
Argentina: 30 years after a bloody coup (Part 2)
Fernando Marino-Aguirre (kalonik)     Print Article 
Published 2006-03-29 17:16 (KST)   
On March 24, 1976, I was 12. Life went by wonderfully in those years. My first memory of that day is that there were no classes. Later that day, Argentina's soccer team was scheduled to play a game in Poland, but we did not know if it would be on TV.

The following day -- the principal of the elementary school spoke of the kindness of the new military government. Order had been returned to the country. No longer would there be chaos.

The Front of the Mechanics School of the Navy, the worst concentration camp of the Argentine dictatorship. Since Nestor Kirchner's presidency, it has been a memorial. The sign says, "Space for memory
©2006 F. Marino-Aguirre
Before that day, we were able to slow dance. Afterwards, we did not return to dancing until we were 17. We did not understand that something had changed, but everything was changing. The Argentine middle-class was happy with the coup d'etat, although years later they would cry about their dead friends and be surprised by the atrocities that happened while they looked the other way.

Two years later -- 1978. I was returning home after secondary school. It was 6 p.m. and two army trucks had stopped an automobile. The soldiers removed the driver by force. He was probably one of the 30,000 people "missing" from those years. I lived -- I would find out later -- six blocks from the worst concentration camp of the Argentine dictatorship.

Many adolescents my age and adults witnessed "military operations" in which the soldiers stole furniture and television sets from houses.

Time after time, our parents told us of some friend who was going away to live in another place. These were years in which it was not possible to think. The military killed people because they had books on cubism. Cubism and Cuba were the same, obviously. Millions of books were set afire and publishers were assassinated.

One of the generals of the Argentine army said to International Herald Tribune in 1977, "First we will kill terrorists. After that, we will kill collaborators. Later we will kill the supporters. And, finally, we will kill hesitant people." That was the climate of our time. That was our adolescence.

Rodolfo Walsh
Rodolfo Walsh (a journalist kidnapped, tortured, and assassinated by the Argentine military government) said in 1977:
The censorship of the press, the persecution of intellectuals, the leveling of my house, the murder of dear friends, and the loss of a daughter who died fighting, are some of the facts that force me to this form of clandestine expression after freely working as writer and journalist for almost thirty years.
The next day, Rodolfo Walsh was kidnapped. Nothing more was heard about him and his body was never found. He is one of many journalists assassinated by the dictatorship.

Because of him, and thousands of other Argentineans, we chose journalism as a way to attest the truth. We are always striving to be better, remembering each one of them. What happened must "nevermore" happen again.

Related Articles
Argentina, 30 Years After Bloody Coup
When Soccer Served to Silence Crimes

©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Fernando Marino-Aguirre

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