La Perla

March 18, 2014  •  Leave a Comment


*I am going to start doing "Quick Posts" on my blog, where I post a picture and some thoughts. I have noticed that I am always thinking "Oh, I should blog about this." but I never do, because it takes a lot of time. So here is the first Quick Post.*

Today we went to La Perla (The Pearl), which was used as a concentration camp during the most recent dictatorship (1976-1983). It is out in the countryside and was the primary concentration of the roughly 25 in the province of Córdoba. More than 2,500 Desaparecidos ("Disappeared Ones" people who either did or were thought to oppose the government and were therefore kidnapped) spent time at La Perla throughout the dictatorship. According to our guide, some were there for hours and others for years before being "transferred" (killed). The room in this picture is La Cuadra (Square or Room). All of the prisoners stayed in this room. They could not talk to each other. They had no beds. They were given numbers instead of names. 

For me, one of the most remarkable things about La Perla is that after the dictatorship ended, it was used--as it had been prior to the dictatorship--as a military barracks for low-level soldiers. After 20 years, the president decided it should be used as a memorial site instead, and since 2009 it has been.

While the horrors of La Perla are neither on the same level nor of the same magnitude as the Nazi concentration camps, the recency is stunning. The majority of the Desaparecidos are around the same age as my parents, as the dictatorship ended just 3 years before my brother was born.

This recency, I believe, contributes to the majority of the societal differences between Argentina and other countries. People here remember the dictatorship. They knew people who spoke out against what was happening, and now nobody knows where they are. For this reason, there is graffiti everywhere; protests all the time; and passion when it comes to politics. As a result of this recency, too, the economic situation is far from stable. 

History is not my strong suit, but it is intriguing to visit a place like this and analyze the mindset of the country.



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