In the School of Naval Mechanics of Buenos Aires, over 5,000 were killed and much more tortured during the military ruling between 1976 and 1983. President Kirchner authorized to erect a monument in honor of the victims and in an unprecedented act in the history of Latin America apologized, on behalf of the State, for the crimes committed there.
Argentineans lived a moving day on Wednesday. To mark the 28th anniversary of a military coup that stripped the South American country of democracy and left, according to Human rights groups estimations, up to 30,000 people systematically persecuted, kidnapped and murdered by the state between 1976 and 1983, the government authorized to create+ a “Museum to Memory”, in the building that once hosted one of the most horrendous death camps during the dirty war.
The notorious School of Naval Mechanics, or ESMA by its initials in Spanish, was the grave of no less than 5,000 people, reported by the authorities at that time as “disappeared”. There, the Argentine Navy tortured and killed what they called “terrorists and insurgents” in their criminal crusade against “communism”. Only a handful survived.
One of Kirchner's biggest priorities is to put that to rights. "Not even full justice will make amends for the aberration Argentines had to endure. But we have to work with the tools at our disposal," he said this month. Esma is the most potent symbol of the barbarous cruelty the country's military leaders unleashed on the population.
However, the moving day had started earlier in the morning when Kirchner himself ordered Army Chief Commander, Roberto Bendini, to remove the picture of Jorge Rafael Videla, Army Chief and de facto president of Argentina between 1976 and 1981, from a wall at the Army School.
Then, Kirchner addressed a strong statement to the Army staff in which he asked the military “not to interfere with the normal constitutional order of the country again, as the State terrorism was one of the bloodiest and unjust experiences the Argentine people had to live in history”.
Then, Kirchner, his ministers and the Major of the Buenos Aires city, Anibal Ibarra, left the place to take part in the commemorative acts before the walls of the ESMA. In a quite emotional and simple act both officials signed the documents allowing human rights groups as the world famous “Mothers of Plaza de Mayo” to set up a museum in honor of the victims of the State terrorism.
A visible moved Kirchner listened to several poems written by either killed or survivor prisoners in the ESMA, including one belonging of one of his young fellows when he was a college student. The Spanish singer Joan Manuel Serrat, played his famous song “To Liberty”, choired by the many thousands of people that attend to the ceremony.
Later, in an unprecedented act in the history of Latin America, Kirchner apologized, on behalf of the State, for the crimes committed during the dirty war of the seventies. “I come here as President of Argentina to apologize, on behalf of the State, for having kept silenced during two decades of democratic ruling”.
“The speech of our president was excellent. It really moved me”, told PRAVDA.RU, Ebe de Bonafini, leader of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Association. “I feel happy because it is the vindication of our dead children. They were with us, today.”, she added.
And one can only say yes. From the shadows of the horror which meant the dungeons of the School of Naval Mechanics for a generation plenty of life, they shouted with the crowd: “30,000 of disappeared Argentineans: Present!”.
Photo: Army chief removes Videla's picture at the Army School. Kirchner looks over.