Argentina–¡Mira vos!–Part 1

From Palermo we went across the city to Plaza de Mayo to see the weekly Madres de Plaza de Mayo (Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo) protest. Every Thursday afternoon mothers whose children “disappeared” during the dictatorship in the 70s come out as a way to remember those who were “lost”. Since the dictatorship this group has split into two distinct organizations. According to Gaston and the women I spoke to at the Plaza one is more heavily involved in post-dictatorship politics than the other.

A third group, Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo), also seeks to raise awareness for the desaparecidos but in a different way. As their name suggests they are interested in discovering the whereabouts of their grandchildren. What happened was this: during the dictatorship the children of these grandmothers were taken to prisons and torture centers. While there, many women gave birth. Although the parents were killed these babies were taken in by military officers or given up for adoption. The goal of Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo is to recover their grandchildren. They offer free DNA and blood tests to determine whether the child was born to desaparecidos and to date they have reclaimed 106 grandchildren. Although this might sound like a noble cause, there is a lot of controversy about this project. Many believe that providing DNA testing, while providing grandmothers closure, is a traumatic experience for the child, who previously might not have known he or she was even adopted.

The woman in the center was reading the names of children who “disappeared” during the dictatorship.

The white handkerchiefs covering the head is the symbol for Madres de Plaza de Mayo.

Afterwards we crossed the city again and headed for el cementario general (the General Cemetery). We were particularly interested in seeing the tomb of Eva Perón and made it (just) in time to take a quick look around. It may sound creepy, but I really love seeing cemeteries here. Most house very elaborate tombs and mausoleums and are almost always decorated with flowers and other colorful trinkets.

Outside of the General Cemetery

Evita Perón’s tomb.

Our evening ended with a dinner of empanadas and humitas at a restaurant near the cemetery. It was (obviously) so so so yummy! After this we headed home since we had an early flight to catch.

That pretty much sums up my time in Buenos Aires! It was a delightful city and I wish we had more days to explore. It’s a city I would consider working in, but it would have been difficult to live/work/study there. For one, the food is ridiculously distracting and I would eat out all the time; secondly, I would spend all my money on books (and food) and thus would be homeless; thirdly: the accent sounds too funny; and lastly: I noticed that porteños would speak to us in English more frequently than santiaguinos presumably because Buenos Aires is more touristy than Santiago (which wouldn’t have helped my Spanish any). But I would absolutely love the chance to go back to Buenos Aires (which, if I’m lucky, will happen in December!) and travel around Argentina some more in general. It’s such a big country that there are very obvious regional differences that I want a chance to see.

Hope you liked the post! Remember: I haven’t talked about Iguazú Falls yet, so stay tuned for that update! :) ¡Chao!