In the 1970s, Argentina was the leader in the “Dirty War,” a violent campaign by authoritarian South American regimes to repress left-wing groups and any others who were deemed subversive. Over the course of a decade, Argentina’s military rulers tortured and murdered upwards of 30,000 citizens. Even today, after thirty years of democratic rule, the horror of that time continues to roil Argentine society.
Argentina has also been in the vanguard in determining how to preserve sites of torture, how to remember the “disappeared,” and how to reflect on the causes of the Dirty War. Across the capital city of Buenos Aires are hundreds of grassroots memorials to the victims, documenting the scope of the state’s reign of terror. Although many books have been written about this era in Argentina’s history, the original Spanish-language edition of Memories of Buenos Aires was the first to identify and interpret all of these sites. It was published by the human rights organization Memoria Abierta, which used interviews with survivors to help unearth that painful history.
This translation brings this important work to an English-speaking audience, offering a comprehensive guidebook to clandestine sites of horror as well as innovative sites of memory. The book divides the 48 districts of the city into 9 sectors, and then proceeds neighborhood-by-neighborhood to offer descriptions of 202 known “sites of state terrorism” and 38 additional places where people were illegally detained, tortured, and killed by the government.