Illapu in concert; brief song excerpt
As of 2002, March 24th in Argentina is recognized as the National Day of Memory for Truth and Justice. On this day in 1976, a military coup brought to power what is called the “National Reorganization Process”, which led to what the ruling junta called the “Dirty war” against subversives. The public referred to this time as “the violence” or “the repression”. During this time (1976-1982) thousands of people were ‘disappeared.’
Although it has taken time and several governments, Argentina has made important steps toward recognizing the atrocities of the past. The National Day of Memory for Truth and Justice was commemorated throughout the week with lectures, theater festivals, film screenings, and concerts, all devoted to the theme of human rights.
We are also approaching the April 2nd anniversary of the 1982 Falklands War (Guerra de las Malvinas), which was a last-ditch effort by the ruling Argentine junta to shore up public support for the regime. The idea was to rest from Britain this small group of islands that Argentina believed are rightfully theirs. This war, intended as a way to unite the country behind a patriotic cause, was a dismal failure for Argentina and resulted in senseless deaths of more than 600 young Argentine soldiers. The war’s end marked the return to civilian government in Argentina.
The Malvinas islands are back in the public eye because the Argentina government has spoken out against British oil exploration in the area. Popular sovereignty and neo-colonialism are the cries from the Argentines, while the Brits speak of the rights of the almost 3,000 UK citizens living on the islands. Roger Waters, recently in Chile and Argentina with his Wall tour, told journalists he believed the islands should belong to Argentina. That got a lot of press.
We attended a public concert, Canto para la Memoria, which featured Argentine singer-songwriters, and Uruguayan songwriter, Daniel Vigiletti, and Chilean folk group, Illapu. It is interesting to note that the main acts were brought from neighboring countries, which also experienced military dictatorships. Argentina does not seem to have prominent national musical artists who have carried on the tradition of popular song known as ‘nueva canción.’ Viglietti and Illapu are artists who experienced the eras of repression in their own countries, but they both expressly stated that their respective countries have yet to take similar steps, as Argentina, toward acknowledging the past.