National Holidays in Argentina: Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice

“Bloody thou art, bloody will be thy end; Shame serves thy life and doth thy death attend”

In Shakespeare’s Richard the third, the duchess of York curses the evil nature of King Edward’s younger brother Richard, who will kill and stop at nothing to gain power. I believe this quote is quite fitting for the murderous villains that usurped the Argentine government in 1976. 

As one of the national holidays in Argentina the Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice commemorates the victims of the country's dictatorship

The Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice is held on March 24

Today, as one of the national holidays in Argentina, the Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice, which is held on March 24th, not only commemorates the 30,000 victims during the dictatorship from 1976 to 1983, but also reminds the survivors of the courage and strength that the Argentine people demonstrated in the face of corrupt assassins. This National Holiday was established in 2002 by law N 25.633 and officially declared March 24th “National day for the truth and justice in commemoration of the victims in the processes initiated in 1976”.

So why was March 24 selected as the day for one of the national holidays in Argentina? On March 24 1976 the government of María Estela Martínez de Perón was unconstitutionally seized by then General Jorge R. Videla. The everyday Porteño citizen carried on as usual, but a menacing change was soon to come. Led by General Jorge R. Videla, the regime self-titled themselves as “the Process of National Reorganization” and established over 380 secret detention centers where suspected enemies of the state were tortured and killed.

This picture shows the famous Mothers of Plaza de Mayo that bravely marched in the face of the Argentine dictatorship

This picture shows the famous Mothers of Plaza de Mayo that bravely marched in the face of the Argentine dictatorship

Horrid crimes against human and civil rights were committed and many victims were forced to seek exile outside the country. Many of those persecuted were artists and musicians who continued fighting against the regime with their spirits through art. But not all artists were lucky enough or had enough resources to leave the country and were either kidnapped, tortured, or killed. 

The musician Charly Garcia did not leave the country during the dictatorship and was frequently harassed and interrogated, often only because he had long hair. He composed a song called “Los dinosaurios” during the dictatorship and was continuously brought to police stations asked to explain the lyrics to the song, which was a metaphor for the ominous repression. When interrogated about the lyrics to the song he merely stated that the song was about how the dinosaurs disappeared.

Los amigos del barrio pueden desaparecer,                  Friends from the neighborhood can disappear
los cantores de radio pueden desaparecer.                   Radio singers can dissapear
Los que están en los diarios pueden desaparecer,       Those in the newspaper can disappear
la persona que amas puede desaparecer.                     People you love can disappear
Los que están en el aire                                                 Those in the air
pueden desaparecer en el aire.                                      Can disappear in the air
Los que están en la calle                                                Those in the street
pueden desaparecer en la calle.                                    Can disappear in the street

Another song by Charly Garcia, “Canción de Alicia en el país,” is also a metaphor for the atrocities committed by the dictatorship.

No cuentes lo que viste en los jardines,                        Don’t talk about what you saw in the gardens
el sueño acabó.                                                             The dream is over.
Ya no hay morsas ni tortugas                                        There are no more walruses or turtles
Un río de cabezas aplastadas por el mismo pie            A river of heads smashed by the same foot
juegan cricket bajo la luna                                             play cricket below the moon
Estamos en la tierra de nadie, pero es mía                   We’re in noman’s land, but it’s mine
Los inocentes son los culpables, dice su señoría,         The innocent are guilty, says your lordship
el Rey de espadas.                                                        The King of swords.

The following is a list of other Rock Nacional songs of commemoration, rebellion, grievance, anger, loss and remembrance of the most violent periods in Argentine history.

“Canción Inutil” Ataque 77

“Cuervos en casa” Fito Paez

“Todo preso es politico” Los Redonditos de Ricotta

“La marcha de la bronco” Pedro y Pablo

“Ellos Son” Los Violadores

“Las botas locas” Sui Generis

A plaque commemorating this holiday reads Memory, Truth, Justice

A plaque commemorating this holiday reads Memory, Truth, Justice

To find out about other national holidays in Argentina or more interesting facts about Argentine culture, check out our blog! Or to see these things for yourself, contact Say Hueque to start planning your trip!

Written by Brian Athey

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