The former location in Argentina where individuals were detained and subjected to torture has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Argentina expressed its appreciation for the United Nations conference’s decision to designate a former secret detention and torture facility as a World Heritage site.
The ESMA Museum and Site of Memory has been added to the list of sites considered to have exceptional value to humanity by a UNESCO conference in Saudi Arabia. This is a unique occurrence as it is rare for a museum focusing on recent historical events to receive such recognition.
The former Navy School of Mechanics, known as ESMA, housed the most infamous illegal detention center that operated during Argentina’s last brutal military dictatorship that ruled from 1976 through 1983. It now operates as a museum and a larger site of memory, including offices for government agencies and human rights organizations.
“I cannot reword.”
Approximately 5,000 individuals were held captive at ESMA during the period of dictatorship from 1976 to 1983. Numerous among them were subjected to torture and subsequently vanished without any evidence. Additionally, ESMA served as a temporary residence for detainees who were later thrown alive into the ocean or river during the infamous “death flights,” representing one of the most savage aspects of the dictatorship.
The ESMA facility also had a section for expectant mothers, who were usually transferred from other unauthorized detention centers. They would stay there until they delivered their babies, which were then taken away by military personnel.
In a statement, Horacio Pietragalla Corti, Argentina’s Human Rights Secretary, stated that this global acknowledgment serves as a powerful rebuttal to those who refuse to acknowledge or minimize state terrorism and the atrocities committed during the previous civil-military dictatorship.
Pietragalla stated that the naming is a way to honor the numerous individuals who have gone missing in our continent. He also emphasized that this event holds great importance in Argentine and regional history, as it sets a precedent for being a global leader in promoting Memory, Truth, and Justice.
Since 2006, Argentina has taken significant measures to prosecute crimes committed during the dictatorship, surpassing other Latin American nations. It has successfully conducted nearly 300 trials addressing crimes against humanity.
One of the factors for choosing to include the ESMA in the World Heritage list was the recognition that the site symbolizes the unlawful oppression enforced by various military dictatorships in the area.
The designation of a former detention and torture center as a World Heritage site comes at a time when the running mate of the leading candidate to win the presidential election next month has harshly criticized efforts to bring former military officials to trial.
Victoria Villaruel, the vice presidential candidate to right-wing populist Javier Milei, has worked for years to push a narrative that the military junta was fighting a civil war against armed leftist guerillas. Milei rocked Argentina’s political landscape when he unexpectedly received the most votes in national primaries last month.
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