La Plata school honors its dictatorship victims, amends records

Among the 100 people whose files were updated are the two disappeared children of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo co-founder, the late Hebe de Bonafini

Updated school records at a La Plata school. Credit: National University of La Plata

The Rafael Hernández National School of La Plata amended the school records of 100 students, teachers, and non-teaching staff to acknowledge they were victims of state-sponsored terrorism during the military dictatorship (1976-1983). Among those whose files were ammended were the two disappeared children of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo co-founder, the late Hebe de Bonafini.

The announcement was made in a ceremony that took place in the school, which belongs to the National University of La Plata (UNLP, for its Spanish acronym). The updated records were received by the relatives and friends of those who were dissappeared.

School director Dominique Suffern Quirno explained that the amendment is a policy that the university has been carrying out since 2015 to “keep memory alive.”

Quirno stressed that the initiative aims at adding the reconstructed identities of a decimated generation to “recognize them in institutional memories.” She said that the school members who were dissapeared add to an equivalent of almost four entire divisions.

“We honor memory by handing over these ammended records. Our school seeks to offer quality education guided by humanist principles, emphasizing a critical spirit and capacity to transform history”, she said, adding that “the recovery of the past is essential in building an individual and collective identity.”

She also said that “victims of state-sponsores terrorism are at the crossroads of memory and history,” stating that it is impossible “to be indifferent in the face of kidnapping, disappearances, and murder.”

Among those whose records were ammended — the files have an official seal stating that the person was a victims of state-sponsored terrorism –- are those of Franja Morada founder and lawyer Sergio Karakachoff; Communist Party activist Santiago Sánchez Viamonte; Peronist University Youth activist Rubén Leonardo Fossati, and Montoneros militant Rodolfo Axat.

Hebe de Bonafini’s sons Jorge and Raúl, both of them Communist activists, were among those who had their files updated. The former was a Physics student and the latter was studying Zoology.

UNLP Human Rights Secretary Verónica Cruz said that these events “give new meaning to the institutional memory of the disappearances, kidnappings and murders, and their relationship with the present, in light of [Argentina] celebrating 40 years of democracy and understanding the importance of defending it.”

Memory and Reparation Policies director Guadalupe Godoy told Télam that the amendment was done was because the files stated that the students and school employees had incurred in “service abandonment.” The truth is that they gained that status after being kidnapped, disappeared, or murdered during the dictatorship.

“Taking into account that we are talking about a genocide in which society was the largest victim as it was transformed from its roots, reparation becomes an institutional matter”, she said, stressing that “in the legacy of every one that came through the university, there is a record of their condition as victims of state-sponsored terrorism.”

– with information from Télam


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