Memorial stones commemorating high school students and teachers disappeared by the last civic-military dictatorship were vandalized on Thursday night in Buenos Aires.
Messages denying state terrorism and advocating for right-wing presidential candidate Javier Milei were spray painted both on the plaques and the sidewalk at the entrances of three public high schools, prompting their student communities to call for strikes and rallies in the defense of memory.
The vandalism took place at the Carlos Pellegrini Business High School, María Claudia Falcone Middle School, and Manuel Belgrano School.
Memorial plates located at the entrance of these schools were painted with slogans promoting the presidential candidacy of La Libertad Avanza leader Javier Milei, together with denialist messages disputing the number of people disappeared. “They weren’t 30,000. Milei 2023, VLLC (an acronym for Long live liberty, damn),” read one.
Human rights organization Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, which searches for children born in captivity, spoke out against the vandalism on social media on Friday.
“We condemn the vandalism against memorial plates of disappeared students from the Belgrano, Carlos Pellegrini and Claudia Falcone schools in Buenos Aires City. We express our solidarity with the school community. Forty years into the longest democratic period, we say #NuncaMás [Never Again] to hate speech,” the Grandmothers tweeted.
Both the authorities and the students’ center at the Carlos Pellegrini called for a redress rally on Friday that will include blocking the street in order to repair the plaques.
“We believe these actions that attack memory and the validity of human rights are inadmissible and reprehensible, especially on the 40th anniversary of the restoration of democracy. We call upon us to defend the rule of law and the full legitimacy of democracy, with a profound conviction that such a commitment is the path we must take as a society,” the school’s leadership team wrote on the school’s website.
Lorena Battistiol, director of Sites and Spaces of Memory, told Télam news agency they have been gathering information about what happened in the schools from very early.
“The school communities will organize reparation events. We are all pretty shocked, condemning this situation and we at the Human Rights Secretariat wish to support the initiatives of students, school staff, teachers, administrative staff, and the comrades of detained-disappeared”, she added.
With information by Télam