Lost identities in Argentina

Lucia Zuppa, BCC's own Fullbright Scholar. Written by: Susanna Pehrson Argentina, a country far south of the American continent, known by many for its turbulent history, capital Buenos Aires and, of course, its tango, was the topic of a lecture on Thursday by Lucia Zuppa, BCC Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence 2007/08. More specifically, Zuppa spoke about populism, dictatorships and the challenge her country is facing, trying to get to terms with the disappearance of an estimated 30,000 individuals and 1,000 kidnapped children during the cruel and violent dictatorship through 1976 to 1983, named the Dirty War. Zuppa, who this school year teaches Spanish at BCC, is normally a Spanish and English teacher in San Luis, Argentina. She explained how the missing children from this period are her age, around 30 years old, many of them born by parents in captivity, parents later killed and pronounced “disappeared,” due to the ruling junta’s refusal to take responsibility for any of its committed murders. These children were given away to families and have never been told their true identity. The country is now discovering this missed generation. The big number of grown-ups that disappeared during this period, many times in their 20’s, has been given much attention both nationally and internationally through “Madres de Plaza de Mayo” and “Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo,” mothers and grandmothers silently walking around the main square in Buenos Aires each week since 1977, to not let the government forget their sons and daughters that disappeared during the Dirty War. Big campaigns run by “Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo,” are now broadcasted in Argentina and posters are on display everywhere, telling younger people to find out if their identity is the one they believe it is. This is something that touches all Argentineans, explained Zuppa. Not only are grandmothers looking for the grandchildren they never got to know, everybody in Argentina knows that they could be acquainted with someone who has been lied to their entire life. The law states that a person has to take the test if required by a second party. If revealed that their identity is another than they believed, they have the choice of meeting their biological family, or can refuse the meeting “It is very hard to approach this dilemma. How do you do if you believe your neighbor could be one of the missing children?” said Zappa. “Maybe they don’t want to know.” Looking back on Argentina’s history and how it lead to the cruelties performed by the military junta in the Dirty War, Zuppa pointed out how many times the country has been under military leadership up until 1983, and how many times power has shifted hands. During unstable times it was common to pass the presidential title to the most popular military leader, said Zuppa. Labor unions, which are very important parts of Argentina’s political scene, were a product of Per