President Alberto Fernández has announced the construction of a new memorial site at the Campo de Mayo former clandestine detention centre, dedicated to those who were killed by the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.
The announcement, delivered on the eve of Argentina’s National Day of Memory for Truth and Justice, was made by the president himself at the military garrison in San Miguel, Buenos Aires Province.
Also in attendance were a host of government ministers, including Gabriel Katopodis (Public Works), Martín Soria (Justice & Human Rights), Jorge Taiana (Defence) and Human Rights Secretary Horacio Pietragalla Corti. Survivors groups were also represented in the form of campaigner Iris Avellaneda.
Campo de Mayo was a nerve centre of operations for the Army and served as one of the military’s main hubs during the civic-military dictatorship.
‘El Campito,’ one of the largest clandestine detention centres, was located there, and within the 5,000 hectares of the Campo de Mayo garrison grounds there was also feared sites such as the 201st Intelligence Detachment (known as ‘Las Casitas’), the Prisión de Encausados (“Military Prison for Defendants'') and the Military Hospital, among others. The site included at least two secret maternity wards, where pregnant detainees were kept until giving birth. Their children would be taken away from them before they were killed.
The new Espacio para la Memoria y la Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (“Space for Memory and the Promotion of Human Right”) will be constructed in two parts, said the president, and will cost around two billion pesos with an intended completion date of July 2024. A new building, fence, plaza, office and various halls will be built, with a special permanent exhibition featuring three of the planes used in the so-called “death flights,” from which drugged illegal detainees were killed by being thrown into the Río de la Plata from great heights.
A documentation centre will also be set up, bringing together all the information available on Campo de Mayo and what took place there.
The new space is part of the government's Heritage Infrastructure Plan, which includes the execution of 131 works and projects for the restoration, preservation and enhancement of heritage assets, historic buildings and monuments, officials briefed.
Prior to the development of plans for the construction of a memorial site, the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) was deployed to identify whether there are any remaining clandestine burials within the compound’s grounds.
Experts flew over the area and used state-of-the-art technology to study the terrain. It is expected that in the next few weeks they will begin excavating in some of the areas they have identified as being of interest.
Under former president Mauricio Macri’s 2015-2019 government, his Cambiemos administration had explored the possibility of creating a nature reserve at the site.