By: Dr. Ana Bausset-Page (MWSU Spanish professor)
Argentina went through a period between 1976 and 1983 called the Dirty War where around 30,000 people “disappeared”. The fascist military government was involved in the kidnapping, torturing and killing of those that opposed them. University students were their favorite target, many of those were picked up just because they had signed up to a Gym or a Sports Center and the government compiled their names in a list, “clandestine” meetings. Others were taken from their homes and many from the Universities, considered “centers” of communist teachings.
I was a student of Geology at the University of La Plata, and one morning, when headed to a Physics class, I noticed many students were turning around and yelling “run, run”. We found out there was a bomb in one of the classrooms.
Things were getting worse and worse, at night I could hear shooting out in the streets and I was wondering what was happening, I just wanted to go to School.
One evening, I gave a fellow student my pass to eat dinner at the University’s Cafeteria, a huge building in the second floor and surrounded by large windows. I was not feeling well and decided to stay in my room. That day, the Argentine Army barged into the Cafeteria, shooting at the innocent students. Many got hurt, shot at and others attempted to jump through the windows onto the grounds below from a second floor. The next day, I read in the paper about the incident and decided I needed to go back to my home town for a while. Soon after that, the University of La Plata closed its doors to all students.
I believe many could have survived or saved their lives if they had some way of defending themselves. People were taken from their homes under gunpoint. The element of surprise and not being informed about what was going on had a lot to do with this to; people were not even sure why they were taken away. I believe educators and good citizens need to be trained and have access to guns to protect and defend themselves, and may be others.