Argentina makes a special commitment to its citizens on the Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice, which is observed each year on March 24. On this day in 1976, a right-leaning military regime took over the governance in the country, subsequently stamping out all forms of real and perceived resistance and hurting their citizens. It is to these people — the ones hurt and missing to this day — that the Argentinian government makes amends, honoring the sacrifices made and holding a celebration of their memories.
History of Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice
On March 24, 1976, the military took over the government in Argentina, overthrowing the existing president, Isabel Perón. A new National Reorganization Process led by Lt. General Rafaél Videla began running the country. This period of rule is commonly referred to as the ‘Dirty War’ or ‘La Guerra Sucia.’
During their years in power, the military was involved in many violent acts of suppression against more liberal citizens. Anyone considered a threat to the ruling government was persecuted, including socialists, journalists, artists, students, and other political groups. They banned books, music, films, plays, and magazines they considered a risk to their rule. Families opposing this rule suddenly found their children taken away to be raised by military-affiliated families. Official numbers put the missing people at 30,000, although various estimates conclude this number could be way higher. Getting these numbers is hard, as the military government destroyed all records at that time.
Seven bloody years later, Argentina held a democratic election, and the Dirty War finally ended. The pain of the lost children lingered, however, and led to an organization called the Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo or Las Madres y Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo. Consisting of family members of many victims of the war, this group was vociferous in demanding justice for their loved ones. While the new government took a few steps towards justice, the military leaders’ trials and punishment caused unrest in a land already ravaged by civil war. And so, official efforts fell short, and many perpetrators were not punished for their crimes. The Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo thought this was unacceptable and increased their efforts to get justice for the missing. They took to the streets in protest and wore headscarves embroidered with the names of the loved ones they lost in the war. The Argentinian government finally declared a special day to commemorate these victims in 2006, which is celebrated to this day.
Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice timeline
Economic collapse and a resurgence of democracy, among other factors, see the ‘Dirty War' finally end and a democratic government is elected.
In a bid to reduce unrest, the president of democratic Argentina pardons and releases imprisoned military persons accused of crimes in the Dirty War; this move raises people's ire and sparks massive protests, leading to the establishment of a special day to commemorate the victims.
The Argentine National Congress puts forth a law for a special commemoration of the victims of the Dirty War; it is implemented in 2006.
The 30th anniversary of the coup, also the first time the Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice is held in Argentina, is marked by massive public demonstrations and marches.
Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice FAQs
How is the Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice celebrated in Argentina?
Argentinians hold peaceful rallies and marches on the streets, sometimes carrying photographs of those who were lost to the ‘Dirty War.’ They also join countless organizations and relatives of disappeared people in demanding justice for the victims.
Why is May 25 important to Argentina?
The ‘Día de la Revolución de Mayo’ or the Anniversary of the First National Government on May 25 commemorates the creation of what most people see as the first patriotic government of Argentina. It was formed on this day in 1810, and was commonly called the ‘Primera Junta.’
What are the other important holidays in Argentina?
The Anniversary of the First National Government on May 25 and Independence Day on July 9 are two of the most prominent holidays in Argentina. Both are considered national days by the country.
How to Observe Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice
Watch films and documentaries on the war
Check out feature films and documentaries that portray the effects of the Dirty War. Organize a special watch party on this day to spread awareness of this tragic period in Argentinian history.
Learn about the lost Argentinians
Commemorate the war and its victims in your own way, by learning all you can about the war and the people who disappeared during this time. There are plenty of online sources and materials you can peruse to find out more about the victims and whether they got justice yet.
Hold your loved ones close
Cherish your loved ones in the memory of those lost forever. Get together for quick meals, family bonding time, or a movie night. Spend time with those who matter while you've still got a chance.
5 Interesting Facts About Argentina
Democracy brought answers
The democratic government established right after the Dirty War created a National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons (CONADEP) to investigate and find the people who went missing during this tragic time.
Animation began in Argentina
Quirino Cristiani and Federico Valle produced “El Apostol” in 1917 on the political corruption in Buenos Aires; it is the first full-length animated feature film ever made.
Argentinians worship Diego Maradona
The late Argentine football player was so loved that fans created a church and a religion in his name, called the 'Iglesia Maradoniana.'
Argentina has another name
Officially, the country is called the Argentine Republic.
Argentina occupies a large area
The world's eighth-largest country is bigger than Mexico and Texas combined.
Why Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice is Important
It's a chance to honor the victims
This day keeps alive the memory of every person affected by the war. We can commemorate and commiserate with the relatives of every victim and hopefully see justice being done.
It reminds us that truth is important
This day in Argentina is a stark reminder of what happens when the core systems of truth and justice fail. It makes us draw a sobering conclusion — basic rights need to be fought for constantly or the world risks chaos and suffering for many people.
We're expanding our worldview
Not only are we seeing how important basic rights are, but we also learn to see reality from another perspective. The Dirty War, fought on another continent, pushes us to confront and change how we view truth and justice.
Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice dates