Argentine slums and Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo: study trip SPIL
This summer the study association for Political Scientists (SPIL) traveled with a CASSA grant to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for their study trip. The aim of this journey was to give the participants, in addition to their university curriculum, a comprehensive picture of the political situation in the country of destination through the organization of political, journalistic, academic and cultural activities.
The week started with a visit to the Dutch embassy, which gave more insight into the activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Argentina (focused mainly on agriculture), a brief introduction to recent Argentinean politics and a brief commentary on the Dutch commitment and presence at the G20 summit later this year in Buenos Aires.
Also a visit to the Argentine Senate could not be absent from the program. Is was possible to discuss with employees the strong regional spread in the Senate which leads to disproportionate representation of the population as a whole and gives mainly conservative sounds (for example in the abortion debate) a disproportionately large impact.
The full program included, among other things, an appointment with the Dutch journalist Remi Lehmann, a visit to the conservative newspaper La Nacion, a conversation with the Argentinian / Chinese journalist Lucia Wei Hei who works for the BBC, a visit to the presidential palace and the office of president Macri and a conversation with the Argentinian Minister of Justice and Argentine students about the legal system in Argentina.
Through the eyes of a local
One of the most inspiring activities was the bike tour with Argentinian guides. They were able to give a good picture of the link between social unrest and political decision making, for example by telling a lot about the slums in Argentina. The student where also able to talk to them about the Argentine sentiment concerning the Falkland War and the deep contradictions that exist in the country regarding social issues, such as the abortion law. "These insights into the social dynamics in Argentina turned out to be very valuable throughout the rest of the journey, for instance during other meetings." said Jan Willem, co-organizer of the trip.
Personal stories from Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo
The visit to the NGO Abuelas has also made a great impact on them. The NGO represents the mothers who saw their children disappear during the reign of General Videla and whose grandchildren were often born in prison before their children were killed. The grandchildren of these abuelas were then accommodated by prominent people in the ruling regime. Jan Willem: "In recent years, this NGO has been committed to reuniting grandchildren with their grandparents, while the children often believed to have been growing up with their natural parents." During this appointment we spoke with two victims of the Videla regime and grandchildren of the Abuelas, the story they told was very impressive and powerful. "