Thursday, 19 July 2012

A Day About Books .....

Yesterday when I was out for a walk, I happened upon a Children's Book Festival taking place in a converted church.  There was an iron gate, and a security guard, but I managed to talk my way inside.  It was beautiful.  A storyteller was entertaining a group of parents and children, and off to the side was "Bibliotech De Libros Fantasticos."

(Please forgive any of my translation errors throughout this blog. I mean no disrespect.)

"The bread of each day"
"He has left his book to take charge of their history"

"The garden was in bloom and the palabrero went by seas of God"

"There is history capable of stopping time"

"White field; Black flowers; A plow and five mares"

"Book of the Truth. Censored."

Way too much to translate.....

We all have to stop at some point and this book too.  De que huia?

 "The Dream of My Child" 
The dream of my child, who is travelling
The dream of my child, you are walking.

It was beautiful and inspiring.  So I thanked the security guard who let me in and walked a few minutes downtown to San Martin Plaza and got talking to a lady from Georgia who told me about El Museo de la Memoria, which is a memorial to "The Disappeared" from the Dirty War from 1976 - 1983, when a military dictatorship took over the government, dissolved the parliament, and ruled with an iron fist. The museum is located on a side street off of the square, in a building that served as a secret detention centre for interrogation and torture.  In Argentina, over 136,000 people were arrested, sent to prisons all over Cordoba, and many were never seen again.  Most of them were young students, teachers, professionals ........ anyone that the government considered a threat.  Student organizations and teachers unions were banned; the president of the teachers' union and his brother were shot dead in the union office.  In one room they had copies of letters that were sent out to school districts with lists of banned books, and photographs of teachers who were arrested.   In another, you could look at copies of some of the banned books. Children's books were banned "Por Fantasia Ilimitada" - for unlimited fantasy. After the stark reality of the detention centre, the bookroom was a colourful return to what is possible today.

This book, The Cube Tower, was banned because "serious shortcomings as social ideological symbolism confuse questions, objectives unsuitable to the fact, aesthetic, fantasy unlimited ...... leading to the destruction of traditional values ​​of our culture"  It was a pre-primer reader, a collection of short stories for beginning readers. Now you can buy it online at

It was hard to comprehend that only thirty years ago the "Bibliotech De Libros Fantasticos" would have been illegal; artists and organizers trying to plan such an event would have been arrested, and those attending would have been seen as a threat to the national culture.

It was a very emotional and moving experience to visit this memorial, and hard to put the impact into words. 

Photos of some of The Disappeared

An explanation of the artwork outside at the entrance to El Museo de la Memoria. The artist used the names of those detained at this centre to create fingerprints.  This was one of over 20 centres in Cordoba province; in Argentina, there were over 300 detention centres.

Memory, Truth, Justice

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