Sunday, 8 August 2010

Argentina: Street Name Changes for Bs. As.

A judge has ordered the city of Buenos Aires to change the names of the streets and public places named after dictatorship officials. Judge Elena Liberatori noted that the autonomous city's laws already stated that:
"en ningún caso deberán designarse calles o lugares públicos con nombres de autoridades nacionales, provinciales o municipales que hayan ejercido su función por actos de fuerza contra el orden constitucional y el sistema democrático”
[under no circumstances may a street or public place be designated with the names of national, provincial or municipal officials who carried out their role because of an act of force against constitutional order and the democratic system]
She commented,
"There is no doubt that the continuing existence of names in the city which allude to former officials of de facto government is in clear contradiction of the law, and therefore the orders which gave rise to these names of public spaces are unconstitutional." [cited in Observatorio de derechos humanos]
So the city of Buenos Aires must act to ensure that in the future, there are no streets, squares, or avenues named after de facto officials. The lawyer, Hansel Stegemann, who brought the case told Pagina/12 that there were around 10 such streets, plus two schools and a few squares. They include the streets Intendente Guerrico, Capitán Claudio H. Rosales, Mecánico Militar Leopoldo Atenzo, Cadete Carlos Larguia and Soldado Miguel Santi. It's not as simple as finding a 'Videla Street' somewhere - something as blatant as that would have caused an outcry years ago. In many cases, the 1976-1983 military regime chose street names which honoured previous dictatorships, in particular the one which took over in 1930.

This issue may seem rather trivial, but I think it's an interesting example of purging the remains of military rule from the public face of the urban landscape. And, as Stegemann comments,
"It's ridiculous that while we are judging the members of the de facto governments for their human rights we carry on complying with the rules which they created".

The city could still appeal against the decision, although I really wonder why it would bother. So maybe Argentina's capital will be seeing some shiny new name plaques on its streets soon.

La Justicia ordenó sacar de las calles, plazas y escuelas, los nombres de los funcionarios de facto (Observatorio de derechos humanos)
Ordena jueza argentina rebautizar calles que remiten a la dictadura (Provincia)
"Son cerca de diez calles" (Pagina/12)

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