Saturday, 16 September, is the 30th anniversay of La Noche de los Lápiches (The Night of the Pencils), another sad but notable event from the most recent dictatorship in Argentina. Last year I wrote extensively about the march that took place on the 29th anniversary.
Since it’s the 30th anniversary there should be an equally large gathering. On the radio this morning I heard about a march planned for Friday evening at 6pm from Facultad to Plaza de Mayo. Today there is also a teachers strike at the University of Buenos Aires. I won’t be covering the march this year since I’ve made prior plans to hear a friend sing Celtic music.
Last year’s march was one of the largest that I saw in 2005. But last year there also was more tension between the piquetero groups and the police. Last year’s Night of the Pencils march was just one week after a very tense confrontation between piqueteros and police at the intersection of Av de Mayo and Av 9 de Julio. That march was originally planned to be an anti-Bush protest in anticipation of Bush’s visit to the summit in Mar del Plata. A large number of students were mixed in with the piquetero groups but the whole thing turned ugly when the police blocked Av de Mayo and pulled up the truck with the water cannon. It eventually ended in a few hardcore piqueteros throwing stones at the police while the other marchers walked away.
So, the following week on the 29th anniversary of the Night of the Pencils the turnout was enormous. The marchers made it to the plaza where I watched a number of young people (not piqueteros) paint graffiti on the monument in the middle of Plaza de Mayo.
The monument was quickly repainted by the next morning. Tonight’s march should be interesting but not as exciting as last year. I don’t know if there are any commemorative activities planned for Saturday, the actual anniversary. (People here seem to like to march on Fridays).
As disturbing as history
The entry has been updated but see this link for an older version of the entry on La Noche de los Lápiches that claims la noche de los lápices was invented by terrorist organizations and that the seven youths who were kidnapped by the government on 16 September 1976 were actually terrorists. What is disturbing is that this viewpoint that the military government of 1976-1983 was in a struggle against terrorism is still accepted among certain parts of Argentine society. Admittedly, Argentina during the 1960s-1970s is a very complicated history – one that everyone needs to reflect upon.