Human Rights in Argentina

8 Credit Hours

This track allows students to learn about the vibrant history of human rights struggles in Argentina with an emphasis on the current emergence of new disputes and social conflicts that are giving birth to new social and political rights. Spanish 385 engages students in theoretical class discussions focused on social, economic and political issues that influence Argentina's current vision of human rights. As a historical point of departure, students are guided through the political and armed conflicts that took place in the country during the last presidency of Juan Domingo Perón and the ensuing military dictatorship spanning between 1976 and 1983. Students enrolled in this track also take Spanish 309, a course dealing with urban history and culture that provides students with the necessary background to further understand the context in which the concept of human rights has developed across multiple sectors of Argentine society. To extend in-class instruction to the level of praxis, students are also enrolled in Spanish 319, a cutting-edge course designed to expose participants to on-site cultural activities taking place across the city.

As an integral part of this track, students participate in guided visits to former illegal detention centers that are now museums devoted the to memory of the disappeared during Argentina’s last military dictatorship. The three classes of this track expose students to different aspects of the history of the Mothers of the Disappeared (Madres de Plaza de Mayo) and their long-standing struggle against impunity. In the context of class discussion and field trips, students also become familiarized with the fluctuating public policies that have been implemented since the inception of democracy in 1983, when the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons (CONADEP) was formed to investigate the disappearance of thousands of people. Though high ranking officers were tried and condemned for crimes against humanity in 1985, they were later pardoned by a general amnesty during the presidential administration of Carlos Menem. The Human Rights track also tackles the emergence of Kirchnersim in 2003 (first with Néstor Kirchner, and later with current President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner) and the annulment of the amnesty laws by the Supreme Court of Justice, which led to a vast array of trials and incarcerations over the past ten years. Essential to this line of inquiry are the children of disappeared parents who were illegally appropriated by military officers and later illegally adopted by families connected with the military forces. Many of these children, now in their thirties, were able to recover their identity and become acquainted with their true life history by consulting the DNA banks maintained by the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo.

Students of this track will also study the ways in which the scope of human rights extend to present-day debates and struggles that seek to grant equality to multiple sectors of Argentine society that extend beyond the bloodshed of the 1970s. Some of these alternative paths of intellectual inquiry include the emergence of LGTB struggles in the 1980s, and the Equal Marriage Act (Ley de Matrimonio Igualitario) passed by the Argentine Congress in 2010. Other issues involve the precarious situation of the Indigenous peoples in Argentina, as well as the pervasive discrimination that still exists against immigrants from neighboring countries. Courses in this track also explore debates on women and gender rights, including the Gender Identity Act (Ley de Identidad de Género) passed in 2012, which enables individuals to register the name and gender of their choice. Taking these courses will allow students to learn about the ongoing political discussions dealing with policies aimed at guaranteeing full legal protection to disabled individuals (personas con capacidades especiales), as well as preserving the rights of children, adolescents, and elders in Argentina.