Last November 17th 2020, in the context of the activities related to the ESMA Museum and Site of Memory’s candidacy to the UNESCO World Heritage List, Executive Director of the ESMA Museum and Site of Memory Alejandra Naftal participated in the webinar “Perspectives and Challenges for Policies on Memory and Truth” organized by the Secretary of Social Protection, Justice, Citizenship, Women and Human Rights (SPS) of the Government of the State of Ceará and the Regional University of Cariri (Urca), together with the Fortaleza City Hall and the Frei Tito de Alencar Lima Memory Center in Brazil.
A guest speaker on the creation of the Museum and its candidacy, Naftal shared a panel with Paulo Abrão, a PhD in Law and former Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH). The activity also featured different speakers about Memory processes in the region, like Socorro França, head of the SPS, Lúcia Rodrigues Alencar, educator and head of institutional relations at the Human Rights Coordination of that office, and Francisco do o Lima Junior, rector of Urca.
“We are very interested in organizing these meetings, as they allow us to deepen our knowledge on the Transitional Justice processes. We need to learn a little more about our past and the importance of places of memory as spaces that preserve history and strengthen democracy”, said the moderator Rodrigues Alencar, who appreciated the opportunity to learn about details of the ESMA Museum and Site of Memory’s application.
In turn, França stressed that this type of virtual meeting “helps the public to reflect on past issues that have implications for the countries’ future” and stated that “it is essential that people know the history and have a critical view of it as an exercise of citizenship ”. In addition, the official highlighted the fight for Memory, Truth and Justice that is taking place in Argentina and reinforced the need “of having States that strengthen these public policies”.
For his part, Francisco do o Lima Junior highlighted the role of universities in creating dialogue platforms that contribute to deepening the issue of Human Rights and stated “the importance of generating tools to confront conservative and intolerant discourses and build more truth”.
In her turn, and as part of the presentations, Naftal gave an account of the process that led to the creation of the ESMA Museum and Site of Memory, the necessary steps to provide international visibility to the crimes against humanity committed by the civic-military dictatorship and the exemplary justice process achieved by Human Rights organizations. “This project represents all the Sites of Memory in Argentina but also in Latin America. This is a chance to be a beacon in the processes of Memory for our entire region”, he stated.
To close, Paulo Abrão proposed “working on a Latin American integration through memory as an instrument of solidarity”. Regarding the nomination of the ESMA Museum and Site of Memory to the World Heritage List, Abrão said: “It is very exciting because it reflects the struggle of the Argentine people and the elaboration made by the Human Rights movement, who appropriated that place and transformed it into a space of creation that is unique ”.