Hispanic Studies at the 2018 Summer Research Showcase: Declassifying Videla’s Argentina

Monroe Research Showcase (cropped)

The Monroe research grants allow students to explore anything that interests them. For many, it is a way to start answering a question that came to them in class. For nearly all who undertake a project, we end the summer with more questions than we started with. Last week, we all came together to discuss these questions and conclusions at the summer research showcase.

My name is Jo Weech, and I am a junior here at the College. I am a Monroe research grant recipient and a Hispanic Studies major. I chose to use my Monroe grant to make my involvement with the National Security Archive research team possible.

William & Mary has been running a research internship with the Archive for several years. Students attend weekly classes with a Hispanic Studies professor, Silvia Tandeciarz, and an expert from the Archive, Carlos Osorio. All of the work with the Archive’s documents is done remotely via digital databases. To begin the internship, we first learned about the Cold War and the last Argentine dictatorship. We then started working with the documents.

Those documents we were working with involve declassified diplomatic cables from different U.S. agencies. Our job was to try to find evidence of human rights violations, as well as piece together a history of what happened. Our research will begin again this coming spring semester. I was able to complete this research while studying abroad in La Plata, Argentina. It was especially meaningful to be able to read about events happening and then to be able to go and see where they actually occured. One of the moments of repression we discussed with the research team was La noche de los lápices (The night of the pencils), as an example of violence against students. Below is a picture that I took in La Plata of benches painted in dedication to those student victims:

monroe_weech

For me, the research was especially important because it is related to the work that I see myself doing after graduation. I hope to find a career that will promote human rights, possibly as a Foreign Service Officer. The tools and opportunities that the Hispanic Studies program has already given me will be instrumental in finding that career. I hope that my involvement with this research project will be long lasting, as we are writing a history that needs to be written.

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