A Department of Human Rights official was removed from her post on Sunday after a video surfaced where she can be seen dancing on top of a desk at the former ESMA detention center during an end of the year celebration.
In a press release issued after the video went viral, the Department of Human Rights stated that “after watching an official exhibiting improper behavior in this space dedicated to memorializing history during an end of the year celebration in the area in which she works, Secretary Claudio Avruj requested her immediate resignation, which was presented today [on Sunday].”
“The Department of Human Rights wants to underscore once more that the Space for Memory and Human Rights (former ESMA) is a place that, because of its tragic and painful history, must be one of reflection and respect for all society. Because of this, the officials working in it must have, more than anyone, the appropriate decorum when fulfilling their tasks. Aware of this situation, the aforementioned measure was taken,” added the release, which didn’t make reference to the other people who appear to also be officials also seen dancing and drinking in the same place, only not on top of a desk.
During the last military dictatorship, the Navy Petty-Officers School of Mechanics (ESMA for its acronym in Spanish) served as a clandestine detention, torture and extermination center for those who the de facto government considered to be “subversive.’ Over 5,000 people were held there between 1976 and 1983, making it the largest clandestine detention center in the country. It is estimated that around 4,000 people were killed in the building while the spaces simultaneously served as a retreat for higher ranking military officers.
In 2004, the Government (under President Néstor Kirchner) took control of the center and transformed it into a “space for memory and human rights’ defense and promotion.” In 2008 UNESCO passed a resolution to set up an international center for human rights promotion there as well, that same year then-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner declared the space a historic national monument.
Dancing on top of a desk in most work environments falls on the less professional side of fun, but in a space with such a complicated history it was easily seen as being a step too far.