One of the sites proposed by the National Victims Committee to build a memorial museum is the Manuela Science Police District. Photo: Diego Pallero / El Comersio

With a Bullets Upstairs Head And in another Heart. So he was extrajudicially killed Ricardo Antonio Merino SerranoOn the morning of June 28, 1986. He was 26 years old and commanded Circle South of the rebel group Alfaro Viv Carazo (AVC).

36 years have passed since that day and his sister, Clara Merino, In the case of his brother, did not give up trying to find the truth, justice, compensation and non-repetition. He has worked alongside members National Victim Committee Other cases that were visible were included in the report presented by Truth commission.

In the end Legal action Edited by the committee in conjunction with the Regional Human Rights Advisory Foundation (Inredh), a motion of non-compliance by the Museum of Memory, Constitutional court.

In December 2013, it was included Official registry of law To compensate the victims and bring them to justice for serious violations Human rights And crimes against humanity, which occurred in Ecuador between October 4, 1983, and December 31, 2008.

The second provision of this law is established within 90 days Ministry of Culture Start creating a museum of memory; Dedicated place for recording and remembering victims of serious human rights violations and crimes against humanity. It hurts humanity.

Since the law came Official Register Nine years have passed, and the country still has no museum of memory; Something that seems to remain unchanged Brief And medium term. Alfonso EspinosaThe Under-Secretary of Social Memory of the Ministry of Culture confirmed to this newspaper that there is currently no budget for the physical construction of this repository of memory.

On the basis of consideration MerinoWhat is not there is one Willpower Policy for Physical creation This is it Museum. He maintains that these and previous governments had the funds to do this, but they chose to spend it on events or other venues, such as Hall Museum.

“I think it’s terrible that this legal obligation has not yet been met and we are continuing without a museum where people can see, hear and understand what happened to so many people, the torture they suffered and how their human rights were violated. ”

Espinosa explains that there are two things Advice, One by Hernan Reyes for the Ministry of Culture, and the other by Ivette Sally for the ombudsman’s office; As well as A virtual museum projectWhich they hope will be ready in the first half of this year.

East Virtual Museum Being developed by Pablo Escandan, Professor at Andean University. It will contain information on five symbolic cases, including Susanna Casas, Consuelo Benavides, Diego Delgado, brothers Santiago and Andres Restrepo and Gustavo Garzan.

Former Quito Regiment

That space is one National Victim Committee The museum proposed the creation of the barracks where SIC 10 was conducted and where the Manuela Sáenz Police District operates today; Merino made it clear that they were always open to opening museums elsewhere.

In 2017, the then Minister of Culture, Andres Arouz, and the Minister of the Interior, Pedro Solinus, signed an inter-institutional agreement to use the space to house the Museum of Memory.

However, Espinosa assured that he had been with the officials since the last conversation Ombudsman And Ministry of Government It is not possible to open a museum in this place. What he expects is that this year a wing or a corner of the building will be adapted to place a memorial there.

Relatives of the victims of the Human Rights Collective and Pharmacy lawsuits, who visited the Guass Prosecutor’s Office in 2015 and took a position. Photo: File / EL Commerce

Francisco Estevez: ‘We must recognize the right to memory as a human right’

In 12 years, Chile’s Museum of Memory and Human Rights has become a must-see in the region. Prior to the epidemic, 200,000 people, including citizens and foreigners, visited the exhibition each year. Francisco Estevez, the company’s executive director, spoke to EL COMERCIO about the site.

Francis Estevez. Chilean Catholic University historian said.

How was the Chilean Memorial Museum born?

Human rights groups have demanded that what happened during the years of the dictatorship be made public. The state decision to open the museum came from former President Michelle Bachelet; He took the initiative to promote the creation of this museum.

What collections are there and how were they formed?

Museum collections were created primarily from museum funds that were distributed through contributions from state agencies and individuals. These are documentary collections that form evidence of this human rights violation. Since the museum was established, both Chile and the international community have had a lasting intention to include social struggles for the protection of human rights during the dictatorship.

What is the relationship of the relatives of the victims with the museum? Do you work with that community?

There is a permanent working relationship with the relatives of the missing and with the group of relatives on the political death penalty. Similarly, we always try to strengthen that link in a more permanent way, through existing memory sites and memorabilia across the country.

How will the new generation understand what they see in this museum?

This is a very interesting work, because what we do permanently is a dialogue between the situations of human rights violations that took place in the years of dictatorship and what is happening now. The museum now welcomes the great demands for human rights violations that exist today. We handle ourselves by theme year; 2022 Dedicated to the theme ‘Memory and Feminism’. Therefore, our work contains a full dialogue with the current rise associated with the feminist movement, which seeks to claim women’s rights and at the same time condemn the culture of masculinity.

From what you’ve seen over the years, how do people react when they visit a museum?

I must tell you that the museum is visited by thousands of people. Before the epidemic, 200,000 came every year. Experiences are different and it has to do with seeing and where the public comes from. But I feel that everyone came with the intention of rediscovering the truth of what happened in Chile; Then I feel that there is a feeling of immense solidarity with those who have been the victims of their rights being violated.

Why is it important for a country to have a memorial museum?

Significance lies in the fact that it helps to recognize the right to memory as a human right. That right, when exercised by people, makes them citizens of memory. It is the duty of the state to respect this right, remembering that it is a public responsibility and a right to memory, which is the right of all human beings.

What would you recommend to countries like Ecuador where there are still no memorial museums?

Get started. Rights must be exercised and duties must be performed. I will start by creating a dialogue commission, which allows to define the features of this place; That it must be plural and committed to the right to memory. There are museums of memory in Chile, Peru, Argentina, Colombia and the question is why there are no museums of memory in Ecuador.

Francisco Estevez

Chilean Catholic University historian said. UNESCO-Mandajit Singh Award for Promoting Tolerance and Non-Violence. Worked in non-governmental organization.

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