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Inaugurated in February, 2004, in the Sopocachi neighborhood of La Paz, Bolivia, this unique park is dedicated to the memory of students and others who were “disappeared” during the dictatorship of Hugo Banzer Suárez in the 1970’s. It is named for José Carlos Trujillo, a 21-year-old student leader at the University Mayor de San Andrés in La Paz.

Trujillo was detained December 23, 1971, in the city of Santa Cruz, four months after Banzer assumed power. Along with two others, Trujillo disappeared from the Santa Cruz jail in February, 1972.

In the words of ASOFAMD, one of the park’s sponsors, its goal is “to remind young people who did not live through this period of the struggle of so many Bolivian men and women who offered their lives without considering the consequences or counting the cost.” The park includes portraits of thirty-seven “desaparecidos,” or disappeared ones.

The Banzer regime is blamed for at least 3,000 political arrests, many involving torture, and hundreds of murders and disappearances. Trujillo’s mother, Gladys Oroza de Solón, took her son’s case to the Interamerican Court in 1999, leading to a judgment in 2000 requiring the state to pay compensation.

ASOFAMD (Asociación de Familiares de Desaparecidos y Mártires por la Liberación) is the Plaza's other sponsor. “In its effort to oppose impunity and the eradication of memory, in spite of the passage of time, ASOFAMD insists that ‘a people without a memory is a people without a history’.”

About the Artist

Pablo Mendoza created the park’s murals from sketches by his teacher, Walter Solón Romero (1932–1999), an important Bolivian artist and founder of the Fundación Solón, one of the Plaza’s sponsors. The Solón Foundation focuses on recovering the voices of those most oppressed and discriminated against. “Social art is the spirit that moves the activities of the Foundation.”

Photos by Ben Achtenberg
Research & Translations by Monica Aldana