BUENOS AIRES – Argentina’s government will replace the heliport on the rooftop of the presidential palace – the scene of dramatic moments in the nation’s history – with a garden.
The Casa Rosada is making that change to join the global “green roofs” initiative, sources with President Mauricio Macri’s office told EFE, referring to an eco-friendly campaign that has led to legislation being passed in different parts of the world.
The garden on the roof of the Casa Rosada will be hydroponic, meaning it will use a nutrient-rich water solution to grow plants instead of soil, Fernando de Andreis, secretary-general of the president’s office, said in a press release.
The change marks the permanent end of the presidential palace’s heliport, which has not been used in several years but was the site of historic moments in Argentine history.
In one event still etched in the memories of many Argentines, Isabel Martinez de Peron, the then-president and widow of former head of state Juan Peron, boarded a helicopter on March 24, 1976, that was to have taken her to the presidential residence on the outskirts of the Argentine capital.
But shortly after take-off the helicopter’s route was changed due to a supposed mechanical problem and it instead landed at a military base at the Buenos Aires airport.
She was informed there that she had been removed from office, a coup that marked the coming to power of a brutal military regime that ruled until 1983 and presided over a “dirty war” against the Argentine left that involved the murder of as many as 30,000 people and the torture of tens of thousands more.
The heliport was the site of another dramatic event on Dec. 20, 2001, when Fernando de la Rua resigned the presidency amid an economic meltdown and deadly rioting and hastily fled by helicopter from the rooftop of the Casa Rosada.
But now that historic ground will be used to grow eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, herbs and leafy vegetables as part of a global initiative aimed at improving air quality in large cities.