ARGENTINA: 30 years resisting and 30,000 reasons to continue struggling


Walter Yoia, Buenos Aires

On March 24, more than 100,000 people moved toward the Plaza de Mayo, made famous by the mothers of the disappeared who, along with unions, human rights organisations, students and people from all walks of life, demanded justice for the murderous acts of the military regime that led to the darkest hours of the country 30 years ago when 30,000 people were taken away, never to be found.

The plaza was not was not large enough and people spilled over into nearby streets. The head of the march took a few hours to reach the front of the stage, with a banner with the photos of the disappeared that stretched two blocks (around 200m). The crowd chanted "Mother of the plaza, the people embrace you" and responded with screams of "present, now and always" in remembrance of the disappeared. The demonstration was one of the largest ever on this infamous date, now made a public holiday by President Nestor Kirchner.

On March 24, 1976, the bloodiest military regime in Argentina's history took power, systematically kidnapping, torturing and killing a whole section of the left, militant unionists and anyone suspected by the military or police — even the mothers of some of those who were disappeared. One would be kidnapped in the middle of the night, or day, by unregistered cars and taken to clandestine places to be tortured using the most deprived inhuman methods, and then most likely killed. It was also learned that many people were drugged and thrown from airplanes into rivers or the sea.

In spite of the fear and death that existed in those days, a group of women who desperately searched for their children and their grandchildren dared to defy the regime and let their search become known to the public. They came to be know as the Madres de Plaza de Mayo after their weekly Thursday rallies out the front of the presidential palace. Las Madres (the Mothers), as they are affectionately called, have taken on the struggles of their disappeared children, lending solidarity to any cause they can, most recently to the piqueteros, the occupied factory movements, the hungry and the poor.

From Green Left Weekly, March 29, 2006.
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