2011-07-13

Marching with the Madres de Plaza de Mayo

Written by Leila Barzegar
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From 1976 to 1983, a brutal military junta controlled Argentina and terrorized its citizens through a systematic campaign of kidnapping, torturing, and murdering anyone even resembling a government dissenter. Beginning in 1977, the mothers and grandmothers of those who simply "disappeared" (the vast majority of the 30,000 were very young; many were pregnant) began a weekly march in the main square of Buenos Aires, the Plaza de Mayo, in front of the presidential palace, demanding to know their children's whereabouts. Although the group's founders were also subsequently tortured and murdered, the Mothers continued walking, even after the junta was brought down. For 35 years they have marched every Thursday at 3:30 pm, and this past week my friends and I joined them.  

I’ll admit that at first watching this group of elderly women march around a pretty small plaza didn’t completely inspire me like I had imagined it would.  But after looking at the expression on their faces, the people of all ages and backgrounds marching behind them, and the signs they held with pictures of the disappeared, I began to fully understand the significance of their weekly marches.  In a time when human rights are violated all over the world and are simply overlooked, these passionate women and their followers set an unprecedented example of social activism.

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