The “Mad” Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo

Thirty-five years ago, fourteen women arrived at the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, Argentina to silent walk in protest of the disappeared members of their families.

It was an act of great courage and thousands joined them for their weekly walk around the Plaza, each women with a white scarf around her head. They were called “locas” – mad – by their detractors. But these were the brave women who stood up in the face of repression when men – including church leaders were silent or even complicit with the repression. Only four Argentinian bishops clearly condemned the crimes of the Argentinian dictatorship.

Later committees of mothers of the disappeared appeared in other countries, for example, El Salvador.

Still there are too many unsolved cases in Latin America of the disappeared. Impunity still continues – and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo still march, I believe.

I just learned of this today from  notice of Radio Progreso here in Honduras. There is an article on the mothers by Philip McManus in the book he co-edited with Gerald Schlabach, Relentless Persistence: Nonviolent Action in Latin America, which I’ll read later today.

But here is a quote, on page 95 of that book, from one of the mothers that should inspire us in the struggle for justice:

Like all the mothers, I came to demonstrate to defend the life of my son. Today I can see further ahead. I don’t want another mother, in this country or in any other, to have to live through what I have. Beyond my personal case is the basic principle of the systematic use of repression and state terrorism as a method of government which I must denounce and combat.

Sad to say, many more mothers continue to suffer the disappearance and the death of their children and spouses.

May this violence cease and may we accompany the women in the struggle.


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