Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina. April 2007.
I had just arrived in Buenos Aires, the first stop on my round-the-world gap year which put thousands of kilometres between me and my family. In between exploring fabulous tango bars, learning some Spanish and feasting on huge chunks of meat, I visited the Plaza de Mayo, the square in the centre of the city facing the Presidential Palace. There I found the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, dressed in white headscarves and waving blue and white flags, continuing a weekly march for justice which had lasted for 30 years.
The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo) is an association of Argentine mothers whose children were “disappeared” under the military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983. Estimates on the amount of people who were “disappeared” during this time range from 9,000 and 30,000. Three founders of the association are amongst those who went missing.
Despite the risks, these women had gathered and marched to draw attention to their missing sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, in defiance of government silence on the fates of their loved ones. Their weekly marches helped put pressure on government to reform laws which allow prosecution of war crimes, including for stealing babies of the disappeared. The Mothers have also traced hundreds of babies of the disappeared who were taken and adopted out.
The courage and dedication of these women, and their collaborative work to honour their lost family members, continues to inspire me.