Thursday, 3 pm, Plaza de Mayo. There is hardly a bigger contrast imaginable than between the Barbie clones with their facelifts and Gucci sunglasses strolling around Buenos Aires' public parks and the very down-to-earth somber mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.
These women wear white head scarves embroidered with the names of their missing children. There are only 40 of the mothers, and one wonders, what can these poor helpless old women possibly achieve when faced with Buenos Aires, a city of 12 million people who all act as if they don’t exist?
Office workers are passing by without giving them as much as a look, while the mothers carry banners with slogans like ‘Those who accept compensation money prostitute themselves,’ or, ‘The mass killers deserve punishment!’ In silence the brave women make their rounds in the square, as they have been doing every Thursday for more than 20 years now.
They are joined by a group of noisy students from Europe and at first we are horrified by their seemingly inappropriate behavior, but then we see some of them cry. They have suddenly realized that each of these women has lost a child in the Dirty War (1976-1983). Children who were loved and raised to become independent, albeit maybe a little radically thinking human beings who stood up against injustice.
To realize that these children were abducted and possibly tortured, raped, and eventually murdered, is mind boggling. As if losing their children wasn’t enough, these women were faced with another blow; the knowledge that the people responsible for their children’s deaths would go unpunished.
During the Dirty War society knew about the censorship, the repression and even the torture, accounts of which were published in the papers of 1976. This history is something Argentines would rather forget. That is, except for the mothers.
Using a small microphone a mother shouts angry words at the Casa Rosada, the pink government building from which Argentina’s leaders such as Juan and Eva Peron once addressed cheering crowds. But now the Buenos Aires square is empty, apart from a sightseeing bus with tourists, who quickly take a picture from behind the glass and continue on their way to the next highlight.
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