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Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo say goodbye to historic Bonafini

Buenos Aires (EFE)” in a lawsuit about children missing during the last military dictatorship (1976-1983).

Thousands of people, including social, political and self-proclaimed organizations, came to the Plaza de Mayo to accompany other Mothers, paying tribute to Bonafini, a tireless fighter and always at the center of controversy.

The atmosphere was filled with jubilation, song and applause as his remains were buried around the Mayo Pyramid, adorned with images of Bonafini, Argentinean flags and white handkerchiefs.

Members of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo organization gather to say goodbye to their president, Hebe de Bonafini, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. EFE/ Enrique Garcia Medina

The president of the Mothers organization (1928–2022) died in the Italian hospital of La Plata in the province of Buenos Aires, after spending several days in the hospital due to the severity of chronic diseases.

However, she now rests with the association’s other founder, Azucena Villaflor, an activist who was kidnapped, tortured and killed by state terrorism on death flights.

With the arrival of columns of protesters who came to show their “affection for Hebe”, the main action began, with songs in her memory being sung from the stage, and a proclamation in her honor was raised by the group Priests Option for the Poor.

Members of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo organization gather to say goodbye to their president, Hebe de Bonafini, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. EFE/ Enrique Garcia Medina

“My dear Hebe, our dear Hebe. We are not going to lie to you, in our hearts there is pain and tears in our eyes, but do not be sad, we did not come to say goodbye to you, we came to march, because we can only go on.

Bonafini’s sons, Jorge Omar (1950) and Raul Alfredo (1953), disappeared during the early years of the dictatorship in power, causing her and dozens of other mothers to move to the Casa Rosada (seat of the executive) in search of their loved ones .

The creation of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in 1977 laid the foundation for becoming the main symbol of the opposition to the civil-military authorities and the greatest spokesman for the struggle for human rights in Argentina, turning the white scarf on their heads into a global icon.

The woman who made history

Members of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo organization gather to say goodbye to their president, Hebe de Bonafini, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. EFE/ Enrique Garcia Medina

In the crowd, Juan José Gutux, a high school history teacher, told EFE that he was present at the farewell because he was a very important person for the events that took place in the South American country.

“She was a housewife who knew nothing about politics until her children were taken from her. He had an unwavering career after the dictatorship, and at times he was very elevated. It was a whirlwind of honesty and courage that moved a man. She was a constituted symbol,” he said.

Human rights organizations estimate that some 30,000 people have been detained, tortured and disappeared forever as a result of state terrorism.

Members of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo organization gather to say goodbye to their president, Hebe de Bonafini, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. EFE/ Enrique Garcia Medina

“In order for the figure of the missing to be acceptable, they have been treated many times as good guys who want to change the world. Which was true, but for that they were militants, some revolutionaries and other armed partisans,” Gutuks explained.

“A lot of times they didn’t want to go along with it because it was a way to cloud them and justify state terrorism.”

Juan José Gutuks

For her part, Olga Sandoval, also a retired teacher and director of high schools, stressed to EFE the importance of Bonafini’s struggle site, who as a woman was “encouraged to resist military and international force.”

Members of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo organization gather to say goodbye to their president, Hebe de Bonafini, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. EFE/ Enrique Garcia Medina

“It showed that these powers can break their arms in pain and the realization that they are not fighting alone, because together with others it is possible to move through the system and return to democracy,” he said.

Sandoval, like many other Argentines of the time, was intimately familiar with military repression, as his own neighbors, who belonged to the Montoneros guerrilla group, were kidnapped and still do not know their whereabouts.

“I had young neighbors who belonged to the Montoneros and worked with children in poor neighborhoods, teaching them the history of Argentina. The mothers of those boys did not dare to claim them, because they were very afraid. The police broke down the doors of their houses several times during the searches,” he said.

By Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org