They are the two most emblematic human rights organizations in Argentina that were born after the 1976 coup d’état and the establishment of the military dictatorship led by Jorge Videla and Emilio Massera, among others.
Argentine human rights organizations and emblems of the fight against state terrorism (1976-1983)
The group of mothers met for the first time in 1977, in the Plaza de Mayo, to demand a meeting with the ruling military guilt and to obtain information about their illegally detained and disappeared children.
Subsequently, and after the cruel advance of the dictatorial regime, they began to fight for the recovery of their children, the prosecution, and sentencing for crimes against humanity of all the military personnel responsible for the crimes against humanity perpetrated against them.
The white scarves on the head, and the weekly march on Thursdays around the Plaza de Mayo, were and are its distinctive signs and that acquired the status of symbols.
The military regime called the National Reorganization Process would have made some 9,000 people disappear according to the statistics verified by CONADEP (National Commission on Disappeared Persons), however, for many that figure is small and they speak of the possibility of some thirty one thousand.
Mothers on the move who gave their lives for their children
Although the dictatorship began to persecute them, when their protests became increasingly noisy, and many of them were even disappeared as their children, they never gave up on their purposes and to this day they continue to fight for justice and to know which it was the final destination of his relatives.
The Madres group was divided into two internal currents, on the one hand, the group led by Hebe de Bonafini, and on the other, the founding line led by Marta Vásquez.
Bonafini is without a doubt the most popular member of mothers, but also the most controversial because of her extreme political positions and her hyper violent statements towards some political leaders with whom she does not agree.
The grandmothers and their inexhaustible search to restore the missing grandchildren
For their part, the grandmothers emerged later and focused on the claim for their missing relatives, but also for their grandchildren, whom they did not know because their daughters-in-law or daughters were detained during their gestation and held them in captivity.
An enormous number of women gave birth to their children in clandestine detention and extermination centers, where in addition to illegally holding them, they were tortured.
The grandmothers organization has developed an effective method of investigation and thanks to it they have managed to restore 128 grandchildren who disappeared during the dictatorship, who were unlawfully handed over to adoptive families, and who were mostly unaware of their origins.
The DNA study was and is crucial when it comes to identifying the alleged grandchildren.
The organization has several very discreet means of contact, to which queries can be made if someone has doubts about their identity.
In 2014, and with the number 114, the grandson of the most emblematic member was restored: Ignacio Montoya Carlotto, grandson of Estela Carlotto.
After the democratic restoration, and in the following years, both groups played a crucial role in identifying victims and survivors of the dictatorship, as well as in seeking justice, punishment, and compensation for survivors and relatives. .
A political approach that removed them from popular consideration
In 2003, with the assumption of Néstor Kirchner as president and then during the two presidencies of his wife Cristina Fernández, both associations enjoyed unprecedented relevance, granting them public money items to finance their activities and projects, such as radio, university and the house construction plan that the mothers managed with Bonafini at the helm.
Said construction project was suspended amid a scandal over allegations of corruption.
The end of the Kirchner government meant the end of many privileges that these institutions enjoyed, and this added to the change of political sign, opened a strong dispute and a tense relationship with the government of Mauricio Macri, especially by Bonafini, who has attacked with violent epithets Macri and his family.
In the former ESMA (School of Mechanics of the Navy), which was one of the main clandestine detention centers, today there is a space dedicated to the memory of all those disappeared during the dictatorship, which is managed by both groups, and whose main The end is Don’t Forget and keep raising the banner of justice.
Although the aforementioned associations have enjoyed local and international recognition and respect since their creation, it cannot be ignored that in the years of the Kirchner government they enjoyed many privileges, which led them to align themselves politically with the movement, but they certainly lost autonomy and the respect that had stood out in the past.
Many Argentines today reproach their activities, especially those of Mothers, for the bad image that Hebe de Bonafini has garnered in recent years, entangled in cases of corruption and money laundering, and for her highly controversial, xenophobic, and violent statements.