In the 1970s, a lot of people were taken and most likely killed under the administration at the time. They were called “the disappeared” or los desaparecidos. Demonstrations and gatherings of more than 2 people were banned at the time but epople knew they had to take action. How could they do this without disappearing themselves?
A group eventually called “Madres/Abuelas de la Plaza del Mayo” began gathering at 3pm every Thursday at the Plaza del Mayo, which is right in front of the Casa Rosada, the Presidential Office. Gathering would be the wrong word though, as of course this was not permitted.
The group began walking around the center monument, with scarves tied around their nects. These scarves were the diaper cloths that are used for babies, signifying the conneciton to their children who had disappeared.
The first five walkers were sent to concentration camps, then killed, to send a message to the group but they would not back down. Each week, the Madres countined to peacefully walk around the plaza.
As some of the women who disappeared were pregnant, many of the madres (now abuelas/grandmothers) wondered what happened to their grandchildren as well.
Finally years later, answers came. At the time, the babies were adopted by politicians, military people, etc. basically any of the people in power. The madres/abuelas set up a DNA databas to find their lost children/grandchildren. They put out advertisements to people, providing an age range and asking them to submit their DNA to find their true identity.
Imagine the struggle for these people though… They are stripped from their mother at birht and placed with a prominent family. The only family they’ve ever known who have theoretically loved and cared for them throughout their life. And now they could find out that these people, their parents, are the “bad guys.”
Would you do it? Could you do it? Some have.
Over 120 of these people have been found. Recently a leader’s grandson was found which helped to increase the number of people checking.
On my Aerolineas Argentina flight, there was an advertisement in the flaps of my snack box asking “Do you know your identity?” with informaiton on how to find out more.
It gave me goosebumps. In my college Spanish film class, we watched a move about the Desaparecidos from the point of view of a political leader’s wife who has loved and cared for her daughter since birth. Then she found out about Las Madres de la Plaza del Mayo and she confronts her husband and seeks out more information. It gave me goosebumps as well.
Currently painted around the center statue of the Plaza is a circle, showing the walking path, and the outline of the scarves worn by the Madres.