BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA – Blue skies and sunshine are the backdrop at the Plaza de Mayo. The atmosphere sheds beautiful light on the city of Buenos Aires, but today the mood is solemn.
The mothers of the disappeared have met to protest every Thursday afternoon since 1977. They are the parents of lost patriots who proclaim their children are simply missing, not deceased.
From 1976-83 the Argentine nation was under a military dictatorship called the “Dirty War.” This military exercise claimed it was out to rid Argentina of the citizens, “trying to destroy the Christian and Western values of society.” In this process, tens of thousands of Argentines disappeared. The guerrillas were abducted and tortured in concentration camps. These women who protest once a week are the mothers of the disappeared.
The mothers, and few fathers, of the disappeared march around the Statue of Independence with pictures of their lost sons or daughters. Each name is called out. The hustle and bustle resonating of metropolitan Buenos Aires is drowned out with the simple group chant “presente” as each name is called to signify that the person named is, indeed, there in spirit.
Most of the elderly women have scarves on their heads with their children’s names and birthdays embroidered on the white cloth.
The atmosphere is uncompromising; no one could paint a better picture. Like a funeral marching into the churchyard, the continual protest is a somber reminder of what Argentina once was, and where it stands today.