Argentine gov’t honors groups that struggled against 1976-1983 dictatorship

Buenos Aires, Mar 23 (efe-epa).- Argentina’s government on Tuesday honored three human rights groups for their efforts to bring attention to the 1976-1983 military dictatorship’s “dirty war” against political opponents.

The Families of the Disappeared and Detained for Political Reasons, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo were each awarded Juana Azurduy prizes on the eve of the 45th anniversary of the right-wing coup that overthrew President Isabel Peron and installed a military junta.

Among those on hand for the event at the Casa Rosada’s Bicentennial Museum were President Alberto Fernandez; Human Rights Secretary Horacio Pietragalla; the president of the Families of the Disappeared and Detained for Political Reasons organization, Lita Boitano; the head of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Founders Line, Taty Almeida; and the president of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Estela de Carlotto.

Seventy-one mothers and grandmothers from across the country also attended the event remotely and were recognized for their work in the struggle for “memory, truth and justice” for the roughly 30,000 people who, according to human rights organizations, disappeared during the dictatorship.

Fernandez hailed the courage of the award recipients, “who dared to do what the rest of society did not, (acting) in great solitude.”

“A group of mothers appeared one day in that society that was so terrified (and) began to stand up to the dictators, the genocidal killers, began asking them where their children were. With astonishment, we began to see the courage of those mothers,” the leftist head of state said.

Pietragalla, for his part, stressed the message of love delivered by these activists, saying they have always sought justice through the courts and rejected the idea of revenge.

“Our mothers and grandmothers taught us that the struggle for memory, truth and justice sprang from love. They’ve never demanded revenge … on the contrary, the violence was always directed against them,” he said.

De Carlotto, for her part, issued a call for national unity.

“We don’t have hatred or revenge (in our hearts). We have love,” she said.

Visibly moved at being awarded the prize, the three mothers and grandmothers vowed to continue their struggle.

“Despite our canes, our wheelchairs, we’re still standing and will continue to do so, because we’re no longer alone,” said Almeida, who dedicated the award to those who were “disappeared” by the dictatorship and to her son Alejandro, who went missing a year before the military regime came to power.

Boitano, for her part, highlighted the role played by women in the struggle for human rights.

“The thing is that women have perseverance, and that perseverance made each of us fight as best we could from the beginning. Fathers also fought,” she added.

Due to the pandemic, the traditional March 24 march for memory, truth and justice will not be held this year.

Instead, other commemorative actions will be carried out such as tree-planting and the hanging of white headscarves – which mothers of the disappeared wore during weekly demonstrations at the Plaza de Mayo – from windows and in public spaces. EFE-EPA


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