Argentine Mothers of Plaza de Mayo gather to bid farewell to leader

Buenos Aires, Dec 4 (EFE).- The emblematic Argentine human rights group, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, on Sunday observed a day of solidarity in bidding farewell to their iconic leader and co-founder, Hebe de Bonafini, who died two weeks ago at age 94.

“We’re fulfilling her dream, joining together forever for others,” posted the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo on the social networks, where they showed a photo of donations of clothing for youngsters at their Buenos Aires headquarters with the letters “Hebe” visible above.

The mothers thanked everyone who has approached the organization to help accomplish what “Hebe wants for all her birthdays,” that is “always (doing things) for others.” Their clothing drive will last until next Thursday, and they set up long tables with food and drink for attendees at the event to pay tribute to Bonafini.

The organization said, addressing its late co-founder, “You didn’t leave. You’re always with us. Many thanks for everything you did and thanks for what you continue to do.”

The president of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo died on Nov. 20 at the Hospital Italiano in La Plata, in Buenos Aires province, after being admitted several days earlier for treatment of serious and chronic health issues.

The Argentine government decreed three days of national mourning for the human rights activist, who was one of the key faces of protest against the country’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship.

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association previously had bade farewell to Bonafini on Nov. 24 by scattering her ashes on their traditional weekly march around the central Buenos Aires plaza to demand that the government exert greater efforts to determine the fates of their children and other loved ones who were “disappeared” by the dictatorship.

“She is always with us. We love her so much, she gives affection and love to everyone. Thanks for coming and for fulfilling the dream of our beloved Hebe,” the Mothers said on Sunday in a video.

Bonafini spoke out in defense of human rights both in Argentina and abroad, and she gained widespread international recognition for her efforts, with UNESCO awarding her its Prize for Peace Education in 1999.

Her two sons supported Argentina’s communist resistance to the military dictatorship and both were taken into custody and disappeared by the ultrarightist junta.

The dictatorship kidnapped, tortured and murdered several thousand Argentines, with many who dared to protest the repressive regime disappearing without a trace, some of them thrown from military helicopters into the ocean.

During the dictatorship, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, with their regular marches around the square on which the presidential palace is located, were among the very few who stood up to demand respect for the rule of law and basic human rights.

They continued their activities after Argentina returned to civilian rule in 1984, demanding to know exactly what had happened to their loved ones under the slogan: “They were alive when they were taken, we want them back alive.”

EFE –/bp

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