Conflicts & War

‘Present’: a cry against impunity in Uruguay

By Jacinta Rivera

Montevideo, May 20 (EFE).- The popular phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” was illustrated Friday in Uruguay, where the 197 people who disappeared during the Uruguayan civic-military dictatorship (1973-1985) were showcased in the more than 20,000 photographs included in the 27th edition of the March of Silence.

About 100,000 people paraded in silence, broken only by the cry “Present!” after the name of each of the victims was read out.

The faces of the missing, whose relatives and friends stopped hearing news of them at the time of their arrest, flooded the main avenue of Montevideo, enveloped in a deafening silence during the almost two hours that the demonstration lasted

In one of the largest demonstrations ever in the South American country, citizens mobilized under the slogan: “Where are they? The truth is still kidnapped. The state is responsible.”

The march in memory, and for truth and justice, was made up of people of all ages, supporting the mothers who are no longer here and also those who have not stopped searching.

The organization Mothers and Relatives of Detained-Disappeared Uruguayans expressed, through spokesperson Elena Zaffaroni, that the march was “an important and sensitive event, a profoundly political, non-partisan, intense and committed expression.”

Throughout the country, as well as in Argentina, Spain, France and the United Kingdom, more than 40 marches were held.

The symbolic daisy with petals missing, alluding to the part of history erased by the Uruguayan State by it not clarifying what became of the 197, was symbolically planted at various points of the city and also covered windows and balconies.

This flower, together with the phrase “We are all relatives,” was at the center of a controversy in the Upper House this week when Amanda Della Ventura, senator of the Broad Front, a leftist coalition that governed Uruguay between 2005 and 2020 and is today the main force of the opposition, led a session wearing a T-shirt with the emblem of this struggle.

“You, in this way, are not representing us all by wearing that shirt,” was the response of Gustavo Penadés, representative of the ruling center-right National Party.

Ignacio Errandonea, spokesperson for Mothers and Relatives, said it was “shocking” that “there are legislators who say they do not feel represented,” since “the disappeared are all from Uruguay.”

In addition, the organization took advantage of the march to criticize the “attacks” it says are being carried out by Cabildo Abierto, a party with military roots that is part of the government coalition, against the specialized prosecutor’s office on human rights violations.

It also condemned the attempt to approve a “house arrest law for military, police and civilian murderers, torturers, those involved in disappearances, many of whom have confessed to the crimes.”

The truth continues to be a pending matter in Uruguay, despite the rulings of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which points out serious shortcomings of the State regarding the investigation and ensuring a judiciary that does not allow further delays in trying crimes against humanity. EFE


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