The Grandmothers Of Plaza De Mayo, An Example Of Justice In Argentina

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For the month of March, the Bronson Hub wanted to feature stories and articles about powerful and strong female seniors. 

Written By: Alicia Borisonik

Grandmothers for me represent a solid, warm and rich place of wisdom where we can always go back when we lose our path. They are the carriers of the stories of our civilization, our ancestors, our land. They have the wisdom of so many years of experiences, they don’t need the approval of others and in the happiness curve they are almost at the top.

Very often, I think, with some regret why I didn’t ask my grandmother to tell me more stories about her life. My Bobe Rosa (grandma in Idish) came from Romania to Argentina escaping the pogroms, she was 7 years old and she traveled for one month in a big ship not knowing anything about what the future was bringing to her. Thinking about grandmothers and their power, I wanted to write about a group of amazingly strong grandmothers; “Asociacion Civil Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo” (Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, Argentina). These amazing elders changed the life of many Argentinians.

This organization was created in 1977 with the goal of finding the children stolen and illegally adopted during the Argentine dictatorship. I was 12 years old and I remember not understanding completely what was going on. I only recall that my mom took me out of the school for the day. After that I learned that I shouldn’t talk about my parent’s books, their communist ideas, the fact that my father used glasses, (which meant he read books!) even hiding my Jewish cultural background was part of the package.

Fear was a constant companion for me from 12 to 17 years old. The dictatorship had a slogan “Silence is health” (Silencio es salud) so I guess I thought the best way to survive was to shut up.

The mission of the “Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo”, was to locate children kidnapped during the repression, some of them born to mothers in prison who were later “disappeared”, and to return the children to their surviving biological families. It was believed that at the time it was likely that around 30,000 had disappeared between the ages of 16-35; around 30% were women and of those women, around 3% were pregnant (Wikipedia)

In 1983, the constitutional government was re-established, and the grandmothers searched for missing children using anonymous tips and conducted their own investigations but were unable to prove the children’s identities. Geneticists from the United States worked with the Grandmothers and were able to store blood samples from family members in the National Genetic Data Bank until the grandchildren could be located and could confirm the relatedness with an accuracy rate of 99.99%. The Grandmothers fought through the court systems to annul the unlawful adoptions. By the mid-1990s legal battles of custody were no longer appropriate because the missing grandchildren were now legal adults. The grandmothers adapted their strategy and started public awareness campaigns to direct the missing grandchildren to contact the organization.

As of August 2004, over 400 children have been recorded as missing. However, it is known that there are approximately 500 kidnapped children.

In the 30 years, they have been able to locate 120 of the disappeared children.

 

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