Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Woman’s Worth: Argentina's activist "abuelas"

We will feature a series of video posts this week in honor of International Women's Day. This year marks the centennial celebration of the date that began “as an offshoot of increased labor unrest in the early 20th century.” Over the past hundred years the role of women and their contributions have changed and we hope to honor that throughout the week.

As we mentioned briefly on Saturday, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) gave a notable award to Argentina’s Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo (“Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo” in Spanish). The Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize was bestowed upon the Argentine human rights activists in honor of their “tireless battle for human rights and peace by standing up to oppression, injustice and impunity.”

The “Abuelas” were founded in 1977 with the aim of finding babies stolen during the “Dirty War” period. In the 34 years since their creation, the group has reportedly identified over 100 children whose biological parents where either killed or “disappeared” under the brutal military regime.

Their tireless work has been crucial in the trial of former junta presidents Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone, who stand accused of masterminding the kidnapping of 34 children for illegal adoption. Through meticulous research the “Abuelas” hope to bring some measure of justice to those whose lives have been forever changed:
"The most real proof that there was a system in the thefts is the living proof, the children who regained their identities," said Agustin Chit, a lawyer for the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who are among the plaintiffs. "It's all the documents that the grandmothers in these 33 years were able to collect. There is no perfect crime and there wasn't in this case in relation to the systematic plan. Even the bureaucracy of the state apparatus left behind many documents."
Last September a 32-year-old attorney became the 102nd case of recuperated identity by the “Abuelas”. After undergoing DNA tests it was revealed that his mother gave birth to him while she was being held by the authorities at the infamous ESMA facility. Both of the man’s biological parents “disappeared” and were presumably killed while they were detained by the military.

Online Sources- EFE, The Telegraph, CNN, The Latin Americanist
Video Source – C5N via YouTube

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