Hebe de Bonafini: Co-founder of Argentina’s Plaza de Mayo mothers group dies at 93

Hebe de Bonafini: Co-founder of Argentina’s Plaza de Mayo mothers group dies at 93

A 93-year-old human rights advocate who inspired the families of those who went missing during Argentina’s Dirty War has passed away.

In 1977, Hebe de Bonafini and other women established the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo to call for the release of their stolen children from security agents.

After the regime ended, she kept running for office and grew into a fiery and divisive character.

Hebe de Bonafini

Her two sons are believed to be deceased as they were never located.

Alberto Fern√°ndez, the president of Argentina, proclaimed three days of national mourning in memory of a “tireless combatant.”

Sunday morning, Ms. Bonafini passed away, according to her daughter Alejandra.

“We acknowledge the intense pain in these circumstances and the love that people have for Hebe. However, we must now cry in private “In a statement, she wrote.

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After her boys were abducted by soldiers earlier that year, Ms. Bonafini founded the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo organization in May 1977 with the help of 13 additional ladies.

She encountered other women in a similar scenario as she looked for them.

Throughout Argentina in the 1970s and 1980s, an estimated 30,000 people were slain or abducted against their will.

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In front of the president’s mansion in Buenos Aires’ Plaza de Mayo, the group of women started holding weekly protests.

The initial protests were dispersed by the government, which also kidnapped and then executed the group’s original leader, Azucena Villaflor.

However, the demonstrations persisted and drew in more participants.

To represent the missing children, the women started donning cloth diapers on their heads, and later, white scarves came to represent the movement.

Their campaign became well-known worldwide and put the Argentinean administration under pressure.

In 2007, Ms. Bonafini told Reuters news agency, “They arrested us, they beat us, and we came with wigs so they couldn’t identify us.”

After the dictatorship ended in 1983, the group continued its campaign, and Ms. Bonafini took the helm of a more radical faction that demanded fundamental political reform.

She developed into an outspoken and occasionally contentious personality and claimed in 2001 that the 9/11 attacks made her “happy” due to Western measures like NATO bombings.

She added that because Pope John Paul II had “done many sins,” he would burn in hell.

She was charged in 2017 with theft of funds intended for the construction of affordable housing. She claimed that the president at the time, whom she viewed as an enemy, did this as a political ploy.