Dozens of Argentine mothers on Thursday protested President Mauricio Macri’s growing militarization of the police, which they claim resembles the police expansion under the country’s military dictatorship during the 1970s and 80s.
Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, the group that organized the protest, also slammed Macri for wasting money on police militarization instead of boosting social programs for the country’s poor.
Hebe de Bonafini, the leader of the organization, called on mothers across the country to draw inspiration from former president Cristina Fernandez, a notorious critic of police militarization.
“There is nothing that can extinguish our fire of passion, the fire that Cristina gave us,” Bonafini said, Perfil reports.
“Things have gotten so bad that Macri even travels with snipers everywhere he goes.”
Since taking office in 2015, Macri has cut funding for Argentina’s Education, Health and Culture ministries while expanding the budget for the Ministry of Defense.
Earlier this month, for example, Macri announced plans to consider purchasing new anti-protest equipment to ramp up the government's arsenal to crack down on social unrest in the South American country.
And last year, Macri increased the country’s security forces’ wages by 35.7 percent, according to the Ministry of Defense, incentivizing impoverished residents to join the police. The Argentine president also allocated over US$40 billion on purchasing military equipment from the U.S. for fiscal year 2017, sparking controversy among opposition protesters.
“Macri continues to do what he wants and we have to make sure we don’t allow him to keep doing this,” Bonafini also said at the protest.
“We have to remain in the streets and show him this is unacceptable.”
Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo represents Argentine mothers whose children were “disappeared” during the military dictatorship’s Dirty War, which frequently targeted leftist political activists and journalists.
The Dirty War was Argentina’s offshoot of Operation Condor, a Cold War-era campaign of violence across Latin America. Through the campaign, which resulted in tens of thousands of activist deaths, the U.S. teamed up with right-wing military dictatorships to extinguish leftist movements.
Mothers of Plaza de Mayo is one of the leading critics of Macri’s increasingly-bloated defense budget.