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  • The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo march against the military commanders who had planned the systematic murder of thousands.

    The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo march against the military commanders who had planned the systematic murder of thousands. | Photo: AFP

Published 29 April 2017

The group is commemorating its 40th anniversary since its inception at the height of the U.S.-backed "dirty war."

The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, one of the leading human rights organizations in Argentina, gathered with thousands of supporters to commemorate their 40th anniversary searching for justice for their stolen babies and the disappeared during the country's "dirty war."

Argentine Grandmas Recover 122nd Stolen Child From Dirty War

The Mothers are also building a gigantic wall with the faces of thousands of disappeared people, marking their 2,038 "actions" to raise awareness for crimes against humanity carried out during the country's dictatorshipfrom 1976-1983.  

"The idea is for each mother or relative to tell their story in the first person and with that we will put together a collective story where we first met 40 years ago," Nora Cortinas, one of the founders of Mothers, told Telam. "That is why we ask that all who have something to say come and take the floor."

The organization received letters of support from Bolivian President Evo Morales, former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, and the visit of Colombian human rights activist Piedad Cordoba.

The organization was founded on April 30, 1977, in front of the Casa Rosada presidential palace, to search for their disappeared children who were kidnapped by the military dictatorship. They began marching every week at the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, demanding answers from several governments. 

"Now, as they did for the first time that April 30, 1977, the Mother continue marching."

"40 years of struggle in 40 images."

Protests at the time were met with armed suppression by military police. Despite the threat of injury and death, the Argentine mothers moved forward with speaking out against government violence.

Operation Condor-Era Argentine Dictator Gets Life Imprisonment

The Dirty War, which took place during the 1970s and 80s, was Argentina’s offshoot of Operation Condor, a Cold War-era campaign of violence across Latin America. 

“I couldn’t keep quiet,” Haydee Gastelu, one of the organization’s founders, told The Guardian. “We needed everyone to know, even if nobody believed us. That’s probably why they called us the Mad Mothers at first.”

Just last week, the organization announced that they recovered missing child number 122. The son, who has yet to be named, had parents who were critical of the Dirty War-era government.

Today, Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo continue protesting against their government, this time directed at President Mauricio Macri. Macri’s family and government cabinet, according to Infobae, had close ties to the military dictatorship. 

For the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Macri’s administration has not done enough to resolve the decades-long disappearance of their children.

“Argentina’s new government wants to erase the memory of those terrible years and is putting the brakes on the continuation of trials,” 86-year-old Taty Almeida, whose 20-year-old son, Alejandro, disappeared in 1975, told The Guardian.

“This struggle began when we were in our 40s. Now, 40 years later, we have to start all over again.”

The Mothers, who were their signature white handkerchief to cover their heads, are also demanding "the opening of archives of the last dictatorship" and to revindicate "the number of the 30 thousand disappeared", said the organization, referring to President Macri's recent comments that the figure of disappeared had been lower

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