The white scarf of the Mothers, painted on the ground in Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires
April 30th, anniversary of the Association of Mothers in Argentina –
Abuela’s fighting for their disappeared children and grandchildren
Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo
Speaking Truth to Power
Madres of the Plaza de Mayo
Statements from some of the mothers:
“One of the things that I simply will not do now is shut up. The women of my generation in Latin America have been taught that the man is always in charge and the woman is silent even in the face of injustice…Now I know that we have to speak out about the injustices publicly. If not, we are accomplices. I am going to denounce them publicly without fear. This is what I learned.”
María del Rosario de Cerruti
“Becoming aware of all the terrible things the young people were enduring made us see the ferociousness of the enemy clearly. The ferocity of the enemy gives us the strength to face him. I mean, how are you going to allow him to go on? “
“We realize that to demand the fulfillment of human rights is a revolutionary act, that to question the government about bringing our children back alive was a revolutionary act. We are fighting for liberation, to live in freedom, and that is a revolutionary act…To transform a system is always revolutionary.”
Madres of the Plaza de Mayo
Children who disappeared
History of Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo
Children Who Disappeared or Who Were Born in Captivity
The drama of children who disappeared in our country, the Argentine Republic, is one of the consequences of the National Reorganization Process enforced by the military dictatorship, which ruled the country between 1976 and 1983.
These children are the children of our children, who have also disappeared. Many babies were kidnapped with their parents, some after their parents were killed, and others were born in clandestine detention centers where their mothers were taken after having been sequestered at different states of their pregnancies.
We, the babies’ grandmothers, tried desperately to locate them and, during these searches, decided to unite. Thus, in 1977, the non-governmental organization called Abuelas (Grandmothers) de Plaza de Mayo was established, dedicated specifically to fighting for the return of our grandchildren. We also relentlessly investigated our children’s and grandchildren’s disappearances, in hopes of finding them.
As mothers our search is two-folded because we are demanding the restitution of our grandchildren while simultaneously searching for these children’s parents, our sons and daughters.
From the moment that our children (often with our grandchildren in their wombs) disappeared, we visited every court, office, orphanage, day care center, and so on, to locate them. We appeared before the courts, the successive military governments, the Supreme Court, and the ecclesiastical hierarchies, never obtaining a positive result. We finally directed our claim to international organizations such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States, again to no avail.
In 1977 we began our struggle with the claim for 13 children’s restitution. As of August 2004, over 400 children have been recorded as missing. However, we know that there are approximately 500 kidnapped children. In many cases, their relatives did not declare such kidnappings, either due to ignorance of the ability to do so or because they did not know that the mothers were pregnant at the time of their disappearance.
The disappeared children were deprived of their identity, their religion, and their right to live with their family, in order words, all of the rights that are nationally and internationally recognized as their universal human rights.
Our demand is concrete: that the children who were kidnapped as a method of political repression be restored to their legitimate families.
The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (Spanish: Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo) is an association of Argentine mothers whose children were “disappeared” during the Dirty War of the military dictatorship, between 1976 and 1983. They organized while trying to learn what had happened to their children, and began to march in 1977 at the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, in front of the Casa Rosada presidential palace, in public defiance of the government’s state terrorism intended to silence all opposition.
The Mothers’ association was formed by women who had met each other while trying to find their missing sons and daughters. Many of the disappeared were believed to have been abducted by agents of the Argentine government during the years known as the Dirty War (1976–1983); the “disappeared” were often tortured and killed before their bodies were disposed of in rural areas or unmarked graves. The 14 founders of the group were Azucena Villaflor de De Vincenti, Berta Braverman, Haydée García Buelas; María Adela Gard de Antokoletz, Julia, María Mercedes and Cándida Gard (four sisters); Delicia González, Pepa Noia, Mirta Baravalle, Kety Neuhaus, Raquel Arcushin, and Senora De Caimi. They started demonstrations on the Plaza de Mayo, in front of the Casa Rosadapresidential palace, on April 30 1977.
In that period, many people were highly fearful of attracting the government’s attention, as it was exterminating the opposition. Taking strength together by marching in public, with some coverage by the press, by the following year, hundreds of women participated, gathering in the Plaza for weekly demonstrations. They made signs with photos of their children and brandished their children’s names. The government tried to marginalize and trivialize their work by calling them “las locas” (the madwomen).
Together with the number of disappeared, the movement grew and gained international attention during the years of the Dirty War. The mothers cultivated international attention, seeking to build pressure by other governments against the Argentine dictatorship by publicizing the many stories of the “disappeared”. In 1978, when Argentina’s hosted the World Cup, the Mothers’ demonstrations at the Plaza were covered by the international press corps in town for the sporting event. Villaflor had been searching for one of her sons and her daughter-in-law for six months. The government arranged for her to be taken to the ESMA concentration camp on 8 December 1978.
The military has admitted that over 9,000 of those kidnapped are still unaccounted for, but the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo say that the number of missing is closer to 30,000. Most are presumed dead. An estimated 500 of the missing are the children born in concentration camps or prison to pregnant ‘disappeared’ women; the babies were given in illegal adoptions to military families and others associated with the regime. Their mothers were generally believed killed. The numbers are hard to determine due to the secrecy surrounding the abductions.
During this period, Azucena Villaflor, Esther Careaga and María Eugenia Bianco, three of the founders of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, were also “disappeared”. After the fall of the military regime, a civilian government commission held in 1984 put the number of disappeared at close to 11,000. Human rights groups and the Mothers believe the figure is much higher, because the military and security forces destroyed records before ceding power to a democratic government.
Unidentified bodies continue to be found related to those years. For instance, in January 2005, the body of a French nun was exhumed without an identity.Léonie Duquet, a supporter of the Mothers, had “disappeared” during the years of the military dictatorship and was feared dead. Her disappearance had increased international outrage towards the Argentine military government. DNA tests concluded on August 30, 2005, confirmed that the body exhumed in January was that of Duquet.
In mid-2005, a forensics team also identified the remains of Azucena Villaflor, Esther Careaga and María Eugenia Bianco, all pioneer Mothers of the Plaza. Villaflor’s ashes were buried at the foot of the May Pyramid in the Plaza on 8 December 2005.
The mothers with President Néstor Kirchner
Mothers of the Disappeared in America
A brief History of the Family Court Crisis and the Modern Day Suffragist Movement
1992 March to the US Capital – to bring attention to this egregious situation. Children were being taken from safe mothers and given to dangerous fathers by family/divorce court Judges. Several bills to help these endangered children, including HR 4526, died in Judiciary Committee
1994 Congressional Hearings scheduled on failure of family court and child protective services to protect children and retaliation against mandated reporters was postponed when Richard Nixon died. I was never rescheduled.
The 1996 book titled The Hostage Child suggested the existence of a two tier system of justice. The overt system consists of well-intended, well-written laws, rules and policies to protect victims from abuse. The covert system ensures brutal men continue to own women and children by subverting the very laws, rules and policies designed to protect victims
Two Decades and One Million Children later
In May 2012, exactly 20 years later, a large crowd gathered a the Whitehouse and marched to bring attention to the fact that Batterers and Molesters were receiving custody in State Courts. The problem had gotten worse, despite well-intended, well written laws, rules and policies to protect child victims, were promptly subverted. With chilling regularity, children are taken from safe mothers and given to dangerous fathers. Mandated reporters who report suspected child abuse are viciously attacked.
Although Domestic Violence Shelters work well for women without children, mothers who flee domestic Violence are at high risk for losing their children. These DV services have little to offer the women in Domestic Violence Divorces, beyond filing restraining orders. Mothers are in a catch 22, if they leave they are likely to lose custody, with no money, no attorney, and a bias environment that prefers fathers to mothers, which no one tells these mothers, and mothers who stay will lose custody and be charged with endangerment.
2010 – Mothers continued to return to Washington Now wearing white tee shirts with Mothers of Lost Children in black inscribed on the front. This movement was patterned after the Madres of the Plaza de mayo in Argentina who began protesting in Buenos Ares in 1977. Mothers who’s adult children and grandchildren were taken by the government to be tortured and ‘disappeared’ by military police.
The contemporary Mothers of Lost Children in the US understand that their young children and grandchildren are also taken by the trafficked and legally kidnapped by the government and ‘disappeared’.
The specific branch of government that takes the children is not military. It is the family court division backed by local police force if mothers do not follow orders. The orders to turn their children over to the very batterers and molesters they fled. In dreadful irony, child protective service workers tell the mothers that if they do not leave, their children will be taken by CPS, a government branch backed by the police force.
The system has become a trap. Many children, including nursing infants, are ‘disappeared’ from their safe non-offending mothers by no contact orders because the mothers who reported their children as abused and said ‘bad things about dad’. Mothers are ordered no contact and gag orders to prevent them from speaking out about this abuse. The children are living in households that can best be described as torture camps where they are beaten and raped with impunity. When they are older and try to escape, their fathers may send them to camps such as the Judge Rotenberg Center to be tortured and electro-shocked until they stop saying they are being beaten and raped by their fathers.
Because the problem is getting worse, even though this horrifying Catch 22 has been described repeatedly to the President and elected representatives, one wonders if the authors of The Hostage Child are correct. Even if women can now escape domestic violence, a covert system ensures that brutal men will continue to own children and control women.
Mothers of Lost Children are Mothers who: Pray, Lobby and Protest, through nonviolent civil disobedience, court watch and meet with congressional leaders. We use our voices to speak for the voiceless mothers and children who are separated and who’s human rights are being violated in America. We are safe non- offending mothers who have lost custody in Domestic Violence Divorces after reporting abuse.
We areAmerica Mothers of the Disappeared. Like our sisters in Argentina, American children have been taken by agents of the government: CPS/Family/dependency courts, never to see one another again. Mothers are struggling to protect themselves and their children and the right to parent after separation and divorce. The landscape of the America family has changed dramatically over the last 30 years. In today’s courts, father’s know best. It is reported that men who batter and molest receive full custody 85% of the time. Mothers and children are being torn apart by a government that provides assistance to bullies and terrorists, as they profit from the collapse of the American Family. Motherhood in America needs defending and children need protection.