The day Hebe de Bonafini, a symbol of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and the fight against the Argentine civic-military dictatorship, died this Sunday at the age of 93.
Hebe de Bonafini died at the age of 93, President and symbol of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo group.
With her death, one of the best-known faces in the fight against the last civic-military dictatorship disappears of Argentina (1976-1983) and a true international reference in the defense of human rights.
A tireless fighter, always controversial in her statements and a self-confessed revolutionary, Bonafini died this Sunday at the Italian Hospital in La Plata, capital of the province of Buenos Aires, where she had been hospitalized for several days due to the aggravation of her chronic illnesses.
“These are very difficult times and of deep sadness and we understand the love of the people for Hebe, but at this moment as a family we have the need to mourn the Mother of Plaza de Mayo, Hebe, in privacy,” her daughter Alejandra (1965), the only one of her three children who remains alive, said in a statement .
His other two sons, Jorge Omar (1950) and Raúl Alfredo (1953), disappeared during the early stages of the dictatorship, which led to Bonafini and dozens of other mothers to travel to Buenos Aires in search of their loved ones.
These demonstrations in front of the Casa Rosada led to the creation, in 1977, of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, the main symbol of the opposition to the civil-military authorities and the greatest exponent in the fight for human rights in Argentina, which turned the white scarf on their heads into a worldwide icon.
A scarf that waved again this Sunday in the Plaza de Mayo, with hundreds of people who gathered to celebrate a < strong>“ronda” impromptu in memory of Hebe de Bonafini.
Praise of the ruling party
The former president (2007-2015) and current vice president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández, was in charge of publicly announcing the death of Bonafini, with whom she always maintained a great friendship, especially after the reopening of the trials for crimes against humanity promoted by her husband, the late Néstor Kirchner (2003-2007).
“Dearest Hebe, Mother of Plaza de Mayo, world symbol of the fight for human rights, pride of Argentina. God called you on the day of National Sovereignty (…) It should not be a coincidence. Simply thank you and see you always”, the former president said on her Twitter account.
The government of Alberto Fernández decreed three days of national mourning for the death of Bonafini, an “international symbol” in the search for memory, truth and justice for the “thirty thousand disappeared” during the era of state terrorism.
“With the departure of Hebe de Bonafini, we lost a tireless fighter,”, said President Alberto Fernández, who has been a recurring target of Bonafini's criticism in recent months.
Hebe de Bonafini: a controversial character
Bonafini's fame abroad was unquestionable, garnering numerous awards and distinctions across the globe during his more than 45 years of activism for human rights.
An international prestige that, however, is not unanimously shared in his country, Argentina, due to his frequent outbursts and his constant praise of characters such as Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Fidel Castro or Hugo Chávez, among other leaders of the Latin American left.
In the case of Argentine politics, Hebe de Bonafini stood out for her harsh attacks on the presidents “ neoliberals”: in 1991 he described Carlos Menem (1989-1999) as “garbage”, a statement that earned him a cause for “contempt”, while Mauricio Macri (2015-2019) was branded on various occasions as “foolish, cynical and a liar”.
“Not sharing does not mean we are enemies, but that we have different paths, but the struggle is the same and the pain is the same” , stated this Sunday Estela de Carlotto, president of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo.
The main opposition leaders have not yet ruled on Bonafini's death, with specific exceptions such as that of Liberal deputy José Luis Espert, who was a presidential candidate in 2019.
“Hebe de Bonafini it was… Without being accountable to Justice”, Espert highlighted, referring to the investigation launched against the elderly woman during Macri's term for alleged fraud against the State.
Return to the Plaza
The activist's family announced that this Monday they will report on “what will be the spaces for tributes and reminders” around Bonafini, whose ashes will rest in Plaza de Mayo, as confirmed the Association of Mothers.
“I need the place to heal myself, I need you to improve me”, Bonafini said on November 10, in which it would be the last of his “rounds” In the square, the one in which she, despite the fact that she never found the answers she was looking for, she will rest forever.