Hebe de Bonafini symbol of the Mothers of Plaza de

Hebe de Bonafini, symbol of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, dies

With the death of Hebe de Bonafini, president of the Argentine association Madres de Plaza de Mayo, at the age of 93, one of the best-known faces in the fight against the latest dictatorship civic-military of Argentina (1976-1983) and a true international reference in the defense of human rights.

Tireless fighter, always controversial in her statements and self-confessed revolutionary, Bonafini (1928-2022) died this Sunday at the Italian Hospital in La Plata, capital of the province of Buenos Aireswhere she had been hospitalized for several days due to the aggravation of her chronic illnesses.

“These are very difficult moments 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 Mayoto Hebe, in privacy,” said her daughter Alejandra (1965), the only one of her three children who remains alive.

His other two offspring, Jorge Omar (1950) and Raúl Alfredo (1953), disappeared during the early stages of the dictatorship, which led Bonafini and dozens of other mothers to travel to Buenos Aires in search of their loved ones.

Photo: EFE

Those Demonstrations in front of the Casa Rosada led to the creation, in 1977, of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, the main symbol of the opposition to the civic-military authorities and the greatest exponent in the fight for human rights in Argentina, which turned the white headscarf into a global icon.

With the advent of democracy, the association was divided into two: on the one hand, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Fundadora Line, which has Taty Almeida as its main reference, and on the other, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association, more recognized outside of the country, led until now by Hebe de Bonafini.

The government of Alberto Fernandez 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 the president, who has been a recurring target of Bonafini’s criticism in recent months.

Bonafini’s fame abroad was unquestionable, garnering numerous awards and distinctions across the globe during his more than 45 years of human rights activism.

An international prestige that, however, is not unanimously shared in his country, Argentina, due to his frequent outbursts and his constant praise of characters like Ernest “Che” GuevaraFidel Castro or Hugo Chavezamong other referents of the Latin American left.

In the case of Argentine politics, Hebe de Bonafini stood out for his harsh attacks on presidents “neoliberals“: in 1991 he described Carlos Menem (1989-1999) as “garbage”, a statement that earned him a case for “contempt”, while Mauricio Macri (2015-2019) called him on several occasions “foolish, cynical and a liar”.

“Not sharing does not mean that we are enemies, but rather that we have different paths, but the struggle is the same and the pain is the same,” Estela de Carlotto, president of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, said this Sunday.

Photo: EFE

The activist’s family announced that this Monday they will report on “what will be the spaces for the tributes and reminders” around Bonafini, whose ashes will rest in Plaza de Mayo, as confirmed by the Mothers’ association.

“I need the square to heal myself, I need you to improve me,” Bonafini said on November 10, in what would be the last of his “rounds” in the square, the one in which, despite never finding the answers that he was looking for, will rest forever.