On March 24, hundreds of thousands of Argentines took to Plaza de Mayo and the surrounding streets of the capital Buenos Aires to commemorate the victims of the last dictatorship and demand justice for them. Photo: Leandro Mastronola / Emerging
March 24, 2022 marked 46 years since the US-backed civilian-military coup overthrew the leftist government of President Isabel Martínez de Perón in Argentina (July 1974-March 1976). The coup installed the bloodiest dictatorship in the country’s history, led by General Jorge Rafael Videla, Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera and Brigadier General Orlando Ramón Agosti (March 1976-December 1983). The period of the dictatorship was marked by state terrorism and serious human rights violations.
For more than seven years of dictatorship, Argentine security forces, along with right-wing death squads such as Triple A, have hunted down anyone suspected of being associated with socialism, left-wing Peronism or the Montoneros movement. It is estimated that more than 30,000 students, activists, trade unionists, writers, journalists, artists and all citizens suspected of being left-wing activists have been abducted, tortured and have disappeared. The military junta silenced all political or ideological dissidents, even those considered contrary to its neoliberal economic policies.
The armed forces even seized their belongings and their babies. According to available data, approximately 500 children, detained with their militant parents or born in captivity, were recovered as war trophies by the repressive forces and handed over to military families, sold or abandoned in state institutions.
In the years since the return of democracy, government authorities have taken steps to honor the victims and ensure that those horrific times never happen again. In 2002, the Argentine Congress declared this tragic day to be commemorated as the National Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice, with the aim of making it a day of reflection on recent history. In 2006 it was declared a national holiday in Argentina.
For more than three decades, every year on March 24, hundreds of thousands of citizens, relatives of missing persons, members of social movements, human rights organizations and left-wing political parties have marched on the Plaza de Mayo in the capital Buenos Aires to commemorate the victims of the last dictatorship and demand justice for the crimes against humanity committed by the state during this period.
This March 24, after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, once again hundreds of thousands of Argentines took to the streets across the country to pay tribute to the victims and their revolutionary spirit. .
In Buenos Aires, wearing white scarves, shouting “memory, truth and justice”, members and supporters of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo and Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, the human rights organizations that have been at the forefront of the fight for justice for and the truth about their missing loved ones, marched from 9 Julio Avenue to Plaza de Mayo, carrying a large flag with the photos of the 30,000 victims. More than a hundred thousand people filled the square and the surrounding streets.
Massive demonstrations and marches took place in cities such as Santa Fe, Rosario, Salta, Cordoba, Tucumán, Neuquén, among others.
Human rights activist and one of the Mothers of May Square, Nora Cortiñas, addressed the large crowd and delivered the annual speech prepared by human rights organizations, such as Grandmothers of May Square, Mothers of May Square, Relatives of the Disappeared and Detained for Political Reasons, Sons and Daughters for Identity and Justice Against Oblivion and Silence ( HIJOS), among others.
“46 years after the genocidal coup, and two years after taking care of us, we march again to Plaza de Mayo, our Plaza, as it is done today throughout the country. Once again we come up with the photos of those who were victims of the genocide. Their absences continue to hurt us, but we hold their flags high, their faces, their names, their stories, their lives, their activism, and we make them present,” Cortiñas said.
She underlined that “they are here because we have never given up on our fight against impunity. The cancellation of the laws on the end point and due obedience allowed the return of the times of justice”, and recalled that “16 years of effective trials for crimes against humanity with 1,058 convicted is an achievement that we should never minimize”. At the same time, Cortiñas said that “we are concerned about the increase in benefits granted to convicts and detainees in preventive prisons”, and pointed out that “currently 579 benefit from house arrest. Of the number total of people under investigation at present, 764 people are in detention, while 1,532 remain at large.
She stressed that “it is necessary that the appointment of judges be resolved urgently; that resources be strengthened to deepen investigative work at the investigation stage; that the perspective of gender and diversity is integrated into the judicial point of view; that the oral stage be accelerated by adding days of hearings; that the interminable times in the recursive ways before the Cassation and the Court come to an end.
Norita concluded the speech by stating that “we, the people, are the strength of the struggles that have arisen in this country to make it just, free and united. We are the identity of a nation that continues to build Memory, Truth and Justice, that defends sovereignty and independence. We will not allow any damage to democracy. Since we got it back, people will take care of it forever.