Saturday, May 19, 2007

News from Argentina

This past month in Argentina has been anything but dull. Here’s a run through of recent events and personal reflections on where things are going. Check out videos on these news events at Also, feel free to visit my blog for further updates:

Train Riot breaks out

Enraged train commuters rioted in a major rail station in Buenos Aires on May 16. Delays in railway services sparked violent riots in Buenos Aires, when commuters set fire to parts of a train station during rush hour.

Angry passengers lobbed rocks at ticket booths, and set fire to automated ticket dispensers and police offices inside the Constitucion train station, the largest station in Buenos Aires with more than 300,000 users daily. About an hour after the violence erupted, riot police clashed with protesting passengers; shooting tear gas, rubber bullets and arresting 16 people.

Overcrowding has plagued the railway, leading from Constitucion station in downtown Buenos Aires to the capital's poor southern suburbs, since services were privatized in the 1990's.

Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Commemorate 30th Anniversary

The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo commemorated the 30th anniversary of their movement on April 30 in Argentina with a celebration of art and music. Thousands joined the mothers in the Plaza in the heart of Buenos Aires to thank them for their three decade long struggle for human rights and justice. After thirty years of fighting, they continue to face legal roadblocks preventing courts from putting ex-military behind bars for their human rights crimes while a key witness in these trials was disappeared in 2006.

In 1977, out of desperation and love for their children, a group of mothers began a protest to demand information about the whereabouts of their children. These youth were among the 30,000 people who were forcefully disappeared during the so-called dirty war carried out by Argentina’s military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983.

Juana Pargament, now 92-years-old, said that the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo have always gathered the strength to fight from their children. “30 years of struggle! Of course we are older now, we started out when we were younger. When they took our children away, it was painful, we suffered. But we had a strength that I can't put into words. It was also a difficult lesson, because we mothers had to learn to defend our children.”

Impunity and escrache popular

Following the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo’s example the group H.I.J.O.S. (Children for Identity Justice and Against Forget and Silence) formed in 1996 using the escrache as a tool for popular justice for their parents and against impunity.

H.I.J.O.S. (Children for Identity Justice and Against Forget and Silence) held an “escrache” protest outside the home of Alfredo Bisordi, the Magistrate Council president who is accused of deliberately obstructing the cases to convict ex-military leaders for state supported terrorism. Alvaro Piedra, a son of a disappeared, human rights lawyer and member of HIJOS says that after 30 years victims still await justice. “The escrache is a method to send a message and bring light to the situation that Bisordi supports impunity, throughout his career as a magistrate he has supported the military.”

Bisordi first incorporated into the judicial system during the military dictatorship and was the secretary for Judge Norberto Giletta, who became infamous for rejecting the missing persons reports that the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo and other parents presented to the courts. Bisordi has openly supported the dictatorship and has even gone so far as to pardon skin heads accused of racist physical attacks and call torture survivors “subversive terrorists.”

Human rights groups want Bisordi and the other three council members to be removed from their positions and for the trials to make progress. Piedras said that if the trials are delayed military may escape prosecution. “We’re trying the criminals 30 years after their crimes were committed, so the presentation of evidence is more difficult.”

Marie Trigona


Matthew Stannard said...

The Mothers of the Plaza continue to be one of the most powerful and inspirational movements in all of history. I often think that many groups struggling against oppression could learn something from the model deployed by the Mothers.

Mohamed A. H. said...

Hey comrade Renegade
wassup? a very inflammatory blog front page. Take it easy woman! try to come over at my blog, we r currently serving nonsense there.

Frank Partisan said...

mohamed: It's great you're back blogging. I know your friends who blog, were worried you were rotting in jail or dead.

You invented inflammatory my friend.

Graeme said...

I'm with Matt. They are truly inspiring.

troutsky said...

They should get a collective Nobel Peace prize, actually, they should get Kissingers.

Marie Trigona said...

The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo have taught and inspired many generations to come from their example of resitance at all costs. Despite their age, painful past, and relentless legal attacks they have not abandoned their fight. I feel privliged to have personally meet these women and learn from their revolutionary struggle for human rights and justice.

? said...

Perhaps I should say poetic justice.

Hope to see you around my good friend.

Aaron A. said...

We need more groups like the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo.

The Daughters of the American Revolution or the Soldier's Angels just encourage the cycle of American violence.

Tom Cleland said...

Renegade, you predicted correctly on the Democratic response to the Bush veto on the occupation funding!

vuong said...

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