NGOs in Latin America

Argentina fighting for the disappeared

Home grown NGOs also encountered difficulties as they grew or adjusted to changing circumstances. This has applied, for example, to the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, one of the most iconic and long-lasting civil society organisations in the region. The organisation came into existence in Argentina over four decades ago in April 1977 when a group of mothers of young victims of the Argentine military dictatorship began demonstrating every Thursday, wearing white headscarves, in the square in front of government house (Plaza de Mayo). Their main demand was that their children, many of whom had been kidnapped and tortured and whose fate was unknown, be returned to them alive. They served as a rallying point for opposition to the military regime, accused of killing up to 30,000 citizens (the number is disputed). The government responded by calling them the Plaza de Mayo locas (literally, madwomen, but the word is also used in slang to mean prostitutes). Some of the original Mothers were themselves kidnapped and murdered by clandestine military units.

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