By Fr Luis Sabarre OMI
The last year has seen the collapse of the Argentine economy and near revolution in the streets coming not from the poor but from the middle classes who have seen their savings in the banks destroyed through the collapse of the Argentine peso. But Argentina’s troubles began further back in the ‘80s when the ruthless military government introduced what was almost a reign of terror. One feature was the snatching away of people and making them disappear…sometimes by dropping them from helicopters into the sea. Everyone was scared and even the Church did not speak up as it did in the Philippines. However one courageous group of women, mothers and relatives of the ‘disappeared’, started their famous silent walk around the Plaza de Mayo which fronts the Palacio Rosada where the President resides. These women have become known as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Fr. Luis Sabarre, a Filipino missionary in Argentina, takes up the story.
It was 1982 when I arrived in Argentina that I first heard about the much talked-about “Guerra sucia” or the dirty war. The last coup d’etat in the country on March 24, 1976 brought down the government of Isabel Peron, the legitimate successor on the death of her husband, Juan Domingo Peron, founder of the Peronist Party. Isabel Peron was the first woman president of Argentina. The military junta found her to be weak and unable to handle the government and to control the resurging unrest of the populace due to the constant threat and disturbances of the guerillas influenced by Che Guevara.