Buenos Aires Times

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Mothers of Plaza de Mayo protest at headquarters against 'judicial operation'

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo human rights group called on its backers to "defend" its headquarters on Monday, as they attempted to block a judicial operation.

Tuesday 16 April, 2019
Demonstrators meet outside the headquarters of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo.
Demonstrators meet outside the headquarters of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo. Foto:PERFIL.COM

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo human rights group called on its backers to "defend" its headquarters on Monday, as they attempted to block a judicial operation.

Protesters blocked off access to the building – located at Hipólito Irigoyen 1584, in front of Plaza Congreso – as the group moved to stop a government official from carrying out an audit of their assets, as part of an investigation into bankruptcy proceedings brought by a former employee who says they are owed money.

"The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo repudiate a new advance of the national government and its judicial operators, who are trying, once again, to appropriate the historical archive of the Association, the largest in Latin America of its kind," the organisation said in a press release.

The official needed a police escort after the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo group and its supporters blocked access to the offices. ATE activists and Peronist Youth organisations joined the demonstration.

"They gave the order to break the gate. They've no respect for anything, they're smashing up the country," said Hebe de Bonafini, the 90-year-old outspoken founder of the movement who is a fierce critic of President Mauricio Macri.

The group, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of their first meeting on Sunday, has for years continued its quest to discover the truth behind the disappearance of their children during the brutal 1976-1983 military dictatorship.

However, the group were declared bankrupt in June, 2017, as a result of a claim for unpaid wages by a former employee.

De Bonafini said the judicial order to enter the group's premises was retaliation for its opposition to President Mauricio Macri.

"This is the price for having said from the first day that he's our enemy, we certainly didn't get that wrong," she said.

De Bonafini and the group's former president Sergio Schoklender have been accused of diverting public funds. The group has criticised the proceedings against it, which is being carried out by a commercial court. Judge Fernando Javier Perillo ordered yesterday's procedure and authorised the police to engage in the operation.

Authorities suspect the pair of committing irregularities when the association worked on it 'Sueños compartidos' social housing programme from 2005-2011, during the presidencies of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Néstor Kirchner, who died in 2010, was president from 2003-2007 before he was succeeded by his wife for two terms until 2015. She is Macri's closest rival ahead of presidential elections in October, although she has yet to confirm her run.

On April 30, 1977, 14 women, mostly housewives, rallied in front of the presidential palace, which had been occupied just over a year earlier by the military.

The military mockingly branded them "las locas" ("the mad women"), but the women have continued to meet every Thursday at 3.30pm ever since, despite the youngest of them now being in their 80s.

Human rights groups believe around 30,000 opponents of the dictatorship were disappeared during military rule from 1976-1983, during which time the military junta carried out an operation of state terrorism against 

- TIMES/AFP

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