Carlotto searched for her missing grandson, born to her pregnant daughter after she was disappeared in 1977, for 36 years before being reunited.
An iconic Argentine human rights activist had powerful words of encouragement for social movements resisting the conservative government’s neoliberal agenda and fighting for the protection of human rights, saying that if progressive forces in the country were able to confront the brutal military regime in the 1970s and 1980s, they can certainly speak truth to power in the face of right-wing President Mauricio Macri.
“If we could do it with Videla, we’re going to be able to do it with Macri,” said Estela de Carlotto
, head of the internationally-renowned Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, in reference to the Macri government’s policies that have served a blow to human rights and the struggle for transitional justice in the country.
General Jorge Rafael Videla, installed after the 1976 coup against left-wing President Isabel Peron, oversaw a brutal period of forced disappearances, torture and murder targeting political dissidents, human rights defenders, church leaders, students and other opponents of the military regime. An estimated 30,000 people were forcibly disappeared under the 1976 to 1983 dictatorship.
It’s not the first time Carlotto, who together with the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo has struggled for decades to search for children and grandchildren who were kidnapped and disappeared during the dictatorship, has had sharp words for Macri.
The human rights leader has accused the president of trying to erase of victims of the Dirty War from Argentina’s collective memory and criticized the government for undermining the quest for justice for dictatorship-era crimes.
In an unforgivable gaffe last year, Macri made highly controversial comments in an interview with BuzzFeed Wednesday, saying that he didn’t know how many people were disappeared in Argentina, whether “9,000 or 30,000.” Carlotto responded with criticism, saying, “He has the obligation to know that it is an estimated 30,000 people disappeared,” adding that if he didn’t know, “so learn.”
Carlotto searched for her missing grandson, born to Carlotto’s pregnant daughter after she was disappeared in 1977, for 36 years before being reunited.
The forced disappearance of tens of thousands of victims and kidnapping of hundreds of babies was part of the regional U.S.-backed Operation Condor counterinsurgency program aimed at wiping out leftist opposition to murderous dictatorships in South America.
In Argentina, the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo and other human rights groups have dubbed the Dirty War a “genocide” against political dissidents.