Azucena Villaflor was born on the 7th of July 1924 just outside of Buenos Aires. She had a fairly typical life at the time, finished school, got married and had four children. Between the years 1976 and 1983, “Argentina was in a state of political upheaval” (Lee) and suffered at the hands of a military government. The time was labelled the Dirty War and the government “abducted, tortured, and killed anyone considered subversive” (Lee). Many of their opposers were quite young and

many went missing. Records were then “obliterated” (Lee) by the government so families were unable to find out what exactly happened to their children. Among these “young rebels” (Lee) were Villafor’s son Nestor and his girlfriend Raquel who both went missing as a result of their actions. Due to fear and oppression, many simply accepted they would be unable to find “their disappeared family members” and understood that informing “would only get them in trouble” (Lee). Villafor wasn’t so discouraged. She quickly started asking for information about her son and “made inquiries at the Interior Ministry” (Lee) continuously to no avail. Villafor soon organized a march of Mothers “outside the government offices” (Lee) who all shared her plight with missing children like her.

The group grew quickly with mother’s meeting “in café’s, churches, and living rooms around Buenos Aires” (Lee) and soon “became a movement” (Lee). Only mothers were permitted to join and every Thursday they continued to protest outside the government’s offices “sometimes with the names of their disappeared children written on them” (Lee). They soon became a problem for the government as their movement spread around the world with Villafor always at the centre, her son’s file in hand. The Mother’s published a list with all the names of their missing children on the 10th of December 1977 and soon after, Villafor “was abducted and taken to a notorious Argentinean torture centre” (Lee). Tragically, Villafor’s “body washed up on a beach” (Lee) a few months later. Her actions inspired Latin Americans around the world and still to this day, Mother’s march in the same area every Thursday to fight for political, civil and human rights for Latin American’s everywhere. Their famous “white headscarves” (Lee) are still worn in every protest.

References:

Lee, Mackenzi, and Petra Eriksson. Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World. Abrams Image, 2018.

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