No longer the young Madres de Plaza de Mayo, the fierce women who brought about an end to the Dirty War in Argentina (1976-1983) at last found justice today. For years the Abuelas (Grandmothers) de Plaza de Mayo have been pursuing what they knew to be truth: That during their country’s military dictatorship many of the Desaparecidos (Disappeared) gave birth while held as captives of the State. These babies were then raised by military officials, or their allies, in a systematic plan to erase the newborns “leftist tendencies.” Since they began their efforts in 1977, the Abuelas have successfully identified 106 people who were stolen from their natural parents. What is perhaps even more unnerving is the Abuelas estimate there are at least 500 others in Argentina who know nothing of their true parents. For years the Abuelas circulated petitions, tested DNAs, knocked on doors, and sought justice. And today, 35 years later, a court finally handed down a sentence to the perpetrators of this atrocity.
Though a bit of a non sequitur, I have a sister who lives in Africa. She currently works in Kenya with the IOM, International Organization for Migration, chiefly helping refugees in the Horn of Africa. The work is, often times, disparaging and just last week she received news of four colleagues’ abduction along the Somali border. To hear her stories, and the stories of her colleagues, I sometimes get the feeling they are chipping away at an iceberg with spoons. When there is so much need and so much chaos how can one group of people make a difference? One only need glance through the Times or turn on MSNBC to reach the same conclusion, but the reality is with enough chipping change can come. The Madres and Abuelas are evidence of that. And today I am again reminded of that fact.