This week’s reading on the situation in Argentina highlights the power of the people. What started as a small gathering of people with a common grief turned into an impactful movement. The mothers of those who disappeared as a result of the Argentinian government discovered a way to bring attention to a largely ignored human rights violation. The universal component of motherhood and loss of one’s own child made those unaffected by the disappearances connected and more emotionally invested in the matter. It is shocking to me that the government was able to cover up the story for so long and that the allegations against them were disregarded until the family members made a public outcry for justice and the return of their taken family.
It was interesting to see how the government responded to the open protests, especially since the outside attention the issue received made it more difficult for them to take their usual aggressive stance against opposition. However, it did not restrain them from attempting to spread fear through the group by kidnapping and killing some of the protestors. As a government trying to contain bad press, it was not in their best interest to hide past murders by committing more. The killings drew even more attention and sympathy from the media.
The government’s next actions to contain the issue reveal the power officials can have on media and public perceptions. They displayed the mothers as terrorist sympathizers, skewing foreign observers’ opinion on the matter. Since many looked at the issue from the outside, they had to rely on secondary sources to receive information and form their opinions. This information can be very susceptible to manipulation, delaying the mothers from fully conveying their concerns and call for help.
The government once again made the mistake of relying on killing to solve the issue. Their negligence led them to kidnap thirteen individuals linked to the mothers, two of whom were French nuns. This received a lot of international attention, with the French embassy demanding the government to return the two women, even though the government continually denied involvement. When the bodies of the nuns were found months later disposed of in the common manner of the Argentine government, public scrutiny increased even more. More investigations followed, revealing the astounding number of disappearances and reducing any credibility the Argentine government held among other nations.
The eventual downfall of the corrupt government leads back to the initial actions of brave individuals. It demonstrates even those without a great political standing or influence can make change and fight against the injustices within a nation. The mother’s realization of their power drove them to not stray from their cause, no matter the consequences or violence it brought upon them.