Argentina’s Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo

Just for a moment imagine your daughter is pregnant and you are about to be a grandmother. You are excited and anxiously awaiting the arrival of your grandchild when suddenly your daughter disappears.

It happened to Rosa Tarlovsky de Roisinblit from Argentina, and Rosa wasn’t the only mother whose daughter disappeared.

“On Oct. 6, 1978, they (by military henchmen) kidnapped my daughter, who was eight months pregnant,” Roisinblit said. In time, Roisinblit learned that her daughter was taken to the most notorious of all the dictatorship’s secret torture centers, the Naval Mechanics School in Buenos Aires.”

Since 1978, Rosa Tarlovsky de Roisinblit has waged a relentless search to find her daughter, Patricia, who was kidnapped by military henchmen and never seen again. Twelve years ago, Roisinblit did find Patricia’s son, who is now in his 30s.

Rosa, and other women whose pregnant daughters also disappeared make up a famous human rights group called the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo.Their goal over the last 35 years had been to locate their missing grandchildren, many of whom the dictatorship turned over to military officers to raise, and to bring those who oversaw the thefts and the murders to trial. And this past week at least some of those responsible for these heinous crimes were punished when a judge in Argentina read out the 50-year prison term handed down to former dictator Jorge Rafael Videla.

In addition to Videla, the court sentenced Reynaldo Bignone, the last of the junta’s dictators, to a 15-year term. A half-dozen other military figures received prison terms ranging from 14 to 40 years.

Long before most of Argentina believed that the military’s henchmen were kidnapping babies, a group of mothers whose children had been kidnapped had formed to find out what happened to their loved ones.They came to the conclusion that their children had been murdered but that they had likely given birth while in secret torture centers. They then founded the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo.

Their goal over the last 35 years had been to locate their missing grandchildren, many of whom the dictatorship turned over to military officers to raise, and to bring those who oversaw the thefts and the murders to trial.

Elsa Sanchez de Oesterheld, 87, looks at pictures of her four daughters who were killed by the military dictatorship. Two of the daughters were pregnant when they were seized, but Oesterheld still does not know what happened to the babies.

While I admire these women and their determination, my heart also breaks for them. May God bless and comfort the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo!