The Mothers of The Plaza de Mayo

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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           The one area that fascinates me the most about International Affairs is the Human Rights perspective.  So when we began to discuss the Mothers of the Plaza De Mayo in class and were assigned the readings I was extremely excited as well as enthralled. 


            Every time I learn about a story like this I think how could I and the world around me not have known about this and why did everyone just sit idly by.  I realize it is a little more complicated than that and that I still don’t know the entire story and I could not even begin to fathom what it would be like to experience what that these mothers experienced. But why had someone not already informed me.  I felt very uneducated about the world that I live in and I was eager to learn more about the mothers´ story.


            I was emmensly fascinated by the fact that it was just a an older generatoin of women (two characteristics you normally don´t find in activists) that became human rights activists in order to achieve their goal. They have been fighting now for almost three decades, for the right to re-unite with their dissapered children.


            I loved reading about the Mother’s story.  About how this group of mothers were formed and about how they stood up for a cause they believed in so passionately. Standing up for what you believe in and fighting for a cause when you face so many adversaries is something that I admire and that I find incredibly encouraging. 


            I was somewhat shocked to be able to actually witness these protests that I kept reading about in the articles.  Because as I was reading it seemed as if their story took place many worlds ago. As with any human rights atrocity I find it difficult to comprehend how these situations can still erupt today. How can we still use torture techniques and how can things like genocide actually occur and be maintained for periods of time in our world today.


            Seeing the grandmothers walk around the Plaza de Mayo last Thursday helped me to better understand who they are. Being able to put a face with these ¨historical figures¨ made me realize just how important their mission was and how they are still able to impact society with their protest every Thursday.


            Although the group of mothers has shrunk since the days of the dirty war, they still wear white scarves and carry signs as the circle the statue in the plaza de mayo. They were always a persistent group and as they grew in size they became even more demanding.  In the 80´s they began to demand answers from the new government as to where they could find their disappeared children.


            Later in the 1980´s the mothers split into two distinct groups as some of the mothers took on more radical objectives. The two groups that formed where the Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo ( led by Hebe de Bonafini) and the Madres de Plaza de Mayo • Línea  Fundadora.  The former takes a more radical political approach while the later focuses on just recovering their lost ones and bringing those responsible to justice.  The Asociacion Madres de Plaza de Mayo held their last resistence march in January of this year.  Although the tradition is still carried out by the grandmothers, and like this past thursday you will most likely be able to see it again this thursday.


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            One of the first things I notice after just spending a little bit of time here, was that Argentines take a different kind of approach to life. It is a kind of lifestyle though that I can admire and respect and really only dream of.  I feel that as Americans we are extremely concerned with convenience. We like fast food and we like our coffee in a ¨togo¨ cup.


            First of all I have yet to find any coffee served in a styrofoam cup. In order to drink your coffee you must do it sitting down in a café or in your home. However the Argentines do always carry their Mate with them. And to most of us from the States, the idea of having to carry around a non disposable gourd (that doesn’t have a lid) and a thermos of hot water and having to constantly keep refilling and refilling seems almost exhausting and not at all worth the trouble. But this is not the way the Argentines think.


            I have noticed so many wooden baskets in the bakeries. How often do you see someone in the States go to a bakery with a basket. The question we are so familiar with is  ¨paper or plastic.¨  The plastic or paper bags are easy to carry and even easier to dispose of. In the States we have a tendency to stay focused on our work and on our careers and we are tied to our cell phones and email accounts. I know the residents here are reliant on their electronics as well and work really hard but they also know how to enjoy life and appreciate those around them.


            Not only are the Argentines not so focused on convenience but they take the time to enjoy all the little things in life. They greet each other with warmth and they greet each other genuinely.  I know sometimes I am so rushed that I don’t take the time to say how are you if I see a friend on the way to class. I say hello and give them a friendly smile and keep on speed walking. This is something I want to change.


            One of my goals on this trip was to not worry about all the little things that I worry about in Atlanta and try to find the balance between work and play.  And focus on the things that will actually matter in the long run. Like spending quality time with friends and getting to know someone at a level that is meaningful. 


            I have only been in Buenos Aires a little over a week and I of course would have a very  different perspective if I grew up here or even lived here for an extended period of time.  But I am convinced that if I moved here my lifestyle would be changed (for the better).  So far I have taken a lot in and tried to experience a lot but I know there is still so much to see and many more people to meet and learn from. So on Monday I am going to take a different route to class and it may not be the most convenient one.

I knew that soccer was big in South America but I never understood that Soccer was a way of life for the people here.  Not only is it a big deal for the players but it is a big deal for the fans as well. We of course have our die hard football and basketball fans, but I think they pale in comparison to those fans that I saw at the Boca soccer game.


It is hard for me to comprehend the level of intensity related to soccer here in Argentina. Mainly because I do play soccer and I grew up watching soccer and it was a part of my life . I was also very competitive at times. I do have a great appreciation for the sport but when it comes down to it soccer was just that, a sport, a game, a recreational activity. And you left all the frustrations and politics on the field when you walked off.  This is not the case in Argentina and other South American countries.  Soccer is South America’s grand passion. For people here, soccer can be a way of life and this is something I failed to understand.


The fans idealize their favorite soccer players, just like all sports fans idealize their favorite players but here it some how seems more passionate. They have a great deal of respect for their players and most young boys could only dream of playing for Boca or River. I don’t exactly keep up with soccer, especially in South America but I have even heard of Mardona and I get the impression that he will always be important to not only Argentine soccer history but to Argentine history in general.


The Boca soccer game that we attended was a production and an event all in itself. I realize that it was a championship game but I was still amazed at all the ¨festivities.¨ I mean they set off fireworks before the game even began, they had not even won yet! The fans never stopped cheering and I thought this made the game even more enjoyable. I had fun at the soccer game and I enjoyed watching the die hard #12 fans.


In a cab on the way over to the asado Friday night the word Boca was mentioned and the cab driver was very unhappy about that. So the tourists that we are decided we would let him teach us all the River songs that he knew. And so he did and we spent the entire cab ride singing River fan songs.  Would this happen in a cab in Atlanta regarding any sports team? I am not convinced it would.


I was in a small store the other day and along beside the row of hangers that they were selling was a framed plaque that stated (in Spanish, so the translation is not exact) Soccer is my world and I will forever love soccer. I found this odd considering this was in no way an athletic store.  They sold basic household utilities such as hangers and brooms and apparently die hard soccer plaques.


Watching the video and doing the readings has been a complete eye opener for me. Well first of all I never knew how or where the sport originated so this was fascinating to learn. But mainly I learned the level of intensity of the fans and players of soccer. I believe at one point during one of the videos, the soccer ball was compared to the sun and it was declared that the inventor of soccer should be worshiped as a god.  This right here explains the passion and enthusiasm of soccer fans in South America.

There are very few people out there that have not heard of the Tango.  Everyone has heard the expression ¨it takes two to tango,¨ but how many of those people would be able to actually tango or even be able to show you or explain to you the principle steps. I know I couldn’t. Just about all I could tell you about a tango show prior to my first actual show was that the tango is a Latin American dance.


However I would not have been able to tell you that the Tango is a dance form  that actually originated in Buenos Aires. And that not only is the Tango a dance but the music that is played while you dance is also referred to as ¨tango¨. 


After seeing the authentic Argentine tango that came to Atlanta this past spring I was drawn into the world of Tango. I was extremely impressed and fascinated by the dance styles as well as the music styles that were played at the show. The level of talent that existed on the stage was phenomenal. The production was very plain, and there were not a lot of fancy costumes or stage props. But the dancers were extremely talented and did not need any help from props to entertain the audience.


Senor Tango was a very different production from the Tango I saw in Atlanta.  It had more ¨entertaining¨ aspects and I was in fact very entertained. At the show in Buenos Aires they used a rotating stage and lights to fascinate the audience. And we can’t forget the use of confetti that everyone apparently loves  here in Buenos Aires. My favorite part of the show was definitely the part when the guy was hanging from the ceiling and he lifted the girl off the stage. It just took so much strength and concentration and I was thoroughly impressed.  I liked the use of the costumes and stage props to tell a story. I felt like they led the audience through a period of Argentine history. And who can forget the horse on the very small stage!


There were of course similar aspects in both of the shows. Each show followed the same basic layout. Some dancing then some singing then some music and repeat. And towards the end both shows began to get a little racier as the dancers wore less clothing.  Of course both shows required a great deal of talent from the dancers to the musicians to the singers.  I am amazed at the strength of the dancers. The girls are extremely fit and I just don’t understand how they were able to move their feet that fast! 


Even though I was partial to the more subtle Tango, I loved both of them and enjoyed every second of both. And I believe on Tuesday when I attempt to take Tango lessons I will have an even greater appreciation for the dance because I will finally understand the talent that it takes.

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