Hebe de Bonafini, Historic President of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo has Passed Away

November 20, 2022

Hebe de Bonafini, photo: Bill Hackwell

The president of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, Hebe de Bonafini, died this today at the age of 93 in Argentina.

Bonafini had been discharged on October 13, after having been hospitalized for three days at the Italian Hospital in the city of La Plata for medical check-ups. She continued with medical check-ups for a few weeks until they decided to hospitalize her again on Saturday, November 12, according to official sources who were closely following the health of the leader of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Association.

After her death, the government of Argentina decreed three days of mourning in “homage to Hebe, her memory and her struggle which will always be present as a guide in difficult moments”.

President Alberto Fernández, communicated the Casa Rosada Twitter, “bids farewell with deep sorrow and respect to Hebe de Bonafini, Mother of Plaza de Mayo and tireless fighter for human rights.”

“Dearest Hebe, Mother of Plaza de Mayo, worldwide symbol of the struggle for Human Rights, pride of Argentina. God called you on the day of National Sovereignty… it must not be a coincidence. Simply thank you and goodbye,” wrote Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner as a farewell.

The Human Rights Secretariat, meanwhile, shared in a Twitter thread its “deep sorrow for the death of Hebe de Bonafini, emblematic figure of the struggle for human rights in Argentina and the world.”

Since the disappearance of two of her children during the last civil-military dictatorship, the organization recalled, “Hebe shared with the Mothers a destiny that united them in the fight against impunity for the crimes of state terrorism, resisting in the face of silence and oblivion.” During that time over 30,000 primarily young people were killed or disappeared in Argentina

“Her life and her work, her example of commitment and dedication to popular causes, constitute a legacy that will accompany us forever, guiding us on the path of the defense of Human Rights and Memory, Truth and Justice but also of the fight against impunity and neoliberalism,” added the portfolio led by Horacio Pietragalla.

Bonafini was born in 1928 in a working class neighborhood in the town of Ensenada and on December 4 she would have been 94 years old.

On December 29, 1942, at the age of 14, she married Humberto Alfredo Bonafini, with whom she had three children: Jorge Omar, Raúl Alfredo and María Alejandra.

On February 8, 1977, during the civil-military dictatorship, her son Jorge Omar was kidnapped and disappeared in La Plata. On December 6 of the same year, the same thing happened to Raúl Alfredo, in Berazategui. A year later, on May 25, 1978, the military dictatorship also kidnapped and disappeared her daughter-in-law, María Elena Bugnone Cepeda, Jorge’s wife.

In 1979, she became the president of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Association and has since been recognized as a tireless human rights activist.

Family press release

It is with great sorrow that we inform that today at 9:20 a.m. Hebe de Bonafini passed away. We are very grateful for the demonstrations of love, support and concern that my mother has received during these days of hospitalization at the Italian Hospital in the city of La Plata, as well as throughout her militant career.

These are very difficult moments of deep sadness and we understand the love of the people for Hebe, but at this moment as a family we have the need to mourn the Mother of Plaza de Mayo, Hebe, in intimacy, so we will be informing everyone tomorrow where the tributes and remembrances will take place.

There are no words to express my deepest gratitude to the medical team that for so many years assisted and cared for her, as well as to the medical team, nurses, assistants and directors of the Italian Hospital of La Plata, who during the days of her hospitalization were at my mother’s side, caring for her with much love and respect.

We will continue to meet Hebe in the Plaza and in the struggles of the people!

Alejandra Bonafini: Between health and militancy

In October, Hebe was hospitalized at the Italian Hospital in the city of La Plata for medical check-ups. “After 3 days of hospitalization in a general ward and several studies for the readjustment of the treatment of her chronic illnesses, with a very good mood and the invaluable strength that characterizes her, the Great Hebe returns home”, the Buenos Aires Minister of Health, Nicolás Kreplak, had informed on October 13.

The week prior to her hospitalization, the leader had led the march that she carries out every Thursday, and on that occasion they had invited high school students to give a presentation on the school takeovers in the city of Buenos Aires.

The day before that activity, on Wednesday, October 5, Bonafini had attended the Kirchner Cultural Center (CCK) to attend the inauguration of the photographic exhibition that showed in images her biography, entitled “Hebe de Bonafini, una madre rev/belada” (Hebe de Bonafini, a mother rev/believed).

At the presentation, she referred to her history and that of her family, and expressed her gratitude upon seeing the photos that captured moments of her life and those of her sons Jorge Omar and Raúl Alfredo, kidnapped and disappeared by the civil-military dictatorship. “I forgot who I was the day they disappeared, I never thought about myself again,” she said at the time.

Reviewing her biography, she said that her parents and grandmother had taught her “the value of work” while her disappeared children taught her “what politics is”.

Source: Cuba en Resumen