A court indicted Hebe de Bonafini, the head of the more radicalized faction of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, yesterday along with the former head of the organization’s eponymous foundation, Sergio Schoklender, for allegedly defrauding the State. In his ruling, Federal Judge Marcelo Martínez de Giori found that the two were involved in the alleged embezzlement of part of the funds that the State gave the foundation to build social housing in the early 2000’s. More than AR$ 200 million, specifically.
In contrast, the judge determined that there was no evidence to indict other former officials accused of being involved, such as former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, former Ministers of Planning and Labor Julio De Vido and Carlos Tomada, respectively, and several governors, in whose provinces the project wasn’t developed like it should have.
Bonafini didn’t take long to address the news and, unsurprisingly, assured that President Mauricio Macri — who she has made extremely clear she is not fond of — is behind the decision. In a video published in the Mother’s youtube channel, Hebe argued that her indictment comes as a retaliation from the government “for having said that Macri is our enemy.”
“It is clear this is the price we are paying for having said Macri is the enemy when no one even thought that was the case, for having stayed in the Plaza [de Mayo] from December 9 to 10 [2015, the day Macri took office] so he wouldn’t set foot in the Plaza, which is the people’s, and for denouncing that he and his officials took part of the dictatorship with their companies,” said Bonafini, who added that she is “willing to pay that price.”
“This is the price. The Judicial branch, not justice, is indicting me. I’m extremely honored for being indicted by this Branch and this government. Thank you Macri, for awarding me this honor or being indicted,” she added, in a not very subtle manner.
Regarding the case itself, she assured she has a “very clean conscience.” “We will continue accusing those who, in this government, are sadistic, thieves, and the worst we could ever imagined,” she finished.
Schoklender, however, didn’t share Bonafini’s analysis. He admitted “there’s money that’s not there,” and said it’s a result of the foundation not paying its workers’ salaries’ contributions to the state. Nonetheless, he assured he is innocent and pointed his finger straight to Hebe: “Fortunately, she has been indicted and will have to explain herself,” he said.
The last time a case with this high of a profile made the headlines was in August last year, when judge Martínez de Giorgi ordered Hebe be taken into custody for refusing to testify before him. His decision generated an immediate reaction from Bonafini’s supporters — Victory Front (FpV) representatives included — who rushed to the organization’s headquarters to prevent police from taking her.
A procession of supporters protected her as she left the organization’s building to lead the traditional march the Madres conduct every Thursday in Plaza de Mayo. “The Mothers will continue standing our ground. We won’t give up Macri, so calm down,” she said back then. As a result of this, police informed the judge that it wasn’t convenient to forcefully take her, and he ended up questioning her in the organization’s kitchen, like she initially wanted.