The two most visible leaders of the Grandmothers and Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo have been butting heads publicly over contrasting stances on what the relationship should look like between their respective organizations and the Macri administration. The social media war seems to have started when Hebe de Bonafini, the controversial head of the more radicalized faction of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, called the president of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Estela de Carlotto, a “traitor” for signing a cooperation agreement with Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal yesterday.
Carlotto responded saying that the statement was “painful” and, in a reference to the close ideological relationship Bonafini has with former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, argued that people must show “democratic conscience,” rather than “fanaticism.” The timing of the controversy is also an important factor to consider, with the comments taking place on the eve and on the day of Argentina’s national Day of Truth and Remembrance, commemorating the beginning of the last military dictatorship, the darkest period in modern Argentine history.
The feud appears to have come to a head when Bonafini reacted to an agreement signed by the Vidal administration and the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, which establishes that Carlotto and a group of recovered grandchildren will work along side the provincial government in the area of human rights policy. “This is historic, a [an act of] restitution and a huge gain for the Grandmothers. We don’t have hatred or desire for vengeance, nor do we want to get back at anyone, we just want justice,” Carlotto said in a ceremony held in the provincial Congress after signing the agreement.
Bonafini didn’t reach the same conclusion. During the Mothers’ traditional march around the Plaza de Mayo that takes place every Thursday, she said: “I want to talk a bit about treason. Estela de Carlotto signed an agreement with Vidal, a murderer, a woman who is starving a lot of people, who gives rotten food to kids who go to soup kitchens. I don’t know how they can negotiate with her.”
The head of Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association went on to say that, in her opinion “the entire government is the enemy, there’s no one who can be spared [from that judgement].” “The difference gets more and more firm with time. It’s a political difference… we are a political organization. Now we have a party, because our party is Kirchnerism,” she added.
Carlotto’s answer came on the Day of Truth and Remembrance itself. In an interview with TV channel C5N, she said she was surprised by the comment but was clear that Bonafini “can say what she wants.”
“It’s painful. It sets a very bad example. I’m sorry for her,” Carlotto added.
“We must have democratic conscience, not fanaticism,” she said. “When people vote and choose a government, respect must be absolute. Whether one likes it or not, everyone has to adapt,” she said in an attempt to provide context for her decision to sign the agreement with the Vidal administration.
Moreover, Carlotto clarified that she doesn’t have a relationship with Bonafini outside of politics due to differences in how they express their opinions: “she’s a mother, a colleague, she shares the same pain [we do], but she has a different methodology,” Carlotto said. Hebe was never one for diplomacy and historically prefers to communicate her thoughts with incendiary language that leaves no room for misinterpretations. Many remember her threats to “blow up” the Casa Rosada after the City of Buenos Aires government set up signs in the Plaza de Mayo.
- Read more: Hebe de Bonafini Reacts To Signs Placed On Plaza De Mayo: “I Will Blow Up The Casa Rosada”
Despite Hebe’s assessment that Carlotto committed a traitorous act by signing an agreement with the Buenos Aires provincial government, the head of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo is quick to criticize the Macri administration for their inaction in respect to human rights issues. Carlotto went on air today saying she was “upset” with the “indifference” that, in her opinion, the president [Macri] has shown human rights organizations since taking office. “He only met with us once. That hurts, we want to tell him what the people need,” said Carlotto, who, however, clarified that she has a good relationship other government officials in charge of dealing with matters that are closer to the Grandmothers’ activities, such as Justice Minister Germán Garavano and Human Rights Secretary Claudio Avruj.