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Smith College

Publication Date

Fall 2010

Program Name

Argentina: Social Movements and Human Rights


A military coup in March of 1976 led to a military dictatorship in Argentina that lasted until 1983. During the dictatorship, people the government considered “dissidents” became in danger of being a desaparecido, or one of the “disappeared.” The government systematically kidnapped, tortured, and killed people who were seen as a threat to the “Argentine way of life.” Although the kidnappings occasionally occurred in front of the family of the victim, the torturing and killing were all done secretly.

To bring attention to what had happened, mothers of the “disappeared” began publicly demonstrating and questioning the government about what had been done to their children and where their children were now. These women began the organization Madres de Plaza de Mayo, which has grown to become one of the most famous human rights organizations in Argentina. The Madres had many public demonstrations during the dictatorship, a dangerous time to act against the government. These women received attention for speaking out against the government at such a dangerous time and also for changing their role as housewives who were not involved politically to some of the most political people in the nation.

This investigation is about the husbands of these women: the fathers of the “disappeared.” I attempt to understand the difference of the militancy of the fathers of the “disappeared” from the mothers and why there is a difference. I discuss the advantages the Madres de Plaza de Mayo received without the help of their husbands as well as the militancy of the fathers that was not as public. My research attempts to understand the life of a father of one of the “disappeared” and how they chose to deal with their pain in a less public manner.


Latin American Studies | Personality and Social Contexts


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