A few weeks back, Colin posted on one of the Madres, Zaida Franz, celebrating the identification of the remains of her disappeared daughter. It does not surprise us that this Mother would feel a sense of closure and relief at this discovery.
But after the military Junta fell in 1983, the Madres seriously debated whether or not to accept their disappeared children’s remains from the government. After a number of very contentious debates, the human rights group decided to oppose the unearthing of remains of the disappeared. Opposition stemmed from the fact that the government was simply handing out random skeletal remains to the Mother to silence them and “close the wounds” of the military’s reign. One mother reported that in 1984 she received a box from the government containing a partial human skeleton. An accompanying letter explained:
In response to your incessant search for your daughter Patricia, we have decided to send you part of her remains which should satisfy your anxiety to be reunited with your dear daughter…. This decisions was taken after an examination of her conduct as a member of a camp of armed guerrillas. In case you were unaware of them, we are listing the crimes that she committed with her husband Carlos Francesco:
-Betrayal of her country
-Concealing the activities of the enemy
-Collaborating actively with the Montonero assassins
For these reasons she was condemned to death. May God have mercy on her soul.
The Madre who received the package later verified that the remains belonged to a middle-aged male, not her youthful Patricia. Besides the attempts to close the door on the disappeared, the Mothers advocated keeping their children alive and bringing the military leaders to justice.
Since the 80s the process of finding the disappeared has become much more transparent and accurate, especially with the use of DNA testing. Still, the issue of bones has a long and painful history.