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Hebe Pastor de Bonafini (born December 4, 1928) is an Argentine activist, one of the founders of the Association of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo,[1] an organization of Argentine mothers whose children were disappeared during the Dirty War.[2][3][4]

Hebe de Bonafini
Hebe de Bonafini 2015 (cropped).jpg
Born (1928-12-04) December 4, 1928 (age 89)
La Plata
Nationality Argentine
Title President of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo
Term since 1979
Spouse(s) Humberto Alfredo Bonafini (d. 1982)
Children Jorge Omar
Raúl Alfredo
María Alejandra Bonafini
Parent(s) Francisco Pastor and Josefa Bogetti


Life and timesEdit

Born Hebe María Pastor in Ensenada, Buenos Aires Province, her mother was of Piedmontese origin and her father from the Spanish region of León; she was raised in La Plata, and attended school through the eighth grade. In 1942, she married Humberto Alfredo Bonafini, of Lombard origin, worked as a seamstress, and raised three children.

The Dirty War cost the life of her elder son, Jorge Omar, on February 8, 1977, of her other son, Raúl Alfredo, on December 6, and of her daughter-in-law, María Elena Bugnone Cepeda, on May 25, 1978.

As president of the Mothers Association since 1979, Bonafini has spoken out in defense of her concept of human rights, both in Argentina and abroad, gaining international recognition; she received the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education in 1999.

Adopting the rallying cry of Aparición con vida (Make them appear alive) in 1980, Bonafini demanded an immediate accounting of all of the forced disappearances, including her sons. Amid a gradual loosening of restrictions, she organized a March of Resistance along the Avenida de Mayo on December 10, 1982. This event marked the first time the group marched outside the namesake Plaza de Mayo, and the first time it was joined by large crowds of sympathizers.[5]

Following the return to civilian rule in 1983, divisions began to develop in the organization relating to what they believed to be President Raúl Alfonsín's overly cautious progress in prosecuting Dirty War perpetrators. Alfonsín established the 1985 Trial of the Juntas; but the decision to limit the proceedings to nine leading military junta members, as well as the acquittals handed to five of these, further antagonized Bonafini, who believed the president would forego further prosecutions for political considerations. The Mothers Association split in 1986, establishing two groups of around 2,000 members each: Bonafini's Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association, and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo — Founding Line. Bonafini has generally been identified with the more radical faction, choosing to justify the methods undertaken by guerrillas during the last dictatorship.[5]

On the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Bonafini generated international controversy when she defended the actions of the terrorist airline hijackers saying "I felt that there were many people in that moment who were happy and felt that the blood of so many in that moment were avenged... because the NATO bombings, the blockades and the millions of children who die of hunger in this world, that was due to this power that those men attacked, with their own bodies. And everyone knew it." Bonafini stands behind her support to organizations accused of terrorism such as FARC.[6] Walter Wendelin (eu), leader of the etarran Askapena organization, was invited as guest teacher in the University of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo.[7]

Journalist Horacio Verbitsky criticized her support of the terrorist attacks, and Bonafini replied that "Verbitsky is a servant of the United States. He receives wages from the Ford Foundation and, besides being Jewish, he is completely Americophile."[8] She was accused of antisemitism, but denied it by saying that she merely intended to describe Verbitsky as an American agent.[8] Verbitsky requested the tapes of the interview to the magazine that published them, and confirmed that Bonafini indeed said what the magazine had reported she said.[8]

She generated more controversy in 2005 by stating that, as Pope John Paul II "committed many sins, he [would] go to hell." She added that she "didn't say more than what the Roman Catholic Church taught me."[9]

The relationship of the Néstor and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administrations with Hebe de Bonafini has been very close. President Néstor Kirchner received Bonafini at the Casa Rosada within days of his May 25, 2003, inaugural, and regularly consulted her during his tenure.[10][11]

Bonafini announced on January 2006 that her organization would discontinue its annual March of Resistance out of recognition for President Néstor Kirchner's success in having the Full Stop Law and Law of Due Obedience (two Alfonsín-era measures which had effectively ended most Dirty War prosecutions) declared unconstitutional.[12] The Association of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, led by Bonafini, has benefited from increased government funding during the Kirchner administrations, and has extended its influence through a newspaper (La Voz de las Madres), a radio station, and a university (Popular University of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo).[13]

The association also manages a federally funded housing program, Sueños Compartidos ("Shared Dreams"), which by 2008 oversaw construction of over 2,600 housing units earmarked for slum residents.[14] Sueños Compartidos had completed 5,600 housing units and numerous other facilities in six provinces and the City of Buenos Aires by 2011.[15][16] Its growing budgets, which totaled around US$300 million allocated between 2008 and 2011 (of which $190 million had been spent), came under scrutiny and generated nationwide controversy when a suspected case of embezzlement by the Chief Financial Officer of Sueños Compartidos, Sergio Schoklender, and his brother Pablo (the firm's attorney) arose.[16] The Schoklender brothers, who were convicted in 1981 for the murder of their parents and spent fifteen years in prison, had gained Bonafini's confidence and managed the project's finances with little oversight from either the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo or the program's licensor, the Secretary of Public Works. Their friendship ended in June 2011, however, after Bonafini became aware of irregularities in their handling of the group's finances.[17] Following an investigation ordered by Federal Judge Norberto Oyarbide (es), the Secretary of Public Works canceled the Sueños Compartidos contract in August and transferred the outstanding projects to the Undersecretary of Housing and Urban Development.[16]

Hebe de Bonafini has expressed support for figures such as Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Augusto Sandino, Yasser Arafat, Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales, and the mothers of ETA prisoners. She has declared herself against social democracy, capitalism, neo-liberalism, globalization, and the International Monetary Fund.[13] She has also attacked Bolivian protesters for occupying Plaza de Mayo, calling them "shitty"; and suggested seizing the Supreme Court by force at the delays of the application of the Audiovisual Media Law.[18]


Hebe de Bonafini (third from left) and other laureates of the May Revolution Human Rights Extraordinary Prize, with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.


  1. ^ Madres de Plaza de Mayo (in Spanish)
  2. ^ Festivaletteratura, Authors' Archive. Hebe de Bonafini Archived 2005-11-05 at the Wayback Machine..
  3. ^ New Internationalist, May 2003. Interview with David Ransom Archived 2005-07-22 at the Wayback Machine..
  4. ^ Punto Final. Entre la lucha y los recuerdos.
  5. ^ a b Bennett, Adam, Ludlow, Marcee, and Reed, Christopher. Madres de Plaza de Mayo. University of Texas Archived 2011-07-20 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Hebe de Bonafini respaldó a guerrilleros de las FARC", Infobae, 2008 (in Spanish).
  7. ^ "Supuesto líder de ETA trabajó en Argentina con Hebe de Bonafini". Infobae. October 7, 2010. Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Verbitsky, Horacio. "La ciénaga del antisemitismo y la mentira". Página/12.
  9. ^ Clarín, 13 April 2005. "Bonafini cargó duro contra las Abuelas, Juan Pablo II y Blumberg".
  10. ^ La Nación: Kirchner recibió a Hebe de Bonafini en la Casa Rosada (in Spanish)
  11. ^ Clarín, 26 December 2006. "Kirchner recibió a Hebe de Bonafini en Casa de Gobierno".
  12. ^ Clarín: Bonafini anunció que las Madres harán la última Marcha de la Resistencia (in Spanish)
  13. ^ a b "Hebe de Bonafini S.A.: Cuando el dolor sirve para ganar dinero y poder". Patagones Noticias.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Página/12: "Las Madres y su construcción de sueños" (in Spanish)
  15. ^ "Podrían denunciar plan de viviendas de Madres de Plaza de Mayo". El Intransigente.
  16. ^ a b c "Les quitan a las madres el manejo del plan de viviendas". La Nación. Archived from the original on 2011-10-09.
  17. ^ "Bonafini says Schoklenders are 'scammers, traitors'". Buenos Aires Herald.
  18. ^ "Las frases más polémicas de Bonafini". June 10, 2011. Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  19. ^ Diversas personalidades celebraron el Doctorado Honoris Causa otorgado por la UNEY a Hebe de Bonafini Archived 2011-09-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ Hebe de Bonafini recibirá el Doctorado Honoris Causa Archived 2011-09-28 at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ Condecoración a mujeres Archived 2011-08-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ Reconocimientos Liberarte/2006
  23. ^ Hebe de Bonafini recibirá orden Heroínas de Venezuela[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ Hebe de Bonafini fue declarada Embajadora Cultural y Social de los Jóvenes Archived 2011-10-06 at the Wayback Machine.
  25. ^ Distinción y emoción en los premios de Veintitrés Archived 2010-01-25 at the Wayback Machine.
  26. ^ La Presidenta anunció la creación del Ministerio de Seguridad, que estará a cargo de la Dra. Nilda Garré
  27. ^ Hebe de Bonafini recibió el Premio Rodolfo Walsh Archived 2011-09-20 at the Wayback Machine.
  28. ^ El protagonismo del micrófono
  29. ^ "Hebe de Bonafini condecorada en Italia". Archived from the original on 2013-12-20. Retrieved 2014-02-09.

External linksEdit