You are currently viewing Hebe’s Last Act: Struggle, Love, and Faith

The last march in Plaza de Mayo in which Hebe de Bonafini participated was last Thursday, November 10. As was the custom, she closed the round by speaking in the little tent located to the left of the pyramid. But apart from that regular liturgical meeting since 1977, her last large-scale public appearance had been ten days earlier, in Ensenada, a few blocks from El Dique, the neighborhood where she was born and raised. The municipality of the Buenos Aires town inaugurated the Parque de las Madres, an imposing space 350 meters long by 35 meters wide created as a memorial to the organization that Bonafini presided over.

Despite her delicate state of health, Hebe circled the park in her wheelchair and immediately took the stage afterwards. She listened attentively to the other speakers (the host mayor Mario Secco, her neighbor from Beris, Fabián Cagliardi, the Buenos Aires Undersecretary for Cultural Policies Victoria Onetto) and then they gave her the floor to close the event. There were thousands of people at the memorial and the murmur was inevitable. Although when she took the microphone, a respectful and poignant silence spread throughout the area.

It was no longer common to see her in this type of massive open-air event, so her presence meant an exception on the agenda of a woman who was two months away from turning 94. The amount of people made it difficult to find space, so I ended up positioning myself behind her, no more than two meters from her back. I regretted not being able to see her face, although that —I appreciate now— enabled me another perspective: I observed what she did, thousands of people attentive to each of her words with her veneration. That day, more than a formal inauguration of a public space, what we all had was an appointment with her History: the one that she will represent forever and ever.

Hebe always looked stripped down in any encounter that demanded her word. It seemed that, after hundreds of similar episodes, she had simply managed to disassociate herself from the context to finally be herself as she would be in an intimate conversation sharing some mates. And so it was that afternoon of October 1 in Ensenada, where in a relatively brief speech (about twelve minutes) she moved away from current affairs to review her own life.

The appointment in her hometown was surely what stimulated her to offer that biographical profile: “I love this town of Ensenada because I was born here. And I will not forget that my best teachers were here. First it was my parents, who taught me the value of work, of hands, of thinking for others. Then it was my teachers from the Dique school, who taught me to love the place, something that one sometimes does not realize. Because I was born here, but I also grew up, I learned, I dreamed, I got married”.

“There are not many of us who remain. We have many years, but sometimes we hardly realize it, ”she began by saying. “I thank you in the name of the Mothers who are no longer here, and I am going to name one, and in her all, who was Juanita de Pargament. She lived to be 101 years old and did not miss a single day at her place! That’s what Mothers are: we are tough, stubborn, capricious at times, if they want. But we always come up with crazy things.”

Notably moved, Hebe recognized that the park “exceeds everything one could think of”, since “it has what we Mothers always say: our commitment to every political act that we did from the guts and from the heart.”

“When I came here from my house, I thought that I forgot about myself from the moment they took my eldest son. I went out into the street like a wild madwoman, the Mothers did not yet exist. And until today I have not stopped. There is nothing to stop me ”, she harangued between tenderness and firmness before unforgettable applause. And she left a phrase that resounded days later in all the journalistic coverage of the event: “We have something very important of ours, which is the word. We don’t sell it. And when we do politics, let’s think carefully, because we’ve been doing politics since we got up, since we opened our eyes. That’s where the revolution begins, every morning. My children taught me. What am I going to do for the other today? That is the true political revolution of each one of us: to think of the other”.

Finally, and almost as if it were an accountability with herself, she acknowledged that she had managed to reconcile with the Catholic religion only when she grew up. A meeting with Pope Francis influenced this, but also the time she saw a poor boy going to the Basilica of the Virgin of Itatí in Corrientes after having lost his house not to ask, but to thank. That postcard expanded in her sensibility a perspective that she did not have until then, but from then on she expanded the narrative and symbolic arc of what she believed she should mobilize any struggle: “If you don’t believe… start believing . When we see thousands and millions of people who go on foot to Luján… how much value is the faith of the people who put so much love? Without faith and without love it is very difficult to live. Faith is pushing you, and we have to start taking it on our word”.

At the end of the act, we were all transfixed and mobilized by that battery of teachings that Hebe had invited us with an intense but clear, precise but entertaining oratory. The fighting Hebe, the mother Hebe, but fundamentally the person Hebe spoke to us that afternoon: the little girl who grew up in El Dique without thinking about the destiny that life had for her long after her. No one imagined that this would be her last massive act, the first-person review of who, that afternoon, was explicitly and bluntly inviting us to take the gauntlet of her legacy and continue it beyond her.

Source: Pagina12

Disclaimer: If you need to update/edit/remove this news or article then please contact our support team Learn more

Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a freelance writer working on news website. He contributes to Our Blog and more. Wise also works in higher ed sustainability and previously in stream restoration. He loves running, trees and hanging out with her family.

Leave a Reply