It’s hard to search for sources about a government without freedom of press…

Hello again from Buenos Aires, Argentina! I’ve been down here hiding in the hemeroteca, or newspaper archives, searching for primary sources that I can incorporate into qualitative analysis of the activism of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo. I decided to start by looking at La Prensa and La Nación, two of the most widely read and most respected news sources in Argentina. Both have been around for a long time and are known for being reliable sources— comparable to the New York Times or Washington Post. However, I was having a lot of trouble finding any articles or editorials that mentioned the Madres, even around the days when I know marches or incidents occurred from reading biographies about the Madres. I quickly realized that the issue here wasn’t my Spanish reading skills, but rather that the most powerful and widely read newspapers in Argentina during the time of the dictatorship were under the thumb of the army and would not publish news about any resistance.

So, I decided to seek out another newspaper source: the Buenos Aires Herald. I had read in Margeurite Feitlowitz’s A Lexicon of Terror that this small newspaper, the only English-language daily in Buenos Aires, published about the Madres from fairly early on. So, I went searching for the stories myself— and found it! On December 1st, 1977, the newspaper reported on the “Mad Mothers” congregating in the Plaza. Later, throughout the World Cup, they reported on incidents between the Madres and the police that I never read about in other sources. I couldn’t believe I finally found them!

Now that I’d found the Madres, it was time to start looking for sources throughout Argentina’s post-dictatorship history. I wanted to look through more newspaper sources, but I can’t squander my time reading every newspaper from 1983 to today— so I made a selected list of months and weeks that are relevant to my research question and decided to read a handful of different sources from every time selected. I chose dates that were significant in the history of the Madres (such as their schism), human rights in general (such as passage and annulment of impunity laws), economic history or international finance (such as Argentina’s 2001 default). I’ve already found some interesting sources and opinions, and hopefully this will allow me to collect as much relevant information as possible in an efficient manner.

Next week, after finishing up this search, I’m headed to the Buenos Aires Provincial Police Force archives at the Provincial Commission for Memory to search for police documents about the Madres and other economic justice activism. Stay tuned for what I find there.

Comments

  1. Your experience sounds amazing! I like how you didn’t give up when faced obstacles and trying hard to find your own stories. I look forward to see more of your updates.

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