Sunday, 6 July 2014

Argentina: Mothers' headscarf recognised as national symbol

The white headscarf worn by the Madres de Plaza de Mayo has been declared an Argentina national symbol by the country's chamber of deputies.

A little bit of background: the mothers looking for their children in the early, and extremely dangerous, years of the dictatorship needed a way of identifying each other. They chose a white cloth nappy (diaper) to wear on their heads, but this soon developed into the proper headscarf, often with the name of their child embroidered on it. The mothers of the Linea Fundadora group (see image above) still wear these, but the Asociación Madres do not single out any one of the disappeared over the others. The headscarves are now painted on the square in the front of the Casa Rosada where the mothers have been gathering for over 30 years.

The initiative of Leonardo Grosso (FPV) was backed by 176 deputies, while seven voted against and four abstained. 

There has been some opposition to the move on social media, however, with users drawing attention to the links between the Madres group and the Kirchner regime, and the allegations of corruption the Madres have been linked with.

An editorial in La Nación also criticises the decision as one of "political correctness" and accuses it of fostering division in the country rather than reconciliation.

I do see the headscarf as an important symbol for Argentina, but I cannot deny that the reputation of the Madres (by which I am referring to the Asociación Madres led by Hebe Bonafini) has suffered in recent years. The group has broadened its mandate very significantly from a focus on justice for the disappeared to education and explicit political aims. It has also been linked with a shady housing scheme. It's hardly surprising if these things stick in people's minds more than, or alongside, the original uses of the iconic headscarf.

El pañuelo blanco de las Madres (Pagina/12)
Siete diputadas opositoras rechazaron declarar “emblema nacional” al pañuelo de las Madres (Telam)
Los pañuelos de las Madres de Plaza de Mayo serán símbolos patrios (La Gaceta)
Un nuevo e inaceptable emblema oficial de la Nación (La Nación)

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