Plaza de Mayo

From Academic Kids

The Plaza de Mayo (Plaza of May) is the main square in downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina; it is flanked by Hipólito Yrigoyen, Balcarce, Rivadavia and Bolívar Streets. Around the Plaza, the visitor will find several of the city's major landmarks: the historical Cabildo (the city council during the colonial era), the Casa Rosada (home of the executive branch of the federal government), the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires, the current town hall or municipalidad, and the headquarters of the Banco Nación bank. The Buenos Aires financial district (microcentro), affectionally known as the City lies besides the Plaza.

The Plaza de Mayo has always been the focal point of the political life of Buenos Aires. Its current name commemorates the revolution of May 1810, which started the process towards the country's independence from Spain in 1816.

On October 17, 1945, mass demonstrations in the Plaza de Mayo organised by the CGT trade union federation forced the release from prison of Juan Perón who later become president of Argentina. Since then, the Peronist movement gathered yearly in the Plaza de Mayo to celebrate the communion with the Leader. Many other presidents, both democratic and military, have also saluted, from the Casa Rosada balcony, the populace gathered in the Plaza. Successful soccer player also enjoyed that privilege.

In 1955 the Plaza de Mayo was bombed by lanes of a military faction trying to overthrow Perón, killing over 300 bystanders and wounding many more. Although the coup was aborted, three months later, the Libertadora revolution succeeded and staged its own demonstration in the same Plaza that used to be a symbol of Peronism.

Years later, in 1974, Perón, then president for the third time, expelled from the Plaza the members of Montoneros, an armed organisation that tried to influence the political orientation of the national government.

Crowds gathered once again on April 2, 1982 to hail President Leopoldo Galtieri for starting the Falklands War.

Since the late 1970s, this is where the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo have congregated with signs and pictures of their "disappeared" children – taken from them by the Argentine military during the period known as the Dirty War. The Argentine military was anticommunist and believed that the best way to get rid of the communist threat was to get rid of the people who supported Marxism. These people would be taken away by the military and raped, tortured and murdered and their bodies would be disposed of secretly. The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo knew what was going on and marched in the Plaza to open the public's eyes to what their military was doing and to try to find out what happened to their children. However, for many years the military called them las locas – "the crazy mothers of the Plaza de Mayo". The mothers would often wear white scarves with the names of their missing children.

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