Argentinien: Olga del Valle Márquez de Arédez

I am the daughter of an indigenous native and a Spaniard. We, the indigenous people, have a mandate: to bury our dead so that they can rest in peace. And peace shall be with us.

— Olga del Valle Márquez de Arédez

Olga Márquez was born in Tucumán, a province of Northern Argentina. She married and lived with her husband in Jujuy, a neighboring province. Then, he ‘was disappeared,’ by the repressive forces of the Argentinean military dictatorship (1976-1983). Olga organized the resistance movement in Jujuy. Along with the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, she was in the vanguard of the fight for truth and justice, which was essential for bringing down the dictators.

In Argentina, the word ‘mothers’ has a powerful symbolic value. The Mothers are the women who, with a raging demand for truth and justice for the missing members of their families, organized a resistance movement against the dictatorship that was terrifying the country (1976-1983). Olga Márquez is one of the Mothers. Her husband is one of the ones who ‘disappeared.’ Olga was born and went to school in Tucumán, a province located in Northwest Argentina. There, she fell in love with a doctor. After their marriage, they moved to Ledesma, in Jujuy, a province that borders Tucumán. This is a region of sugarcane plantations–bitter sugar for the workers who were extremely poor and humiliated. The doctor took care of them and their children. Olga was always at his side. The political situation in the country got worse. One night, in 1976, the lights of the village of Ledesma were extinguished. Olga's husband and hundreds of workers and neighbors were beaten, tortured and imprisoned. After one year, he was liberated for a very brief period. Shortly afterwards he disappeared forever. Olga searched for him in vain. She began, in solitude, the grand march to the main square of Ledesma. But shortly afterwards, she was no longer alone. Hundreds of white handkerchiefs and banners were raised in the plaza: “For our loved ones to appear alive and punishment for the guilty.” That was the beginning of the organization Mothers of Jujuy. Olga continued even through her long illness, a cancer that advanced through her body. In March 2005, she passed away. Her ashes were scattered in front of the Calilegua hills, the place where, as they later discovered, the remains of her husband had been left. The great march goes on. Justice has not yet been reached.

Missing Persons of the Department of Ledesma