A friend of mine studying in Buenos Aires this semester writes that she's going to visit the city's famous central square, the Plaza de Mayo. May is the month of Argentina's independence from Spain - May 1810, when Spain fell to Napolean's European land-grab. It's a giant park surrounded by the national bank, city hall, and the president's office. In Argentina, they passed on a White House and went with pink - la Casa Rosada (and from the balcony..."Don't cry for me Argentina!") - because "the original paint used contained cow blood to prevent damage from humidity" . It seems there's no independence for cows in Argentina. The Plaza de Mayo is also the site of what may be the single longest running protest event in social movement history. Since 1977 - thirty years ago - the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo have walked in the Plaza with signs, white headscarves, and photographs of their children who were abducted by Argentina's seven-year military regime (1976-1983) - we can thank President Jorge Rafael Videla for that. Why were these people abducted? Just the usual: they were leftist intellectuals and artists, union organizers and students, perceived as a threat to the right-wing regime ("Communists!"). If you can't earn the support of your contituents any other way, kill them. In Paraguay, around the same time, 35,000 people were abducted, tortured, and/or killed by that government (that's General Alfredo Stroessner). In Argentina, estimates range from 9,000 to 30,000 killed. Chile's General Pinochet is on trial for similar crimes committed during his seventeen-year rule. So imagine these mothers, obviously died-in-the-wool Communists, marching on the president's office demanding to know what happened to their children. At the beginning, some of them were also "disappeared." Just last year the body of one of the organization's founding mothers was found and reburied (with full honors this time) in the Plaza de Mayo. What did the U.S. do when all of this was going on? That our government knew about the "secret" disappearances is no secret. Our very own elected representatives, under the auspicies of fighting terrorism ("Communists!"), were helping to coordinate intelligence gathering between South American governments - their very own regional Homeland Security, if you will. It made communications technologies available to these military (remember, non-democratic) governments from it's - I mean, our - military bases in Panama. The plaza of independence, la Plaza de Mayo, where mothers and cows come together in the pursuit of justice, and to fend off humidity.