A judge in Argentina has indicted the head of human rights organization the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo. Hebe de Bonafini, 88, has been charged with misusing public funds allocated to a social housing project.
The program created by former President Cristina Fernandez, was managed by Mrs. De Bonafini's foundation, a world-famous collective of mothers looking for children who disappeared during the dictatorship.
As a close ally of the ex-president, Bonafini says the case against her is politically motivated and orchestrated by current President Mauricio Macri, who came into power in 2015.
Thank you Macri for giving me the honor of being accused, she said sarcastically on a video. Prosecutors allege that about US$13m of public funding in the Shared Dreams program was diverted inappropriately. Her former aide, Sergio Schoklender, will also be investigated, according to Buenos Aires media.
Bonafini has previously refused to appear in court to give evidence.
The movement of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo is highly lauded in Argentina for its human rights work. It emerged when a military junta ruled the country (1976 -1983) and a group of women paraded around the central square in Buenos Aires to draw attention to their missing children. A tradition they keep, every Thursday, to this day.
Bonafini has two sons who were disappeared by the military government. The mothers group has previously said they wanted to do some of the work their children, who were mostly left-wing activists, would have ended up doing if they were alive.
The US$53m Shared Dreams program was devised to build housing, schools and health centers in low-income neighborhoods. It was abruptly halted in 2011. Investigations then revealed that Schoklender was the major shareholder in Meldorek, the construction company used by the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo.
Furthermore Schoklender was discovered to have several companies, mansions, luxury cars, yachts and a life style quite distant from the humble mission he was tasked with. In some of those straw companies he contracted several relatives of Bonafini.