n Uruguay’s cities and towns, paintings of white daisies, each with a missing petal, have appeared on walls and at windows in recent weeks, in memory of the people who went missing during the country’s military dictatorship that began 50 years ago.
Thousands in the small South American country are set to take to the streets on Saturday in a “March of Silence” to remember those who were forcibly disappeared by the state, both in Uruguay and in neighboring Argentina, during a wave of military rule in the region.
The Mothers and Family Members of Disappeared and Detained Uruguayans organization says that 197 nationals were forcibly disappeared. Only six bodies of those who disappeared in Uruguay have been recovered so far.
Thousands more people were imprisoned and tortured, and there is a growing call for more accountability.
Silent demonstrations have been taking place each year on May 20 since 1996, with protesters carrying pictures of the missing and demanding justice. This year – which marks five decades since the-then president, Juan Maria Bordaberry, dissolved parliament and suspended the constitution – is expected to draw much larger crowds than usual.
A giant installation decorated with images of the disappeared has taken over the popular Montevideo place name sign that overlooks Pocitos bay, and similar installations are planned in other cities.
“People are protesting in new ways because they feel part of something and are less fearful than before,” said Ricardo Gomez from Images of Silence, an organization that arranged the Montevideo installation.
The topic of the dictatorship remains controversial in Uruguay, with some reluctant to revisit this sensitive period of the country’s fairly recent history.