BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Argentina's Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who launched a human rights crusade in the late 70s against a bloody dictatorship, took control of a building at a former naval academy that was the junta's chief torture center.
Activists on Thursday painted cheery suns and flowers on the building, which will begin operating April 30 as a cultural complex and also houses classrooms for law students attending a university the Mothers founded in recent years.
"Let's paint the building in the colors of life," cried a leader of the group, Hebe de Bonafini. "We have defeated death!"
The government announced in 2004 that the Navy Mechanics' School would be removed from military control and become a museum and monument honoring the victims of the 1976-83 military regime. The last officers left the campus late last year.
Nearly 13,000 people were killed or disappeared during the dictatorship's crackdown on dissent, according to an official tally. Activists say the toll is closer to 30,000.
Bonafini noted that children of some the Mothers were among the 5,000 dissidents detained at the clandestine torture center, where they were tortured and, in some cases, made to disappear.