She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She says: “?I raised my children to be decent and brave persons, to defend whatever they think is right?”
Elzita Santa Cruz Oliveira – Brazil
?Where is my son?? The question that Elzita Santa Cruz Oliveira (born 1913) asked was never answered. During the 1970s, when Brazil was frightened and terrified, Elzita, a housewife, faced the military forces in the search for the fifth of her ten children. She has written hundreds of letters to politicians, to national and international organizations for human rights. Elzita has gathered mothers who shared her pain. She symbolizes all Brazilian mothers whose children were victims of the military regime’s oppression.?
?Old Zita! Old Zita!? When Elzita Santa Cruz Oliveira gathers her family, she still feels like she can hear her son Fernando, who disappeared in 1974. ?He used to call me ?Old Zita?. Fernando Augusto de Santa Cruz Oliveira, a student and militant of the Popular Action ? a revolutionary organization of the left-wing catholic movement-, left home in an afternoon during the celebration of carnival in Rio, to meet a friend. He never came back. It makes Elzita, 92 years old, sad to remember the past. She goes back to the beginning of the 70?s. That is when the daughter of a sugar plantation owner, a rich girl raised to marry, had her peaceful life as a housewife in Olinda, Pernambuco, shook up by the dictatorship?s cruelty.
In 1971, her first born daughter, Rosalina, was arrested in Rio. Elzita spent three months going from barrack to barrack. ?When they allowed me to see her, she had bruises on her body and her nails were blue. She was being tortured?. Rosalina was kept in prison for one year. Marcelo, another one of her sons, had to leave the fourth year of Law School and exile himself in Europe for one year. Three years later, Elzita was back to the barracks, this time looking for Fernando. It was worthless, so she started writing letters and petitions to politicians, to military officers, to the Church, to national and international organizations. She has gathered and encouraged other mothers ? most of them frightened ? to sign petitions. Elzita has helped found the Movement for Amnesty in Pernambuco and, later on, the Labor Party of that same state. She has gone to Argentina to support the Mothers of May Square. ?I have never been scared. I would go inside a fire for a son?
The beginning of the 70?s was one of the most violent and repressive periods of the Brazilian military regime. The academic world lost several intellectuals, forced to leave the country. Studentile organizations were shut down. Students lost their right to study; a lot of them were arrested, tortured, and murdered. (Read all on 1000peacewomen 2005).
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