Maria del Carmen “Coca” Maggi (1947 - 1975)

the Argentine Dean killed for refusing political interference in her university

Maria del Carmen "Coca" Maggi was an Argentine professor and university principal, kidnapped (and later executed) by militant members of the CNU - Concentración Nacional Universitaria, a far-right terrorist movement - on the morning of May 9, 1975.

Born in 1947 in Mar del Plata, in the province of Buenos Aires, "Coca" Maggi distinguished herself from a young age for a marked teaching vocation, thus becoming in few years Professor of Philosophy and Letters at Católica University in Mar del Plata. At that time, a complex process of unification of the two city universities was ongoing, which involved the Provincial - founded in 1961 and run by officials of the extreme right Peronist Argentina - and the Católica, a Private academic institution where Professor Maggi worked.

The process of unification of the two universities was promoted in particular by Monsignor Eduardo Pironio, who had taken over the leadership of the Católica University in 1973, working immediately to ensure autonomy and gratuitousness to the institute; on the other hand, the top management of the Provincial, very close to the CSU and the extreme right wing movements in Argentina, had the purpose of unifying the two universities and then to replace the teaching staff of the Católica with teachers aligned with their political ideas.

in this delicate context Maria "Coca" Maggi distinguished herself for having fought, without assuming any kind of political-ideological position, so that the Católica University -of which she had become, in the meantime, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities- remained free, autonomous and depoliticized. After cultivating a deep relationship of mutual professional esteem with Monsignor Eduardo Pironio - the main defender of the autonomy of Católica University - "Coca" Maggi began to earn the antipathy of the CNU, eager to control the two university institutions following their merger.

On the occasion of a meeting between representatives of the two universities, "Coca" Maggi recorded a speech in which the rector of the Provincial University, Pedro Arrighi, revealed that he wanted to free the Católica University from the current faculty, appointing Jorge Aguilera - a trusted man of the CNU - as the new dean of the Faculty of Law.

The young professor then decided to transmit the recording to the media, with the aim of denouncing the plan of Arrighi and the CNU: this action provoked fervent protests, which led to the dismissal of the rector of the Provincial University less than a month after the meeting.

The noble gesture of "Coca" to safeguard the political autonomy of its University, quickly turned out into a death sentence for the brave professor: at 2.30 am on 9 May 1975 a contingent of 14 armed men belonging to the CNU broke into her apartment, identified itself as a police force and - without even allowing "Coca" to bring with her medicine to treat diabetes, a condition she suffered from - took custody of the young woman.

The body of Maria "Coca" Maggi was found -almost a year after her disappearance- in the Argentine department of Mar Chiquita, on March 23, 1976, a day before the coup which allowed General Videla to take the political leadership of the country. The discovery of the young professor was greeted with anger and indignation by the Argentine people, eager to seek justice for what happened; Monsignor Pironio, instead, was transferred to Rome by Pope Paul VI, thus escaping the commission of further armed interference by the CNU.

The mother of Maria "Coca" Maggi, Elena Mussi de Maggi, was one of the founders of the Movement of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, through which she sought to obtain justice and transparency regarding the story of her daughter and the mysterious disappearances of many other Argentines.

On August 18 2023, the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Mar del Plata - today a democratic, plural and free institution, created following the merger of the Católica and the Provincial - was dedicated to the memory of Maria "Coca" Maggi. In this way, the courageous deeds of the young professor brutally murdered by the CNU will be transmitted to future generations of students, who can study in an apolitical university thanks to the courage of Maria "Coca" Maggi.

Gardens that honour Maria del Carmen “Coca” Maggi

Maria del Carmen “Coca” Maggi is honoured in the Garden of Mar del Plata.

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