Estela de Carlotto is an amazing woman. As the President of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, she has been a leader for over 35 years in the quest to reunite biological parents and grandparents with hundreds of children who were born in prisons and torture centers.
These babies were then snatched away by the 1970s military junta, and given to members of the government and their supporters to raise as their own.
So far, the Grandmothers and Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo have been able to find 113 of these abducted children, and reunite them with their biological families.
This week Carlotto’s grandson became the 114th child to discover his true identity.
At a jubilant news conference the 83-year-old activist declared:
We’ve found what we were looking for. Now I have 14 grandchildren with me. The empty chair is now filled, the photograph frames will carry a photo.
My grandson, is handsome, an artist, a good boy, well brought up, and he searched me out.
She went on to say, “I did not want to die without hugging him, without getting to know him,” and declared that finding her grandson was “reparation” for her, for her family and for Argentina.
The 36-year-old was born to Carlotto’s daughter Laura on June 26, 1978, while the young history student and political activist was held by the military junta.
The baby, whom Laura had named Guido, was taken from his mother; Laura was killed in captivity two months later, one of 30,000 left-wing activists murdered and “disappeared” during the 1976-1983 military rule in Argentina.
Ever since then, Estela Carlotto has been searching for her grandson, convinced that the boy was alive.
It was just about a month ago that Ignacio Hurban, who lives in Olavarria, about 200 miles southwest of Buenos Aires, came forward for DNA testing because he had doubts about his past. He went to the National Commission for the Right to Identity, a group set up specifically for this purpose, and requested DNA testing.
Shortly afterwards, federal judge Maria Servini de Cubria, who is in charge of several cases of babies who were stolen by the right-wing military regime, confirmed that Hurban was in fact Laura Carlotto’s son.
Kivo Carlotto, son of Estela and brother of Laura, announced to the world that a DNA test found with 99.9 percent certainty that his nephew had finally been found.
“The result of the test was positive. We have found my nephew after 35 years,” he told Todo Noticias television.
Grandmothers of the Plaza De Mayo
The Grandmothers and the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo were founded in 1977, the first groups set up by relatives of the disappeared. They are made up of women whose children and grandchildren have been victims of human rights violations.
I first heard of them in the mid-80s when I worked as a volunteer with Amnesty International. As a new mother, I couldn’t imagine anything worse than having my child snatched away from me and never knowing what happened to him. But as I read about these grandmothers and mothers in their signature white headscarves gathering each Thursday in Buenos Aires’ Plaza de Mayo, I was inspired to spread their stories and tell the world about all the people who had “disappeared” during Argentina’s “dirty war.”
Since 1977, these courageous women have been working tirelessly to reunite an estimated 500 children who were taken from leftists and government opponents during the military dictatorship in Argentina.
What an inspiring story of hope, courage and persistence in the face of evil. We can all take a lesson from Estela de Carlotto.
Photo Credit: online BBC video