UK & World News

  • 6 August 2014, 12:44

Argentine Activist Finds Her Stolen Grandson

A woman who has been fighting to find babies stolen during Argentina's 1976-1983 military dictatorship has found her grandson, 36 years after he was snatched.

Estela Carlotto, the 83-year-old leader of the Grandmothers Of The Plaza de Mayo group, was told that her dead daughter's missing son was found after DNA tests confirmed the man's identity.

With a broad smile Ms Carlotto told family and colleagues: "I thank all of you, God and life, because I didn't want to die without hugging him."

The man was identified as Ignacio Hurban, 36, who lives in Olavarria, a city 217 miles (350 km) southwest of Buenos Aires.

He had voluntarily presented himself to a national commission that identifies missing people about a month ago, a judge and relatives said.

During her search, Ms Carlotto learned the identity of her grandson's father, Oscar Montoya, whose family was also thrilled at the news. The DNA was compared to his remains.

Ms Carlotto, who has three surviving children, 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, said she could not wait to meet him.

He was taken from his mother, Laura, five hours after she gave birth while detained during the dictatorship's "dirty war" against leftists.

"I want to touch him, look at him," Ms Carlotto said, adding that she learned that her grandson was "an artist, a musician like many of his cousins".

Her other daughter, Claudia, spoke to her nephew. "He was very happy and emotional, and we will all see him soon," she said.

Ms Carlotto said Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner had phoned her. "We cried together," she added.

The president later tweeted: "Argentina is a bit more fair a nation today than it was yesterday."

Laura Carlotto, a leftist militant, was three months pregnant when she was taken to a prison camp by the right-wing authoritarian regime in 1977.

She gave birth on June 26, 1978, while in captivity. She had named the boy Guido but was killed two months after he was born.

Since then, Estela Carlotto searched desperately for her grandson, convinced that the boy had to be alive.

The baby was taken away by a military official who handed him to a "family that raised him well, maybe innocently," Ms Carlotto said.

He was among 500 children taken by the regime and is the 114th to be found.

Many stolen children were raised by military and police officials. Some were even taken in by their parents' killers.

An estimated 30,000 people were killed or abducted and presumed killed during the dictatorship.

In 2012, former dictators Jorge Videla, who has since died, and Reynaldo Bignone were sentenced to 50 years and 15 years in prison, respectively, over the regime's theft of babies.

Ms Carlotto's life was immortalised in the 2011 film Verdades Verdaderas (Real Truths).