Argentina Plaza de Mayo activist finds 'stolen grandson'

Estela de Carlotto promised to carry on searching for other "stolen children"

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An Argentine activist who searches for people who were snatched as babies by the 1970s military junta has found her own grandson.

Estela de Carlotto said finding her grandson, a victim of the practice, was "reparation" for her and for Argentina.

She said he had come forward for DNA testing because he had doubts about his own identity.

The junta snatched hundreds of babies from their opponents and gave them to sympathisers to bring up.

Ms Carlotto's organisation, The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, was formed to reunite biological parents with hundreds of children born in prisons and torture centres.

'Silent embrace'

Ms Carlotto and her grandson have not yet met face to face, but Ms Carlotto says she is already imagining what it will be like to embrace him.

Ms Carlotto spoke at a news conference surrounded by some of the families who have already been reunited Ms Carlotto spoke at a news conference surrounded by some of the families who have already been reunited

"I don't think there'll be room for words, I think there will be gestures, and hugs, an embrace he will return.

"I did not want to die without hugging him, without getting to know him," the 83-year-old said, talking about the man she refers to as Guido.

He was born to Ms Carlotto's daughter Laura in 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 during the 1976-1983 military rule.

Guido was raised under the name of Ignacio Hurban and lives in Olavarria, a city 350 kilometres (220 miles) south-west of Buenos Aires.

It is not clear whether the family which raised him knew that he had been stolen from his mother.

The Grandmothers investigated who Guido's father was and contacted his family and asked him to give DNA blood samples to a blood bank in case the child was ever found.

Estela de Carlotto (left) Estela de Carlotto (left) fought for decades to reunite stolen babies with their biological parents
Empty chair filled

At a jubilant news conference Ms Carlotto said: "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."

Local media reported he was working as music teacher and musician in Olavarria.

He was located after he went to a national commission that identifies missing people about a month ago after having doubts about his past.

A DNA test had come out 99.9% positive for him being her grandchild, Ms Carlotto said.

"We spoke to him by phone he was very emotional, but he said he was very happy and very well," she said.

Argentina's dictatorship
Jorge Videla at the investiture ceremony of Pope John Paul I on September 03, 1978 in front of St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City Gen Videla (right) seized power in 1976

1976: General Jorge Videla seizes power - thousands of political opponents rounded up and killed

1982: Videla's successor, General Leopoldo Galtieri, orders invasion of British-held Falkland Islands

1983: Civilian rule returns to Argentina, investigations into rights abuses begin

2010: Videla sentenced to life imprisonment for murders during his term in office

2012: Videla sentenced to 50 years for overseeing systematic theft of the babies of political prisoners


Ms Carlotto said she and her family would leave her grandson in peace until he was ready to meet them.

"We need to keep searching for other children so that other grandmothers can feel what I feel today," she said.

The group said her grandson was the 114th "stolen child" they had found so far.

Most of the babies were handed to families who supported military rule, often simply to prevent them being raised by left-wing families.

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