Argentina: The Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Grandmothers of the May Plaza) is a well known Argentine human rights organization that formed with the goal of finding children who were stolen and illegally adopted during the Argentine Dirty War from 1976 to 1983. More than 400 criminal complaints have been filed for children who were disappeared during the military dictatorship. To date, the Abuelas have reunited over one hundred grandchildren whose mothers were disappeared while they were pregnant or taken with their children during the Dirty War.
In most previous cases of recovered children, the biological mothers were killed by the dictatorship after their children were given away. Most reunions are between uncles and nephews or grandmothers with grandchildren. Every grandchild found is an amazing occasion however tomorrow, a missing grandchild will be reunited with his biological mother thanks to the Abuelas and their relentless search.
The Abuelas of the Plaza de Mayo announced that they have located grandson # 119, his name is Mario Bravo. His mother is alive and living in Tucuman. They will be reunited tomorrow in Buenos Aires after 38 years. Bravo was born while his mother was held in captivity by the military. He was adopted away and his mother was released after two years but says she was threatened to maintain silence after her kidnapping. More details will be released after they are reunited tomorrow.
— Agencia El Vigía (@AgenciaElVigia) December 1, 2015
“Photo of the day: the #Nieto119 Mario Bravo and his mother”
Imposible no pensar en esa madre, en la inmensa alegría de haber encontrado a su hijo: tanto dolor, tanta alegría, tanta lucha… #Nieto119
— Javier Palummo (@jpalummo) November 30, 2015
“Impossible to not think of that mother, in the immense happiness to have found her son: so much pain, so much joy, so much struggle… #Nieto119”
Los ojos llenos de lágrimas. La madre del #Nieto119 ya está en Bs As. Tuvo a su hijo en cautiverio y mañana lo volverá a ver.
— Carina López Monja (@Carinalopezm) November 30, 2015
“The eyes full of tears. The mother of the #Nieto119 is already in Buenos Aires. She had her son in captivity and tomorrow will see him again.”
Around 300 families have placed their DNA in the National Genetic Data Bank in the hopes they can be matched and reunited with their missing relatives. Along with the now 119 recovered grandchildren – more than 60 families have been reunited thanks to the Abuelas’ work to recover the missing.
The recovery of grandson # 119 is especially cathartic as he will be reunited with a living parent who has not seen him since she gave birth. As a baby he was immediately covered and taken away – his mother never even knew if she gave birth to a boy or a girl.
The Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo were recently awarded the Oscar Arnulfo Romero Ibero-American Prize for Human Rights Education. The award is named in homage to human rights activist and Salvadoran priest murdered in 1980. The institution was honored for their work in the defense and promotion of human rights through work with students, teachers and the community, in addition to their outreach programs to find missing grandchildren and for their contribution to building the right to identity.
The work of the Abuelas began on October 23, 1977, when eight mothers whose daughters had been kidnapped while they were pregnant or were taken along with their babies met for the first time in Buenos Aires. Thus was born what later became known as the Abuelas of the Plaza de Mayo.
On December 30, 1996 in Buenos Aires, a trial began to prosecute the systematic abduction of children based on a complaint filed by the Abuelas. Oral testimonies started 15 years later, on 28 February 2011. The sentencing was set for July 5, 2012, after eighteen months of public meetings.
The trial investigated 34 cases of missing children, of them 20 testified along with 200 witnesses. Those on trial included two dictators, six soldiers, a member of the Coast Guard, an intelligence officer and a civilian, Ines Susana Colombo. With the exception of Colombo, all are in prison, under house arrest and one of the dictators died in prison.
Eight people were found guilty for the organization of and/or concealment of a criminal apparatus used for the appropriation of children. Three people (Juan Azic, Victor Gallo and his former wife, Ines Susana Colombo) were judged for having stayed with children of the disappeared.
The 2012 trial also found two former dictators guilty of systematically stealing babies from political prisoners and giving them new identities during the Dirty War. Jorge Rafael Videla, who ruled as a dictator between 1976 to 1981, was sentenced to 50 years in prison. General Reynaldo Benito Bignone, who ruled the country from June 1982 until the nation’s return to democracy in December 1983, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in the illegal adoptions of children of dissidents.
Jorge Videla died in 2013 while serving his sentence in Marcos Paz prison. General Reynaldo Benito Bignone is serving his 15 years for the 2012 trial along with a life sentence for crimes against humanity from a separate judgement handed down in 2011.
While justice is brought in some cases, hundreds of children (they are now adults) still remain to be reunited with their biological families. Some 25 people have been sentenced for the appropriation of children during the dictatorship. In cases where minors were adopted legally, without falsifying birth certificates, the Argentine justice system did not act against the adoptive parents.
Legal cases still continue in cases of recovered grandchildren. A new trial began just this month in the case of recovered grandchild # 109, in which two former federal police are charged with illegal appropriation and suppression of the identity of the son of a Chilean couple who was disappeared in Argentina during the dictatorship.
After Nieto # 119 is reunited with his mother tomorrow, it is possible more legal charges will follow regarding his case and the case of his mother’s kidnapping. Regardless of what follows, every lost child who is recovered by the Abuelas, reinvigorates the public to seek justice for crimes against humanity that were committed during the Argentine Dirty War.
Convocamos a una conferencia para brindar detalles sobre el encuentro del nieto 119 http://t.co/C4aDDXO8IM
— Abuelas Plaza Mayo (@abuelasdifusion) November 30, 2015
“We convened a conference to provide details on the meeting of grandson 119”
The Abuelas will hold a press conference tomorrow, December 1 at 4pm local time (16:00) in their headquarters in Buenos Aires to provide more details about the reunion of grandson # 119 with his mother.