History of Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo
Children who disappeared or who were born in captivity
The drama of children who disappeared in our country, the Argentine Republic, is one of the consequences of the Doctrine of National Security, enforced by the military dictatorship, which ruled the country between 1976 and 1983.
These children are the children of our children, who have also disappeared. Many babies were kidnapped with their parents, some after their parents were killed and others born in concentration to which their parents were taken after having been sequestered at different states of their pregnancy.
We, the babies' grandmothers, tried desperately to locate the babies and during these searches, we decided to join together in 1977. Hence, the non-governmental organization called Abuelas (Grandmothers) de Plaza de Mayo was established, dedicated specifically to claim for the return of our grandchildren. We also dedicated our energy to investigate our children and grandchildren's disappearance, in hopes of finding them.
As mothers, we have a double search since we are demanding the restitution of our grandchildren while simultaneously searching for these children's parents, our sons and daughters.
From the moment that our children (with our grandchildren in their wombs) disappeared, our task was to visit every court, office, orphanage, day care center, etc. in hopes of finding them. We appeared before courts of justice, before the successive military governments, the National Supreme Court and the ecclesiastical hierarchies, never obtaining a positive result. We finally directed our claim to international organizations: the United Nations, the Organization of American States, to little avail.
In 1977 we began to claim for the restitution of 13 children and currently, in August 2004, there are 400 children that are recorded as being searched for. We know, however, that there may be a total number of around 500 children that have been kidnapped. In many cases, their relatives did not declare such kidnappings, either due to ignorance of the means available for doing so, or because they did not know that their mothers were pregnant at the time they disappeared.
The children who disappeared were deprived of their identity; their religion; their right to live with their family; in brief, all of the rights that are nationally and internationally recognized as their true rights.
Our demand is concrete: that the children who were kidnapped as a method of political repression be restored to their legitimate families.
Procedures for the Search of our Grandchildren
Since 1976, we have undergone:
Investigations at local and federal courts, including investigations of adoptions granted, and also with regards to NN children (i.e. names unknown) who may have been recorded at those courts since that time.
Investigations of all cases of births registered in governmental offices after the lapsing of the normal legal term for such registration.
In 1997, we began to convoke young people (of an approximate age range of our grandchildren) that may have doubts regarding their true identity. We have had very satisfactory results in our convocations.
We have continually published announcements in local newspapers read by individuals who are aware of information relating to the kidnappings, but who keep silence either due to complicity or fear. In addition, we have distributed posters and leaflets with photographs and details on the disappearance of children.
When hearings or public announcements take place, for instance, we file such information in folders containing the individual accusations of each case; details of the disappearance; photographs of the child and/or his/her parents; documents of identity; or habeas corpus that have been filed, among other information. Each grandmother or relative who is making the denouncement signs all these documents that are filed. A certificate of pregnancy of the young mother is included, in case the person involved was pregnant when detained; or a birth certificate of the child, in the event that he/she was sequestered following birth.
In our speeches, we make it clear that our grandchildren have not been abandoned; they have the right to recover their own roots and their own history; they have relatives who are constantly engaged in the search for them.
In the 27 years, we have been able to located 77 of the disappeared children, including 4 found by governmental commissions and 2 located by CLAMOR, the committee for the defense of human rights in the south cone.
Some of the children are already living with their legitimate families, in which they have become perfectly integrated. Others are still living with the families that have raised them, but are in close contact with their true grandmothers. By being a part of two families, the children have recovered their identity.
There are a great number of disappeared children whose identity was totally annulled. In those cases, we must use the most modern scientific methods in order to prove that they are members if a particular family. For this purpose, we need the full support of the scientific community in the areas of genetics as well as hematology and morphology, among others.
We were able to include, in the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, the articles 7, 8 and 11, which were thus referred to as the "Argentine clauses." These articles refer to the right to identity. Later on, this International Convention was incorporated into the Argentine Constitution, via law No. 23849.
In 1992, as a result of a petition organized by our organization, the National Executive Power of our government created CONADI, the National Committee for the Right to Identity. The main objective of this entity is to assist young adults who have doubts about their real identity, to investigate all existing documents, and also to undergo a blood analysis. Blood analyses are carried out by the National Bank of Genetic Data, an entity that is enabled to perform analyzes without the intervention of courts.