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October 31, 2014
Friday, February 7, 2014

Founding member’s grandchild recovered

By Luciana Bertoia
Herald Staff
The woman is the 110th baby snatched by the last military dictatorship to be identified

The Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo yesterday celebrated the recovery of the 110th grandchild abducted during the last military dictatorship.

After 37 years, the group found the granddaughter of one of the organization’s founders.

“This is for you, Vilma,” Rodolfo Gutiérrez, the 37-year-old woman’s uncle, said yesterday as tears rolled down his cheeks and he remembered Vilma Delinda Sesarego de Gutiérrez.

His mother, one of the 12 women who founded Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, passed away some time ago, and was thus unable to embrace her granddaughter, the woman who turned up last year at the association’s headquarters with doubts about her real identity.

Although the name her appropriators gave her was not revealed, yesterday at noon, Grandmothers head Estela Barnes de Carlotto entered the press conference with a smile on her face to give details about the woman’s parents and her grandparents’ struggle to find her.

“This has been a 37-year-long pregnancy,” said Gutiérrez. “And now we know the truth.”

Her parents

The woman whose real identity was restored yesterday was born in December, 1976 or January, 1977 as fierce repression was unleashed by the dictatorship. Her parents were Oscar Rómulo Gutiérrez and Liliana Isabel Acuña, who were abducted on August 26, 1976 by a group of armed civilians.

Both of them were members of Montoneros, the armed left-wing Peronist organization. Liliana was 22 years old when she was kidnapped and her husband was 25. She had studied to be a vet, changed to Agronomy, and was also a private teacher. Oscar was a sociologist who worked at a metallurgical company. Both of them woke up abruptly on August 26, 1976 as a dictatorship task force broke into their house in San Justo, Buenos Aires province.

The couple was taken to a police station number four in San Isidro, in northern Greater Buenos Aires. According to information gathered by Vilma Gutiérrez and her husband, the couple were kept in a cell with 12 other prisoners.

Santiago Omar Riveros was convicted last year for the disappearance of Liliana and Oscar.

A police officer told Liliana’s grandmother that her daughter-in-law gave birth to a baby girl in December, 1976 or a month later in San Martín. The family did not decide on a name to give her, and that is why she might keep the name her appropriators gave her.

Vilma and her husband Oscar Gutiérrez searched for their grandaughter. Vilma was one of the founders of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo and some of her companions remember the meetings she hosted in her home in the city of San Martín, where the grandmothers met to discuss their next steps secretly to avoid repression.

The test of time won the battle and neither Vilma nor her husband could celebrate their granddaughter’s recovery.

Doubts and reports

“She came here. She knew what she was looking for,” Grandmothers de Plaza de Mayo Vice-President Rosa Roisinblit said yesterday, recalling that fateful day on October 31, 2013, when the recovered granddaughter showed up at their headquarters because she suspected she could be the daughter of disappeared parents.

Before one of the human rights group’s psychologists, she explained that her “foster mother” had explained to her that members of the Buenos Aires province police had given her to the couple because they had another “adopted” baby. The woman’s appropriator was also a member of that security force, and used to tell her that somebody had abandoned her on the banks of Route 2 in Florencio Varela, Greater Buenos Aires.

Barnes de Carlotto explained that Grandmothers had already received a report in 2011 about this case, and that a separate one was filed before the National Commission for the Right to Identity (Conadi).

The results that indicated that she was the daughter of Liliana and Oscar were revealed on Wednesday.

“Once again, truth defeats lies. But we feel sad, because Grandmothers Vilma and Rosa are not here,” Barnes de Carlotto said to a packed room. Behind her was a group of recovered grandchildren, Mothers of Plaza de Mayo members and other relatives. Next to her, Human Rights Secretary Martín Fresneda also celebrated, as well as former judge Baltasar Garzón.

“We are getting back a little part of our identity as Argentines,” said Fresneda, who is also a son of disappeared parents and is still looking for his missing sibling.

Barnes de Carlotto’s son, Remo Carlotto, was also there.

“This has to be taken as healthy envy, but we hope to meet Guido,” the former Kirchnerite lawmaker said, making reference to the child his sister Laura gave birth to while she was in captivity, who became the main reason behind Estela Barnes de Carlotto’s struggle.

Time can heal wounds

It was not revealed if the woman who recovered her real identity was in attendance at the press conference nor when she was going to meet her uncle and cousins, but all who were present sent her a message. They all said they had all the time in the world to wait for her to adapt to her new life story.

“I’m great at preparing asados,” ruling Victory Front (FpV) Congressman Horacio Pietragalla, another restituted grandchild, said yesterday.

“Let’s wait for the day we can prepare one to welcome her,” he concluded.

@LucianaBertoia

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