September 23, 2014
The candidacy of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo for the Nobel Peace Prize has yet to be rewarded with success but there can be no doubt that their leader Estela Barnes de Carlotto would have gladly traded that supreme accolade for the joy she now feels over the identification of her long-lost grandchild. It is difficult to imagine better news to brighten this bleak winter (bleak for its news rather than exceptionally low temperatures) than the warm emotions of this moment. To those who might ask why the discovery of this 114th child of missing parents is any more special than the other 113, there is a very simple answer — because Carlotto has done so much more to help the other 113 families relocate the children whose identity had been annihilated by adoption under the 1976-83 military dictatorship than anybody did to help her (without belittling in any way the scientific and the epic struggle of the human rights groups as a whole).
Life has never been easy for Carlotto in her decades-long quest for her missing grandson as she struggled to maintain her sanity and her integrity. It does not require much imagination to understand how that mission could be difficult and dangerous during a military dictatorship (described eloquently enough elsewhere in this newspaper by a former editor and needing no repetition). But while continuing her quest in recent years with the full backing of a government giving top priority to human rights might seem the perfect scenario, it has also had its complications. The support given by the Kirchnerite presidencies to the Grandmothers has been so generous that it becomes impossible to deny the deepest gratitude which inevitably translates into political loyalty — when this loyalty is extended to an administration manifestly imperfect in other areas, questions about her integrity arise (and not always maliciously). But Carlotto has passed all these tests with flying colours. She led the two-decades-fight to find the identity of the Clarín media group main owner’s children Marcela and Felipe Herrera, since their adoption presented a number of suspicious facts. Carlotto had the integrity to accept the negative findings of the official genetic bank in all its scientific rigour and she expressed yesterday that she was confident that “all media may be happy, even those which don’t like us.” Her integrity shines even more today, when Estela shows that having strong convictions and being relentless with those who have committed atrocities is compatible with keeping open dialogue with different sectors and avoiding overacting at the same time.
But all the troubles bravely borne are happily over — a family is now reunited.