Crossfire after leak of Guido’s name
Head of genetic database blasts way news of Guido Montoya Carlotto was unveiled
Amid the happiness for the appearance of Estela Barnes de Carlotto’s grandson after a 36-year search, there has also been controversy — and some pointed questions — about the role played by media in the restitution.
Days after the head of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo accused Federal Judge María Romilda Servini de Cubría of leaking her grandson’s given name to the press, the head of the National Genetic Database (BNDG) — who is not on good terms with the human rights organization — backed the magistrate in an e-mail addressed to human rights activists.
When a grandchild who was snatched from his or her mother is located, the usual operation is for Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo to preserve his or her given identity in order to prevent media harassment. In this case, things went the other way around.
Barnes de Carlotto is probably the most iconic human rights leader in the country and has been a member of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo since 1978. When news leaked that her grandson had been located, the organization was forced to move quickly, announcing a press conference less than three hours after the 83-year-old first heard the news her daughter Laura’s son had been located.
It did not take long for the controversy to begin. On Thursday, Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo Alan Iud filed a request before Servini de Cubría to postpone her summons of Barnes de Carlotto’s grandson, saying that the way the information was leaked could end up interfering with his reunion with the family.
On Tuesday at 4pm, Servini de Cubría, in conversation with Del Plata radio station, revealed the 36-year-old man’s given name. Media learned his name was Ignacio Hurban and that he was from the city of Olavarría in Buenos Aires province. His picture quickly went viral even before the head of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo announced his recovery.
The Herald talked to Servini de Cubría last week and the judge said that she did not see it as a problem that the name had been revealed.
“It was leaked that he was a musician from the city of Olavarría. In a small town, everyone knows their neighbours and sometimes media have more information than we do,” the magistrate, who has taken part in 13 other restitutions, said.
“I didn’t leak any information. In fact, Estela said that she was in my office when the president phoned her. The information was out there,” Servini de Cubría added.
With those words, the magistrate was making a veiled reference to Claudia Carlotto, Barnes de Carlotto’s daughter and the head of the National Commission for the Right to Identity (Conadi) who phoned her nephew to tell him that he was the son of her late sister Laura.
The head of the BNDG — the body formed in the 1980s by Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo to keep samples of relatives of the disappeared in order to identify children snatched by the military — sent an email to a group of activists, expressing her annoyance at not being mentioned as one of those who delivered the good piece of news to Barnes de Carlotto.
She also said that she fought loudly with Claudia Carlotto, who criticized her for not informing the Conadi before the judge that Laura Carlotto and Wilmar Oscar Montoya’s son had been recovered.
Belén García Cardozo and other members of the BNDG have long had a tense relationship with the Grandmothers, in part due to the genetic database’s resistance to be transferred to national jurisdiction.
The BNDG is currently in the City’s Durand Hospital.
Although Servini de Cubría agreed to postpone the hearing with Ignacio — or Guido as his grandmother calls him because it was the name chosen by his mother Laura — the controversy between the human rights organization and the judge appears to be increasing. Over the weekend, the judge told newspaper Perfil she regretted having phoned Barnes de Carlotto.
The case is in Servini de Cubría’s hands as it is believed that Laura de Carlotto was taken to the Central Military Hospital in Buenos Aires City, although she was held in the clandestine detention centre known as La Cacha in the city of La Plata. Among members of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo there are doubts about that. It also opens the possibility of the case being investigated in the city of La Plata.
Some also think the case should be analyzed in Olavarría, the place where Ignacio was raised but federal prosecutors from that jurisdiction dismissed that possibility in conversations with the Herald.
Over the past week, the media played an active role that is unusual for these types of cases. Some moved to Olavarría to reconstruct Ignacio’s life there — not paying attention to the man who allegedly gave the baby to Juana and Clemente Hurban, allegedly farm owner Carlos Francisco “Pancho” Aguilar. For her part, Barnes de Carlotto appeared in two pro-government television programmes over the weekend — TVR and 678.
The news moved so fast that everyone seemed to know Ignacio’s face after a frenzied week of coverage. The 36-year-old man metaphorically said that he had been living in a car since he heard the news. Seemingly tired of the interview requests, Ignacio led a press conference at the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo headquarters. He then headed back to Olavarría.
A month ago, Ignacio appeared at the venue of the union he and his girlfriend Celeste are members, SUTEBA, asking for advice on what to do about the doubts about his identity. They told him to approach Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo but thus far they have not been able to celebrate the restitution of his identity with him. Last night, they were scheduled to meet Ignacio’s fiancée to discuss how their lives have been turned upside-down.
There was likely no shortage of material.
— Herald staff