December 11, 2017

María Isabel ‘Chicha’ Chorobik de Mariani

Saturday, August 23, 2014

‘It is as if I had found my own granddaughter’

By Luciana Bertoia
Herald Staff

Alicia “Licha” Zubasnabar de De La Cuadra was not able to hug her granddaughter. She passed away in 2008 after decades of struggle to learn about what had happened to the baby that her daughter Elena gave birth to in 1977.

Licha was considered to be the founder of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo along with María Isabel “Chicha” Chorobik de Mariani, who is still looking for Clara Anahí, the 3-month-old baby snatched by the military in November 1976 when they attacked the house, killing her mother Diana Teruggi. Moments after hearing that her friend's granddaughter had appeared, Chicha Mariani talked to the Herald to express her happiness.

“It's not only me who is happy. I guess everyone must be having the same feeling. Licha did so many things to find her granddaughter, her children. I think it is well-deserved,” Chicha, who is 90 years old and is blind, said. Her house was flooded with human rights activists who wanted to be there to celebrate a new victory in a long-term struggle.

How did you meet Licha?

I will never forget that. I was alone looking for my granddaughter. A judicial officer in La Plata told me that there was another woman looking for her granddaughter. At first, I did not pay much attention but she told me once again and I phoned “Licha.” I went to her house around noon and we talked for hours.

And how did you get together with the rest of the founding members?

We told some others about it. It was a very difficult situation and on November 21, 1977, we went to San Martín square in downtown Buenos Aires because Cyrus Vance, US president Jimmy Carter's secretary of state, was there and we had to hand some reports to him. There were lots of police officers with dogs and I became paralyzed when a woman told me: “Did you give your report to him?” She took it from my hands and ran. It was the founder of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, Azucena Villaflor. After that, we gathered below a Jacaranda and that’s where Grandmothers with Disappeared Grandchildren was founded. We used to hold secret meetings and then we changed our name to Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo.

What are your memories of Licha?

Since the moment I went to her house, she became my closest companion. She was always there. She used to get up very early to file complaints or investigate. She was my friend. We struggled together.

And what do you remember of her search for Ana Libertad?

Many of her relatives were disappeared. She received a phone call telling her that her daughter Elena had given birth to a baby girl and named her Ana Libertad. Licha was told that Elena was at the police station number 5 and she used to go there but the repressors did not let her in. She used to pass by to see if she could get some information. I am so happy. It's as if I had found my granddaughter. I know Licha must be smiling now.

Do you think other cases can emerge after the appearance of Estela Barnes de Carlotto's grandson, Ignacio Guido, or Ana Libertad?

People know where they are. They have to give that information, that's my personal request. I need to find my granddaughter. It was always rumoured there were snatched babies in Olavarría or Azul (in the centre of BA province) because there are many military headquarters there.


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