Grandmothers hunt for kidnapped babies
The mothers of murdered Argentines are still tracing their grandchildre n, writes Phil Davison in Buenos Aires
Thursday 25 May 1995
Mrs Pavon is one of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a group less well known than the Mothers of the same square. The latter have demonstrated there every Thursday for 19 years, demanding news of their missing sons and daughters and legal action against their kidnappers and executioners. The Grandmothers are looking for "the living disappeared ones", the babies and children taken from women who were kidnapped and murdered under military rule from 1976 to 1983.
Recent admissions by military officers that atrocities took place have raised hopes among relatives of the missing that the people who adopted the kidnapped babies may come forward.
"Now it is up to [President Carlos] Menem, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, to trace and return the missing children," Estela Carlotto, one of the Grandmothers, said.
As they searched for news of their missing daughters, the Abuelas (Grandmothers) found out that the military had allotted the children of kidnapped women to childless military or police families. Pregnant detainees were held until they had their babies. The mothers were then executed; the babies distributed.
Until military rule ended in December 1984, the Grandmothers met in secret, referring to themselves on the phone as "the old dears" and the missing children as "the flowers."
The Grandmothers havetraced 56 children. Most wereturned to grandparents or aunts. They are still looking for 217. But they believe there may be 200 or 300 more who have not been claimed, as their families did not know of the pregnancy.
Mrs Pavon's daughter, Monica Logares, and her husband Claudio Logares, were liberals who fled to Uruguay with their baby, Paula. They reckoned without the collaboration between the Argentinian and Uruguayan generals, however, and they disappeared in Montevideo in May 1978. Paula was 23 months old.
As the Abuelas became organised, they took out newspaper ads and published snapshots of the missing children. In 1983, the Grandmothers got an anonymous tip that a girl matching Paula Logares' description was living with an ex-policeman called Ruben Lavallen. After weeks of observation, Mrs Pavon overcame her nerves and knocked at the Lavallens' door, posing as a saleswoman.
"It was like looking at her mother, Monica, my daughter, as a child. It was uncanny," Mrs Pavon recalls.
Other Grandmothers posed as school-portrait photographers, to get pictures of Paula at school. The evidence was presented to a judge later that year. After hearings in which genetic tests showed that Mrs Pavon was almost certainly the child's grandmother, Paula was handed over to her.
In 1988, a judge granted Paula the right to change her name back from Lavallen to Logares and get new identity documents, listing her as the daughter of her true parents.
"Finally, justice was recognising her existence," Mrs Pavon said. "It was also recognising the existence of my daughter, Monica, and her husband, Claudio. They had tried to wipe my daughter from history, but they couldn't."
After the return of democracy, bodies buried under headstones reading N N, short for No Nombre, meaning No Name, were exhumed. They found Roberto and Barbara Lanouscou, aged five and six, both shot in the back. In a third small grave, where they expected to find the Lanouscous' baby sister, Matilde, they found a teddy bear. The grave had been a decoy. The baby was presumably given away. She is still missing.
- 1 Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
- 2 JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Jeremy Clarkson calls on trolls to leave producer Oisin Tymon alone: 'None of this is his fault'
Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
Andreas Lubitz: Who is Germanwings co-pilot who 'locked out captain and crashed flight 9525'?
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Russia unveils plans for high speed railway and superhighway to connect Europe and America
Cate Blanchett loses temper during interview: 'That's your f**king question?'
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest
£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...
£50000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued business growt...
£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...