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 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 2 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 4 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 5 Israel-Gaza conflict: Deadly flechette shells 'used by Israeli military in Gaza Strip’
Hacking Trial: Rebekah Brooks, Raisa and a new twist in the saga of a horse fit for a Prime Minister
Israel-Gaza conflict: Palestinian death toll now exceeds 500 – but Israel fights on
Income tax league: Revealed - the UK towns where people pay the most and least tax
Israel-Gaza conflict: Deadly flechette shells 'used by Israeli military in Gaza Strip’
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Blogger captures footage ‘showing BUK missile launcher that shot down jet’ now back in Russia
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...
Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...
£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...
£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire