Argentina’s Disappeared Children: Carla Artés

Marie Claire  New York & London, 1999, 2,000 words; adapted extracts  


Protests against the abductions began in 1977 when a group of women searching for the 'disappeared' children and grandchildren held weekly vigils opposite the presidential palace in the Plaza de Mayo. Known as the Grandmothers of the Plaza Dos de Mayo, identified by their white headscarves, they became a highly effective investigative lobby.

In the living room of Carla’s and Satcha’s small city-centre apartment a handful of snapshots portray Carla’s parents, Graciela and Enrique.

The regime denied the existence of the abductions, but as a result of the grandmothers' work the 'mass abduction' of children was specifically excluded from the scope of the 1986 Argentinian amnesty on human rights crimes during the dictatorship. They have also traced 63 of the 236 documented cases of abducted children and put them in contact with their real parents. But those responsible for the abductions have still not been brought to justice.


In the living room of Carla's and Satcha's small city-centre apartment a handful of snapshots portray Carla's parents Graciela and Enrique. Graciela, a dark-eyed beauty, studied sciences and trained as a social worker in Buenos Aires. Enrique, Uruguayan by birth, studied engineering and medicine. Both were leaders of student campaigns for democratic rights. After the birth in 1975 of their long-awaited first baby, Carla, they moved to Bolivia and continued their political involvement with workers' rights.

Eight days after the military Junta seized power in Argentina on 2nd April 1976 Graciela took part in a demonstration in La Paz in support of a miners' strike. The next day she was arrested at home with baby Carla.

"I don't remember anything," says Carla. "My grandmother found out what happened from eye-witnesses. Mama was held at the Bolivian Ministry of Home Affairs. A team was sent from Argentina to torture her. I was taken to an orphanage. When Mama passed out from the torture they took me to her to revive her and get her to talk. They wanted to know where my father was. 

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