Argentina’s Disappeared Children: Carla Artés

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

3/cont. 

They held me up naked by the feet and hit me in front of her. They left me without food for days to cry in front of her. One of them asked her why she even needed a daughter since they were going to kill her. I don't want to know more than that. I’ve had the choice, but it's too painful."

Satcha deposited blood samples at the newly founded National Bank of Genetic Data that had been set up so children could be identified by their real families.

By September, five months after Graciela's arrest, the Bolivian police had tracked down Carla's father, Enrique, in the town of Buenos Aires. There she lost their trail. By the end of 1976, when the camp closed, they had disappeared without trace.

Satcha never gave up hope of finding her grandaughter alive. She travelled to Bolivia to talk to witnesses in La Paz. One, a nun who had known Enrique, gave her a photograph she had taken of baby Carla on the day she left the orphanage. After democracy was restored in Argentina in 1983 Satcha continued her search there, too, in Buenos Aires, with the help of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

She deposited blood samples at the newly founded National Bank of Genetic Data that had been set up so children could be identified by their real families. She also joined the Grandmothers' weekly vigils wearing a photo of Graciela and her only photo of Carla around her neck.

DAYS OF DISCOVERY

"One day when I was eight I was watching TV with my little brother Alejandro," remembers Carla. "A woman wearing a white headscarf appeared on the screen with two photos hanging around her neck. One was of me when I was about one year old. I recognized myself straight away from another baby photo. That night I asked my so-called father why the woman had a photo of me. He told me it was an old witch looking for me so she could take my blood away and he beat me with his hand, with his belt, with anything he could find. It was a terrible beating. So I tried to put it out of my head."

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