Argentina’s Disappeared Children: Carla Artés

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

5/cont. 

My parents beat us for the slightest thing. But the traumatic thing was to be separated from Alejandro. I cried and cried for him. I've never seen him again because he still lives with our 'parents' and I do not feel like making the contact."

Carla / ‘I’ve seen psychologists too. They’ve helped me to understand that neither my parents nor I ever did anything wrong. Getting rid of that sense of guilt was difficult.’

A NEW LIFE IN SPAIN

Carla and Satcha stayed in Argentina for two years with a 24-hour police bodyguard to ensure Carla's safety. During that time she met other 'disappeared' children and her father's Uruguayan family, with whom she has remained in touch. Today Carla's past remains central to her everyday life. She works for a Spanish human rights organization, Movement Against Intolerance, as a school monitor teaching classes on violence, racism and intolerance.

"What happens is that you don't realise very much when you're ten," says Carla slowly. "But as you grow up you want to find out what happened and you find ways of doing that. Realising I didn't have a family, a structure, was tough. I've talked about it a lot, which helps. I've seen psychologists too. They've helped me to understand that neither my parents nor I ever did anything wrong. Getting rid of that sense of guilt was difficult."

Married but separated, she has just given birth to her second baby. "I don't want my daughter Graciela to grow up as an only child," she explains.

Clearly, though, certain wounds have not healed. "I have come to terms with my past. But it's still difficult to live with not knowing what happened to mama. I don’t believe she is alive, but I cannot be sure. I cannot say she is dead. There is no body. There is nothing. Bringing the people responsible to trial is the only way of finding out how mama disappeared. Otherwise I even feel robbed of the right to grieve."

Update:

In 2005 Carla became one of 200 witnesses who gave evidence in Madrid against Adolfo Scilingo, whose testimony revealed the implication of high-ranking military staff in the disappearances during the dictatorship.

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