Press and Media
Returning the Stolen
Video journalist David O’Shea has been to meet a group of determined grandmothers leading the fight to reunite those children with what’s left of their families, and he hears the stories of some of the 101 stolen babies reunited so far.
Click here to read and see their story
June 30, 2008
founder of Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo
in the The Times Obituary
click to see
When we celebrated our 20th anniversary in 1997, 59 children had recovered their identities and their families.
When the grandmothers realized that their grandchildren had grown up, which implied the possibility of their help in the search for their identities, they changed their search methods. They no longer solely searched for these children, they also began campaigns to draw the young adults to Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo.
Today, 105 grandchildren have been found, many of whom approached Abuelas directly in search of their origins.
Beginning in 1997, Abuelas devoted large amounts of energy to different informational campaigns, implemented to draw young people who have doubts about their identity to the organization and to have them participate in the search for their identity.
Abuelas organized many events and activities to attract young people: conferences and seminars on the topic of identity; literary and photographic contests; graphic and photographic exhibitions; among others. These campaigns also created a space for the reconstruction of historical truth.
A large number of celebrities responded to Abuelas' campaigns and approached the organization to collaborate with them in their effort to spread information on the Right to an Identity and on the issue of the systematic abduction of children during the last military dictatorship.
The first celebrities to respond were actors, directors, and playwrights. From their involvement, the Theater for Identity was created. Music composers and singers approached the organization, founding the Music for Identity, and rock musicians created Rock for Identity. Artists also participated and formed Collective Paint, while designers created Graphics for the Abuelas. In addition, literary, photographic, choreographic, short-film, and architecture contests, among other activities, were organized.
Year after year, Abuelas launch different campaigns not only to help locate grandchildren, but also to reconstruct the country's collective memory. These campaigns attempt to incorporate society as a whole into the subject of the illegal appropriation of children as well as attract young adults who doubt their origins.
A Bit of History
In October of 1997, we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the organization Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo. At that point, 59 denounced cases of falsification of identity had been solved. Today, 87 grandchildren have been found. The reason for the increased reports is because, since 1997, Abuelas began campaigns to draw in the young men and women. The missing grandchildren had grown up, and since they were now young men and women, they could be more involved in the search for their identity.
The question "do you know who you are?" was a call to social and individual reflection. Since then, young adults have approach the organization themselves asking about doubts regarding their identity, searching for themselves. The participation of the young men and women accelerates Abuelas' endless search.
The participation of the missing grandchildren themselves in the search initiated a new phase in the organization's methods. Now Abuelas was also concerned about generating space for reflection and spreading information so that the grandchildren would approach the organization. Since the creation of Identity Week in 1997, many young men and women have collaborated with Abuelas. To all of them, Abuelas is grateful.
Already in 1996, El Laberinto (The Labyrinth) had already been staged, a montage prepared by grandsons and granddaughters, at the Centro Cultural General San Martín (General San Martín Cultural Center), which was also displayed at the 2da Bienal de Arte Joven de Buenos Aires (2nd Biennial Exhibition of Young People Art of Buenos Aires) at the Centro Cultural Adán Buenosayres (Adan Buenosayres Cultural Center) of Parque Chacabuco
In 1996, The Labyrinth, a montage-installation prepared by grandsons and granddaughters, was preformed at the General San Martín Cultural Center and was also displayed at the 2nd Biennial Exhibition of Young People's Art of Buenos Aires at the Adan Buenosayres Cultural Center. The Labyrinth was a "passage" through recent Argentine history and was created by the youngsters themselves.
With the same idea of creating of a new space for expression and analysis of identity, the literary contest Identity: from Clues to Words" was held in 1997. The dire need for social expression was evident through the number of works received, more than 900 from all around the country.
Selected texts were exhibited at the School of Psychology's art gallery along with a graphic design exhibition by students of the School of Architecture, Design, and Urbanism of the University of Buenos Aires. In 1998, EUDEBA released the book Identity: from Clues to Words which included the prize-winning works and prefaces by Estela B. de Carlotto, José Luis Mangieri, Juan Sasturain y Guillermo Korn. Estela de Carlotto and José Luis Mangieri presented the volume at the Recoleta Cultural Center and Valentina Bassi, Belén Blanco, and the authors read the prize-winning entries.
The search for the children abducted by the military dictatorship produced many changes and advances in the world arena. Abuelas' struggle was the principle motivation for the development of identification through genetic testing, since Abuelas insisted the need for scientific studies to determine "grand-paternity". Abuelas also promoted the creation of the National Genetic Data Bank, which was formed after a unanimous vote by all parliamentary blocs, and the integration of the Right to an Identity in the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, approved by the United Nations and subsequently incorporated into Argentina's National Constitution. Publications released during the first 20 years of Abuelas' existence are a testimony to the social repercussions the organization's work has caused.
One of the acts held in commemoration of Abuelas' twenty year struggle was an International Conference called Youth and Identity, which was held from September 25 to 27, 1997 at the General San Martín Cultural Center in the city of Buenos Aires. The meeting, attended by national and international speakers from disciplines such as Law, Genetics, Forensic Anthropology, Social Investigation and Psychology, was a reflection of Abuelas' many years of work.
The Graphic Memory of Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo was first displayed at this conference. This exhibition, organized and coordinated by Marcelo Castillo and Damián Sondereguer, summarizes the history, the struggle, and the achievements of Abuelas. Its digitalization in 1999 enabled periodic updates to the exhibition, which was displayed throughout the country. An English version, sponsored by Global Ministries, was produced by Randi Ewing in 1999 and later corrected by Cecilia Stephenson.
In November 1997, several sportsmen and sportswomen (among them Argentine soccer teams, men's and women's volleyball teams, as well as windsurf, judo, skating and boxing champions) published an announcement calling for the restitution of appropriated grandchildren and giving support to Abuelas' struggle. In 1998, players from multiple soccer clubs, including Boca Juniors, Gimnasia y Esgrima de La Plata, and Estudiantes de La Plata, received Abuelas and offered their support in the search for missing grandchildren.
The collaboration of music artists has been essential. Their presence at "Identity Week", in November of 1997, was manifested in two concerts at Plaza de Mayo. The first concert was the "Popular Music Encounter"which included acts by street musicians bands (Mozzi and the Murgón and Traficantes de Matracas) and several popular music artists (Malozetti-Goldman duet, Víctor Heredia, Liliana Herrero, Piero, Ignacio Copani, Miguel Cantilo, Lito Vitale, Juan Carlos Baglietto, Opus Cuatro, Jairo, Néstor Gabetta, Raúl Carnota, Beto Solas, Los Tipitos, Jorge Marziali, and Teresa Parodi), as well as support from Joan Manuel Serrat, Sandra Mihanovich, Alejandro Lerner and Julia Zenko. The second concert, the "Rock Festival for Identity", featured street musician bands as well as the bands Los Visitantes, Los Caballeros de la Quema, Bersuit Vergarabat, and Las Pelotas.
Rock musicians' support in the search for missing grandchildren has been a great pleasure for Abuelas because the rockers speak the same language as their grandchildren: on November 22, 52,000 young people came to Plaza de Mayo to listen to the music. Later, rock musicians again offered their participation in the movie "Spoils of War", where Los Pericos were accompanied by Gustavo Cerati, Pedro Aznar, Ciro Pertusi and Gustavo Cordera in the sitting of the final song "Without Chains".
This movie, directed by David Blaustein, premiered in April of 2000. The film received the First Prize in the category "Historical Times" at the International Cinematography Week in October 1999, and Blaustein was invited to the Berlin Festival in the "Panorama" section, where the movie was awarded the "Ecumenical Grand Prize".
Visual artists also responded to Abuelas' call. On November 23, 1977, they created, together with the grandmothers, the grandchildren and the public, a "Collective Painting" of a canvas with a circular wood which was displayed at the Recoleta Cultural Center. From November 19 to December 8, 1998, Juan Carlos Romero, Carlos Gorriarena, Nora Aslan, Adolfo Nigro, León Ferrari, Diana Dowek, Alicia Olga Latman, Estela Gualdero, Carlos Alonso, Laura Quesada, Mireya Baglietto, Luis Felipe Noé, Maria Rita Fernández Madero, and María Eugenia Carreira also showed their works at the Recoleta Cultural Center in an exhibition called "Identity", which was displayed again in March 2001.
In 1999, driven by the positive experience in 1997, Professors Ricardo Méndez and Raúl Bellucia, along with about one thousand students from the Graphic Design department of the School of Architecture, Design and Urbanism of the University of Buenos Aires, showed their support through a graphic expression of the search for the identity of the appropriated young men and women in the book, "Identity: 23 Years of Fighting. Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo". Furthermore, action by the Student's Association led to the founding of the "Grandmother's Nook" at the Third Pavilion of the University City. The "Grandmother's Nook" is a permanent exhibition area for the Graphic Memory and also displays related works produced by the school's students.
The drawer Rep illustrated the brochure "Right to an Identity" (Buenos Aires, 1999), as part of a campaign to spread knowledge about sections seven, eight, and eleven of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child of the United Nations. Nine, Ariel Katena, and Ana Laura Andino drew posters to promote this right.
The play "Do You Know Who You Are?", written by Roberto "Tito" Cossa and directed by Leonor Manso in Abuelas' honor, was performed at the Cervantes National Theater in 1997. The Theater for Identity was consolidated in the year 2000 with the opening of the semi-montage play "As For Doubt" (with the dramaturgy of Patricia Zangaron and the direction of Daniel Fanego), which was first shown in June at the Ricardo Rojas Cultural Center and later performed at the Recoleta Cultural Center
see Theater for the Identity
The play's huge success, which exceeded all expectations, encouraged the actors to broaden their work and produce the series "Theater for Identity 2001". Between January and March of 2001, 41 plays were written for the series, with simultaneous performances at 14 local theaters in Buenos Aires from April 9 to July 9. More than 500 people participated, including actors, directors, playwrights, musicians, street musicians, set designers, costume designers, technicians, and producers. The series' impact, with more than 40,000 spectators, was two-folded: on the one hand, producing an arena for social reflection, and, on the other, collaborating in the search for justice.
Throughout these three months, 63 young men and women approached Abuelas in search of their identity.